By Grant F. Smith

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Conclusion – What is VIAB?

There's no state that has an agency that is funded by the state. There’s [sic] probably 20 states that have some type of . . . Israel-America—Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Region Association which is called Conexx. In Maryland they have a four-man team with at least ten times our budget that do this also, but it's nothing that’s funded by the state. It's got a little bit of gravitas. But it doesn't have the gravitas if the state doesn’t do anything about it. Can you imagine, I said to the Secretary of Commerce, now he’s only been in the job six months . . .  I said to him, do me a favor. Drive two hours. Sit with us for two hours. And drive two hours back. And he said, yes. Now, he understood and he cared. Dov Hoch, Executive Director of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board[1]

There is a major difference between the Virginia Israel Advisory Board’s influence on the executive agencies of the state and the limited pressure that outside not-for-profit Israel chambers of commerce exert upon other state governments.

When a chamber of commerce petitions government for redress, there is a clear separation between its operation as an outside entity and the state government. Not so with VIAB. Members of the entities that created VIAB understand that. Nathan Shor,  VIAB board member and past president of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, quipped:[2]

If he (Dov) was totally independent, he wouldn’t be in the Pocahontas Building. He’d be working at Gather (co-working place) down the street trying to get his input into the board in the Pocahontas Building on a regular basis, and that wouldn’t work.

...we have an office on the floor with the senators in the Pocahontas building, so during session it’s helpful and I think we have very informal, good relations with the people there, so we meet with some frequency.[3]

When VIAB convenes, all of the relevant players are there in the same board room, gathering side by side as fellow government agencies. The Office of Attorney General attends to provide an inoculating clearance of conflict of interest questions. Outside consultants seeking gigs can make their pitches. Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists wanting a piece of the action wade in. At the very moment they get down to the real business at hand, citing exceptions to the state’s sunshine law that mean the rest won’t be recorded in meeting minutes, the public’s window into proceedings goes dark.

Lining up seed capital is as easy as walking down the street from the Pocahontas Building toward the capital and down to the left two blocks to the Tobacco Commission.  On paper, the terms of grants are exacting and rigorous, and require payback in the event projects to not move forward. In reality, forgiveness in the event of failure is assumed. Virginians don’t appear to want this.

A poll conducted September 25-October 30, 2018 by the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights asked 2,110 Virginians to agree or disagree with the following statement. “Since Virginia had a $500 million trade deficit with Israel in 2017, Virginia taxpayers SHOULD NOT continue to subsidize Israeli business projects in the Commonwealth.”[4]

A plurality of Virginians 38.1 percent responded that they favored halting all taxpayer funding for Israeli business ventures, 32.7 percent of Virginians were neutral on the question, while 29.2 percent disagreed.

The Virginia Israel Advisory Board is a replicable model for how Israel can be inserted into the heart of state government. If it prevails in Virginia, it can be introduced into any state.

The real purpose of VIAB is giving economic opportunities and political power to Israel, its board members and its extended community members. The public image VIAB wishes to cultivate is that it is building economic opportunities and jobs for all Virginians. But most of the benefits accrue only to Israel and a chosen few.

VIAB continually emits, publicly and privately, unsubstantiated claims about the economic returns on its projects that raise doubts among those closely tracking the numbers. When VIAB brazenly misrepresents what is happening, no government agencies are empowered to publicly call it out. There are no lasting institutional checks and balances restraining VIAB.

For example, VIAB claimed in its 2014 annual report that there were “no matters involving internal control and its operation necessary to bring to management’s attention.” In fact, during that very period, VIAB’s habitual abuses of travel reimbursement policies were called into question, but not directly. The Auditor of Public Accounts performed an audit of the Division of Selected Agency Support Services (not VIAB) which was handling VIAB expense reimbursement when it was operating out of the governor’s office.[5] It uncovered rampant abuses in VIAB’s travel reimbursement—mostly requests for travel to Israel. Special policies were put in place to specifically stop VIAB’s abuse, but they only lasted until VIAB reorganized under the legislative branch.

The taxpayer funded giveaways to Israel orchestrated by VIAB predicated on claims that jobs and tax revenues produce a return on state incentives. Although entities investing in VIAB’s portfolio are legally empowered to verify job creation and tax generation metric compliance through their signed performance agreements, they simply don’t do it.[6] Greensville County can’t produce evidence of any independent verification of Oran Safety Glass performance metrics through its own data collection and monitoring. The same is mostly true in the case of Chesterfield County and Sabra Dipping Company. For the counties, simply not collecting or monitoring the data available under the performance agreement is safer than collecting it. Collecting it would imply oversight, and no county or Virginia state entity has any incentive or safety net if it were to try to oversee or perform checks and balances on the projects of a hybrid political entity with the political power of VIAB and its extended community. Oversight could drive away other potential investors. It might alienate the Tobacco Commission. VIAB’s self-propelled exit from gubernatorial oversight also demonstrates why. VIAB itself has far too much raw political power for checks and balances to function.

VIAB’s culture of secrecy also has a corrosive impact on the state. When asked to comment on VIAB Vice Chairman Charles Lessin’s secret list of VIAB projects, job creation and capital expenditures, the lead counsel of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Sandra McNinch, could not give a knowledgeable response. That is because it had either never seen the list and could not match the numbers to any project in its comprehensive database. The list was probably just another set of make-believe numbers produced to give the Tobacco Commission  executive director cover for justifying his cancelation a $210,000 personal burden on Charles Lessin.

But the VIAB cult of secrecy not only enables such personal gains at the expense of state resources, also makes it impossible to quantify VIAB’s long-term impact on the Virginia economy.



Cumulative Virginia trade deficit in goods with Israel - actual and forecast[7]

Over the past decade, Virginia’s trade deficit with Israel has grown. In 2008 it was $128 million, by 2017 it was just under half a billion dollars. Cumulatively, the negative impact of the unfavorable U.S. Israel Free Trade Area Agreement and VIAB’s focused insertion of Israeli companies continually importing capital goods and other inputs will boost the overall deficit in goods from $3.2 billion in 2018 to a forecast $7.4 billion by 2025 if growth is only arithmetic, rather than geometric, which is unlikely.

Israel’s exports of services, which could become even greater, won’t even be measurable. Also, top line numbers from the Census Bureau international trade division data are misleading when it comes to goods trade with Israel. A large percentage of reported U.S. “exports” to Israel are in reality merely the return of unsold inventories of Israeli diamonds. In 2018 $4.7 billion in Israeli diamonds returned by the U.S. to Israel amounted to 34 percent of total U.S. “exports.”

The Bureau of Economic Analysis is slow to generate “service” export figures and does not break them out at the state level. The figures consist of revenues produced in the U.S. from “majority owned” foreign companies, such as foreign airlines selling tickets to Americans. Under the advantageous terms of the FTA,  Israel exported $7.4 billion in services to the U.S. while the U.S., a global services export leader, exported only $5.9 billion to Israel.[8]

Due to the way Israeli businesses are structured in Virginia, it is unlikely that they are even properly reported to BEA. Many Israeli joint ventures and foreign direct investments are channeled through offshore banking centers for tax and other purposes. Though the ultimately beneficial owner of Sun Tribe Solar is certainly Energix and Alony Hetz, there are almost certainly now, or soon will be, other intermediaries, on paper at least, running the operation through offshore banking centers. BEA is incapable of accurately deriving service export data from such corporate structures. So, Sun Tribe Solar, on paper and in the eyes of the public and of all relevant data collectors and regulators, will continue to be just another home grown Virginia based company, producing jobs, generating revenues and returning benefits to the state. This is an entirely false picture. And this is the challenge presented by VIAB. It is a deceptive enterprise set up to mask its truly harmful purpose. It all begins with the entity’s name.

An advisory board is a body that provides non-binding strategic advice to the management of a corporation, organization, or foundation. It is established by the beneficiary of its advice to accomplish objectives derived from its mission. Real advisory boards have many advantages. The informal nature of an advisory board lends greater flexibility in structure and management compared to an organization’s board of directors. Unlike a private sector or nonprofit board of directors, a typical advisory board does not have the authority to vote on corporate matters or bear legal fiduciary responsibilities. Many new or small businesses choose to have advisory boards in order to benefit from the knowledge of others, without the expense or formality of the board of directors.

VIAB exists because Jewish federations lobbied to bring it into existence. They created VIAB, because they wanted it, and Israel needed it. VIAB therefore is presently inside Virginia’s state government, not because citizens of the Commonwealth or the private sector needs Israeli corporate (and indirectly Israeli) involvement in their state. To the contrary, the needs of Israel, its lobby and its private sector necessitate their involvement in receptive U.S. states.

If the office of the governor truly needed foreign state involvement in developing Virginia’s economy, he would not have needed the ongoing intervention of Jewish federations to accomplish it. However, left to his own devices, he would have likely looked to economic development powerhouses first, such as China or Germany, to sit on a board to advise him. The first advisory board was created centered around Israel due to the political power and machinations of the Jewish federations. Not the needs of the state.

This is the very same trajectory of the U.S. Israel Free Trade Area Agreement.  Upon notification in 1984 that the U.S. was going to enter “negotiations” to bring about a beneficial and duty free trading relationship with Israel, industry stakeholders questioned the premise of the move. In filings opposing the FTA, many questioned why the Reagan administration was pushing a deal with Israel, a tiny market with little to nothing to offer in reciprocity, rather than a larger market with more to offer. Even Thomas Gossage, Group Vice President of Monsanto, questioned the deal on these terms in a letter to the International Trade Commission:

Our government should make the distinction between the advanced developing and developed countries with a strong current account position (such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan) and those with severe balance of payments problems...[9]

In 1984-1985 although 76 major U.S. industry and educational groups stood opposed to the FTA with Israel, including the AFL-CIO, University of California and Hunt-Wesson Foods, they obviously were not devoted full-time to opposing the deal, with 100 percent of their efforts. The Israel affinity organizations including AIPAC and the American Israel Chamber of Commerce and Industry were 100 percent devoted. Alongside a list of low profile commercial entities such as King Super Markets and The Paul Rogers Company, just 17 entities, backed by the Israel lobby, prevailed in getting the FTA passed by congress and signed into law. Despite the theft of an International Trade Commission report containing all the proprietary industry and market data of FTA opponents, and its handling and distribution by AIPAC and the Israeli Ministry of Economics, which was investigated by the FBI, no public interest, law enforcement initiative or economic argument had any impact.

Since U.S. states cannot sign meaningful bilateral trade agreements, Israel partisans in Virginia cannot pass a bilateral trade and investment agreement with Israel. So, they’ve done the next best thing. But what have they created, if it is not an advisory board? Is it an economic development board?

No. An economic development board is a government agency for planning and executing strategies to enhance a state’s position as a state, regional or global business center and to grow the economy. It is responsible for designing and delivering solutions that create value for investors and companies within the stated geographical area. In this way, for states, they seek to create economic opportunities and jobs for the people of the state and help shape the state’s economic future.

Virginia already has an economic development board called the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. It is the entity that in 2019 successfully lured Amazon into the state with the hope of creating 25,000 jobs over the next 20 years. Though created around the same time as VIAB, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s mission is broadly to encourage, stimulate, and support development and expansion of the Commonwealth’s economy. It has offices in Germany, Japan, and South Korea because those are countries with high economic relevance to the state, not because VEDP is staffed with or surrounded by partisan entities hoping to channel 100 percent of their deals to a single foreign country. One of VEDP’s key roles is coordination and strategy to create new businesses and grow existing businesses. This expands the total number of jobs and results in a rising average wage.

VIAB performs activities that are the opposite of an economic development board’s mandate. Rather than shop around for international opportunities that complement state strategy or industrial development needs, it claims it is self-evident that just about any company from Israel is an innovative industry leader with something to offer the U.S.—when they are mostly nothing of the sort. It then deploys political muscle, cronyism, networking, self-dealing, secrecy and non-coordination to push through the deals. In fact, VIAB appears to do the opposite of coordination, that is, increasing net total employment through awareness of existing Virginia industries. In the case of Project Jonah, it appears VIAB’s intention is to replace an established industry, and channel the profits to Israel. VIAB also seeks to channel any opportunities to build the talent base to members of its own community in the form of plum management, consulting and ownership stakes.

When Senator Ryan McDougle proposed that VIAB be merged into the state economic development board, the VEDP, under his substitute bill (see the appendix) VIAB’s executive director would have been appointed by VEDP, and its staff would have worked on projects. VIAB was strongly opposed. As Nathan Shor summarized it, discussing VIAB’s move out the Governor’s office:

But, they wanted to make us state appointees, but it would have been a worthless job at that point, because then you’re turning over every four years, and then why point out a big donor who may have no connection to Israel, you have got to have this connection, you’ve got to be able to pick up the phone like Ralph did, like Dov does, to get to those right decision makers.[10]

In Shor’s view, big donors could not have been as easily deployed to push through deals if VIAB functioned more like a bona fide government agency. But merging VIAB into VEDP would have had a positive impact on corruption. It is hard to see VEDP staff accepting or signing off on Charles Lessin’s sweetheart deal with the Tobacco Commission.  Full time, paid government staff aren’t allowed to act that way. Unfortunately, VIAB’s “eat what you kill” board member compensation system encourages such dealings, to the point that board members who are either participating in or could share the upside benefits of VIAB’s portfolio feel sorrow for the VIAB executive director’s compensation as a salaried employee. Again, according to Nathan Shor:

He’s [Dov Hoch] served Israelis and Americans alike in China [and] all around the world. You know this is a state agency job. It’s not a high paying job. It’s not a benefits-full job to go out there, you know, and eat what you kill so to speak.[11]

VIAB is a “cat’s paw” with a long tail trailing behind it. Economic development boards don’t operate that way. The four-year turnover Shor cites as a deficiency is actually check and balance that ensures clean government. Again, it is the complete opposite of VIAB, where many board members such as Mel Chaskin, Charles Lessin and Nathan Shor have been active for many more years, as Shor readily admits:

I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the board now for VIAB for about six years, because I was the president of the (Jewish Community) Federation (of Richmond) I went in and I’ve been able to stay on the board. There has been some really exciting stuff that VIAB has been able to pull off over the years…

Legitimate economic development boards also take pains to encourage research and development in local universities. If one only reads announcements about the MOU (and not the text within the MOU itself), one might think that was the point of the Strauss Group Sabra MOU with Virginia Tech. But close inspection again reveals the opposite.

The MOU places Virginia Tech into the role of an order taker, rather than innovator. It is supposed to labor locally and nationally to create the markets Sabra and Strauss Group need to expand. Virginia Tech only gets the scraps from Strauss Group’s table. Its dairy and chickpea research and development in Israel would not be practical in Israel, with its vastly different climate. So, it is farming that out through Virginia Tech. But the MOU makes clear that any true innovation will continue to take place, be patented by and be proprietary to, Strauss Group and not Virginia Tech. The MOU will over the long term compete with and diminish the size of Virginia Tech’s own research and development portfolio and patents.

VIAB’s direct and indirect contacts with institutions of higher learning in Virginia also have a chilling effect. If Southwest Virginia Community College doesn’t want to play ball as “Project Jonah’s” training center, will VIAB work to punish it by having its budget cut? Should such fears even be part of the equation?

So, is VIAB a chamber of commerce? A chamber of commerce (or board of trade) is a form of business network, for example, a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the local interests of businesses.

Business owners in towns, cities and sometimes regions form these local societies to advocate on behalf of the business community. Businesses within the declared geographical confines make up the members and they elect a board of directors or executive council to set policy for the chamber. The board or council then hires a president, CEO or executive director, plus staffing appropriate to the size of the operation, to run the organization.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is probably one of the best known chambers in America due to its size and visibility. It lobbies Congress on behalf of American businesses and has been around since 1912. City and state chambers of commerce have been around a long time as well. The Charleston Chamber of Commerce in South Carolina traces its existence back to colonial times in 1773.

VIAB clearly is not a chamber of commerce. Although it claims to want to provide jobs and build the tax base in Virginia, its primary focus is on bringing foreign, in this case Israeli, companies into Virginia. That means it does not fit the category.

Neither, should it be added, do most Israel-focused U.S. organizations that actually call themselves Chambers of Commerce fit inside the chamber mold. Most, like the Texas chamber VIAB’s executive director once led, focus on creating opportunities for Israeli companies and their Israel advocacy community members rather than a U.S. region. They try to frame their work as beneficial in the same way that VIAB does, but many of their activities upon close examination look to be mostly Israeli-serving and self-serving.

If VIAB is not an advisory board, not an economic development board, and not a chamber of commerce, what precisely is it? The answer becomes clearer not only from this book’s exploration of VIAB’s actual activities, but also VIAB’s continually evolving website, which now states:

The Virginia Israel Advisory Board (VIAB) is a government agency that helps Israeli companies build and grow their U.S. operations in Virginia.[12]

Israel has limited sales potential in its domestic market because it is a small country. Israel also has limited regional export potential because of the way it came into being and international relations. Massive—though long-denied—ethnic cleansing before and during its “War of Independence” followed by ongoing repression of Palestinians have made its products and services anathema among neighboring country consumers.

Despite the ongoing hype of being a “start-up nation,” Israel cannot compete with major research centers of innovation such as Silicon Valley as a developer of intellectual property. But it can use its single overriding comparative advantage to promote its exports and foreign direct investment.

Intel, Microsoft, Google and others have created thousands of high paying jobs and invested billions in venture capital in Israel. It cannot be seriously argued that Israel’s high-tech industries are primarily the result of Israeli research and development. Like its clandestine nuclear weapons production infrastructure, it is heavily reliant on the mass importation of foreign know-how, capital and materials. That foreign investment could have gone to Asia or Europe. It wound up in Israel for the same reason Israel’s companies are entering Virginia.

When countries strategize to increase exports and foreign direct investments, they focus intensely on their comparative advantages. That is, their ability to carry out a particular activity more efficiently than another. The government entities and domestic nonprofits that perform the role “in-country” are known as export and foreign direct investment promotion councils. In that sense, VIAB most closely represents an Israeli export promotion council. With one twist. It has, like a cowbird laying its eggs in the nest of another species, managed to externalize completely the council’s operation costs while selling the switch as of great benefit or equal value to the unsuspecting parents.

Israel’s true comparative advantage is unlike any other country in the world. As applied to Virginia, it is clearly not that an Israeli company can make better hummus than any U.S. firm. AquaMaof’s recirculating aquaculture technology, patents and all, is not technologically superior enough alone to destroy Blue Ridge Aquaculture.  It takes more than that.

As already demonstrated, Oran Safety Glass was given the secret recipe to make the Army’s top secret armored glass. Its own products were not initially acceptable to the Pentagon. The same goes for the trendy front company for Alony Hetz and Energix. Sun Tribe Solar LLC’s comparative advantage does not lie in solar energy equipment, savvy project management, or even its marketing hype. The same is also true for UBQ’s transparently silly plan to add to the plastic waste stream by producing ever more plastic out of garbage. Yehuda Pearl’s demand for government support seems to almost intentionally hammer home the comparative advantage that he’s really leveraging.

VIAB’s activities in Virginia will produce billions in revenues for Israel and millions for VIAB insiders. As illustrated in the chapter about Sun Tribe Solar and other chapters, the highest end, highest value knowledge worker jobs will be staffed by Israelis and the chosen few from VIAB’s extended ecosystem. Lala Korall, upon reflection, might more accurately characterize VIAB, and not Project Jonah, as the real “vertical operation.”

These case studies in Virginia expose and documents a simple truth. The state Israel advocacy ecosystem—the Israel lobby in Virginia—has built a new mechanism for self-dealing in order to build its own—and Israel’s—economic and political power. It is milking state taxpayers and pools of state funding on entirely false pretenses. It is an integrated strategy from the name it has given itself to the regular reports of inflated estimates of its economic contribution. It has bypassed the legislative process, because it could not win funding for such projects on their own merits if mitigated by even extremely flawed government representation of the populace. When VIAB negotiates funding to be signed off by counties, increasingly all relevant aspects of the relevant meetings are closed to the public.[13] It is only after skimming off most of the cream churned from its projects and channeling it to insiders, that the milk is touted to the taxpaying public as a new and essential boost to the state’s economic health. VIAB is unaccountable to job loss or the bankruptcy of bystander Virginia companies.

In summary, Israel’s key comparative advantage in Virginia is its small group of highly educated, savvy, interconnected and extremely active Israel advocates. They are willing to do whatever it takes to advance their cause, and furiously fight any who meaningfully challenge their activities. They are not trying to seize market share from American and Virginia companies because they are evil. They are not debasing the fiduciary responsibilities of the Tobacco Commission because such debasement is their primary objective. They do not continually “lead on” Tazewell County economic development officials just to avoid repaying $1.5 million in free grant money—although this money will almost certainly never be repaid. The crookedly lopsided Sun Tribe Solar contracts foisted on public schools are not made purely as predatory rent-seeking. They are also not moving around their government organization, either from the governor’s office to the legislature or into Virginia Tech, purely as a show of force.

No. They are doing all this for Israel and to politically empower their own community. They are trying to do it in a way that hides the extensive self-dealing and lack of any great benefit to outsiders.[14] They are doing it in a way that insulates and protects Israel from any consequences for its human rights record by human rights campaigners and others concerned about Middle East policy. When similar—but by no means the same—strategies were attempted on a much smaller scale by advocates for trade and normal relations with apartheid South Africa, they failed. So far, Israel and its advocates are succeeding.

Most members of the VIAB, Jewish federations and broader Israel advocacy ecosystem are American citizens and have an inherent right as Americans to advocate for whatever cause they wish. But they don’t have the right to do it as a government agency, cloaking its activities in secrecy, engaging in constant self-dealing and selling it all to the public on false pretexts. That is why Virginians, including many of the Jewish faith, should ramp up their work as state human rights advocates to further expose and challenge VIAB.

This book makes the case that VIAB is an inherently conflicted government agency engaged in corrupt dealings, that should be permanently abolished. Americans from other states should work to ensure that VIAB equivalents are not sprouting up in their midst. If other hybrids are engaged in self-dealing on false pretexts, and extracting unwarranted state support empowered by self-dealing, they too should be shut down. The cost of such cronyism is far too high.

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[1] Hoch, Dov “What VIAB Does and How it Benefits Virginia,” speech at the Weinstein Jewish Community Center, Richmond, VA, April 4, 2019. Introduction and remarks by former president of the Jewish Federation of Richmond Nathan Shor

[2] Hoch, Dov “What VIAB Does and How it Benefits Virginia,” speech at the Weinstein Jewish Community Center, Richmond, VA, April 4, 2019. Introduction and remarks by former president of the Jewish Federation of Richmond Nathan Shor

[3] Hoch, Dov “What VIAB Does and How it Benefits Virginia,” speech at the Weinstein Jewish Community Center, Richmond, VA, April 4, 2019. Introduction and remarks by former president of the Jewish Federation of Richmond Nathan Shor

[4] Virginia Coalition on Human Rights, Virginia Poll on Taxpayer Subsidies for Israeli Companies, September 22, 2018.

[5] Report on Audit, Division of Selected Agency Services for the year ended June 30, 2014, Commonwealth of Virginia

[6] The author requested evidence of performance agreement compliance monitoring from both counties. Chesterfield County produced limited information on performance agreement compliance.  See Greensville County had no information on actual capital investment by Oran or job verification. See

[7] U.S. Census Division Statistics, forecast years are the author’s own using arithmetic data regression.

[9] Thomas Gossage letter to Secretary Kenneth Mason, U.S. International Trade Commission, May 2, 1984. AIPAC, Espionage and the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement, Israel Lobby Archive,

[10] Hoch, Dov “What VIAB Does and How it Benefits Virginia,” speech at the Weinstein Jewish Community Center, Richmond, VA, April 4, 2019. Introduction and remarks by former president of the Jewish Federation of Richmond Nathan Shor

[11] Hoch, Dov “What VIAB Does and How it Benefits Virginia,” speech at the Weinstein Jewish Community Center, Richmond, VA, April 4, 2019. Introduction and remarks by former president of the Jewish Federation of Richmond Nathan Shor

[12] Consulted October 13, 2019

[13] For example, Sabra Dipping Company is now seeking funds to expand. The Chesterfield County Economic Development Authority has elevated to the highest level the art of “preemptively closed to the public and sunshine law” meetings on the matter. See

[14] VIAB seems to have severely underestimated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act’s potential to expose its operation. It is now nearly impossible to research and obtain government files about the operations of national Israel advocacy organizations such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as completely and efficiently under the Freedom of Information Act due to legal precedents which have rendered impotent the federal sunshine law.