Only 20 percent of U.S. House of Representatives will visit Israel during summer recess

Israel/Palestine

From Jerusalem Post, 81 congressmen to visit Israel during the summer recess, including leaders Steny Hoyer and Eric Cantor:


Most of the representatives are freshmen congressmen, with 47 – or fully half of the freshmen Republicans voted into office in 2010 – making the trip.

For many of them, this will be their first trip to Israel.

The week-long trips are sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a charitable organization affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which brings large delegations of congressmen here every other August.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) will head the Democratic delegation, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) will lead one of the Republican groups.

This is just another example of how we are living in inflationary times. In 2009, the year before the last election there were only 55 members of Congress going to Israel during the August recess, 25 Republicans followed by 30 Democrats.  This brings up the old joke: “Why doesn’t Israel want to become the 51st state? Because then it would only have two senators.”

29 Responses

  1. PissedOffAmerican
    August 8, 2011, 10:29 am

    “For many of them, this will be their first trip to Israel”

    Well, they had to lose thier virginity sooner or later. Might as well do it while Rome burns, here at home.

    Ya gotta love it. For you business men out there, I pose the question…..

    Do you take vacations when your business is facing bankruptcy?

    “House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) will head the Democratic delegation, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) will lead one of the Republican groups”

    If there are any of these pieces of shit that deserve ONE WAY TICKETS, it is these two. I’d suggest that we take up a collection and attempt to bribe these two whores into staying over there, but we’d never be able to surpass Israel’s expenditure in assuring that these two fucking sluts continue to operate in DC against our best interests.

    • Chu
      August 8, 2011, 11:30 am

      I would donate to the cause. They should stay and hang out with the settlers. They’d learn about the new frontier in a whole new light.

    • Les
      August 9, 2011, 9:04 pm

      A reminder that both houses of Congress have always been buy-partisan.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        August 10, 2011, 2:01 am

        But there has never been another controversial issue in which they come together like this one. Plus, the truth is they don’t have to formally buy most of them. All members of Congress soon learn that by being a loyal supporter of Israel ‘they’ will not support someone to run against you.

        As a pro-Israel member of Congress told the New Republic’s Morton Kondracke, (Aug. 7, 1989, that “). “It’s not out of affection anymore that Israel gets $3 billion a year. It’s from fear that you’ll wake up one morning and find that an opponent has $500,000 to run against you.”

  2. stopaipac
    August 8, 2011, 11:24 am

    Here’s an idea. Many Congresspeople have never spent a significant amount of time in a struggling community in the United States. So here in California, why don’t we lobby to have Steny et.al. visit places like Bayview neighborhood in San Francisco, or West Oakland, or the Iron Triangle in Richmond, California or South Los Angeles or go to Chicano Park in San Diego? Demand that they make solid commitments to provide for OUR security and prosperity, which is part of their duty under the US Constitution, after all. We can dream, right?

  3. Chu
    August 8, 2011, 11:28 am

    These toadies are going to come back and sing the praises for Israel because of the looming UN vote.

    I would commend any congressperson who went off the guided tour and went to the West Bank and Gaza and came back without the hasbara talking points and could freely express in the media what they saw and experienced. But this is America, I should stop dreaming.

  4. Dan Crowther
    August 8, 2011, 11:53 am

    This is really rather remarkable. What are they going there to see? Or probably a better question, what are they going there to hear?

    probably lectures on how to further “Israelify” the US.

  5. James
    August 8, 2011, 1:08 pm

    i guess it is like a trip to mecca… you have to do it once in your lifetime….

  6. Leper Colonialist
    August 8, 2011, 1:14 pm

    No surprise that the Likudist creature Eric Cantor is one of our peripatetic parliamantarians.

    I wonder how many of that 20% voted against the extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless? Or the Obama health care legislation, flawed as it was? Or to raise temporarily the US debt ceiling? Or any number of proposals one might care to mention which do not involve the care and feeding of Israeli aggression, war crimes and ethnic cleasing, but might be of some incidental material benefit to the US masses?

    But of course, were one to mention any of that, Guess What one would be accused of?

    Following up Dan Crowther’s comment above, when our reps return to our fair shores, what can we expect them to say? And to vote for? I shudder.

    • Dan Crowther
      August 9, 2011, 8:29 am

      I shudder as well, LC –

      my guess: blah blah blah, security, blah blah…………

      but this time “security” will mean “protection from the proletariat” — our reps gotta get their messaging together on the “how can we steal from our citizens even more than we already have been, while not getting the guillotine….” platform they are cobbling together. Israel is a blueprint for that sht. Cuz we already know, in another couple of days there is going to be a “national security emergency” in Israel (the reserve call ups are an example of that sort of manipulation) and the protests will end.
      The congressmen want to make sure that they can do the same thing (in the US), when people realize en masse what was just done to them (the “debt-deal”).

  7. Taxi
    August 8, 2011, 1:25 pm

    Yippee, an Apartheid summer camp for the morally challenged.

    • James
      August 8, 2011, 6:45 pm

      lol.. maybe they can ride into town on a caterpillar and bulldoze a few 2nd class citizens houses too, hopefully while not running over any american protesters..

  8. anonymouscomments
    August 8, 2011, 1:54 pm

    i think we need to elect some people into congress who PROFESS they are agnostic/atheist. of course many are “professed” christians, but not really christian. oddly, the NT would speak to justice, coexistence, and compassion, if congressman followed the teachings of jesus… and aren’t christians living under occupation as well? but there are no brown christians… let alone arab christians…

    but in the US, evangelicals and many major churches have been hijacked. there is now a sick level of philosemitism and cult-like love for israel, fostered with some serious work by zionists. a just christian would be fine, but if they curry favor with mainstream christian movements, they are not free-thinkers, but political opportunists, and part of their analysis includes nothing but love for anything israel.

    jewish man speaking about the trends in christianity:
    link to youtube.com
    interesting to note the history of prevailing christian theological thinking re jews. the historical antisemitism was horrible, but the philosemitism and israel-first mentality does not make amends. treating them as people is the obvious answer. further, with some guidance from zionists, the antisemitism has been fully replaced by islamophobia. gotta have someone to hate right?

    i once attended calvary chapel (a large chain of evangelical christian churches) with a christian family member. i went for a specific reason. the church service had a special guest speaker.

    i was treated to someone high in the IDF, in army clothes, with a slick powerpoint presentation. it was the usual hasbara on israel…. peace loving, coexistence, nice to the palestinians who even serve in the knesset, living in a sea of hostile muslim/arab nations who seek their destruction, jerusalem at last protected for *all* faiths (puke, judaization?), and with an added dose of prophecy and “jew-love” mixed in from select bible quotes… garnering $$ and unwavering support from the congregation, for the pinacle of god’s work on earth- ISRAEL.

    grrrrrr… religion used to propagate bias, injustice, war, and insanity. and they all think they are so righteous and doing god’s work.

    • mudder
      August 8, 2011, 8:23 pm

      In the 70’s I attended Calvary Chapel in California and read all of Hal Lindsey’s pro-Israel apocalyptic books. As I’ve matured in outlook I’ve gone over to Presbyterian Church U.S.A., which supports justice for the Palestinians. See link to mondoweiss.net BTW, my wife is an Arab Christian of Palestinian descent.

    • mudder
      August 8, 2011, 8:50 pm

      But no Christian denomination has been more vocal of support for the Palestinians than the Quakers.

  9. Les
    August 8, 2011, 4:40 pm

    How many of them favor the pardoning of superspy Jonathan Pollard?

  10. mudder
    August 8, 2011, 7:07 pm

    One congressman on this free vacation is Jesse Jackson Jr., whose official web site states “Congressman Jackson has been a vocal leader in protecting the security of Israel.” Let’s see if Jesse Jr. understands Jim Crow when he sees it.

    • anonymouscomments
      August 8, 2011, 10:05 pm

      sadly he won’t see it… i’m sure the sponsors choreograph it all, minute by minute. not only will they lie incessantly and portray it as a multi-cultural paradise, they likely have some select “pro-israel” palestinians to trot out during the tour… christian and muslim. like paid court jesters. maybe they will visit fake bedouins like we did on my birthright tour (i realized the guy might be jewish and asked…. he admitted he was jewish…. turns out they set up a fake bedouin tourist attraction; gotta keep the $$ in the tribe, and control the message ;).

      has any group tried to organize congressional trips in the west bank, led by the PA/locals/internationals/the rare israeli tour group that goes to area A/B [green olive tours]? i guess it would be a nail in their political coffin from AIPAC if anyone attended, but i have never heard of it tried. a truth tour instead of a BS propaganda tour.

  11. yourstruly
    August 8, 2011, 7:45 pm

    justice for palestine does it for all of us?

    the take-off

    ahead?

    the ascending slopes of freedom’s majestic heights

    where one equals one

  12. Theo
    August 9, 2011, 8:16 am

    “Only 20% will visit….”

    Only 20%? They were elected to represent only their constituents and not to visit countries of no interest to us. They should visit countries vital to our interests, like China, Brasil, India or even Russia.
    The voters should take names and make sure they never again will be sent to Washington, those traitors to our nation.

  13. Kathleen
    August 9, 2011, 9:55 am

    After the bought out Bob Ney scandal I thought there was legislation passed to knock out “pay to play” trips. How did the I lobby get around this? I know a silly question but thought I would ask anyway.

    Jeff I was the lady on the corner near the front of the Aipac conference where we both stood as a young Palestinian man was telling his story about his brothers dying. And I asked the older Jewish man who was listening at a distance if he had had relatives killed in the Holocaust. He answered “yes” and all shared compassionate statements and feelings. I then went on to ask him if he thought “Jew’s lives were more valuable than Palestinians” And he answered with anger “absolutely, no question about it” His wife came at us with claws and nasty statements. You had been capturing on a camera…did you get that?

    • Jeffrey Blankfort
      August 9, 2011, 12:11 pm

      Kathleen, of course I remember you and the incident which can be seen here which I grabbed on my Flip camera, but I don’t have the woman on it but her husband was more than enough: link to youtube.com

      There was a new regulation added to the lobbying laws that was intended to restrict lobbyists from paying for congressional trips but does anyone think AIPAC was going to let some lousy law get in its way and does anyone seriously think that Congress would do anything to stop it? Of course not. So AIPAC uses a tax-exempt “charity,” AIEF, the American-Israel Education Foundation, that it created in 1989, to get around the law, the goal of which is “Furthering understanding of the United States/Israel relations.”
      link to charitynavigator.org

      • Kathleen
        August 10, 2011, 9:41 am

        Whoa…great catch. For a full picture of what was taking place. Is that Jeffrey and I as well as an Egyptian woman were listening to a young man talk and weep about the deaths of his two Palestinian brothers who had died after I believe being shot by the IDF and were unwilling to get medical help because of checkpoints. He was weeping. Several of us started crying.
        This older Jewish man attending the Aipac conference was also standing there. I turned to him and asked him in a compassionate way if he had lost relatives in the Holocaust. He answered “yes” I sincerely shared deep concern, outrage and sadness over his expressed loss. Then went onto stir any compassion that he might have for the young Palestinian mans story. Clearly he did not. According to him a Jewish life is far more valuable than a Jewish life.

        You can see his wife enter the clip at the end. She was enraged and came at us with her hands in a claw position repeating “yes a Jewish life is more valuable than a Palestinian life”

        There is the essence of the problem in the I/P conflict. Ethnocentricity gone wild

      • Kathleen
        August 10, 2011, 9:43 am

        Thanks. Do you know the name of the law passed to restrict lobbyist from paying for congressional trips?

        Jeffrey have you all ready done a blog on this issue. Hope someone here at Mondoweiss will if you have not.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        August 11, 2011, 2:20 am

        Kathleen, I don’t have the name of the bill but as I recall it came as a result of the Jack Abramhoff scandal. AIPAC was very worried about but, fortunately, for it had created the AIEF to gallop through the loopholes that AIPAC made sure were in the legislation.

        I haven’t written anything on this issue but there has been at least one article about it in the Washington Rept. on the Middle East.

      • Kathleen
        August 10, 2011, 9:47 am

        that link to charity navigator is not working. Unable to link to the site.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        August 11, 2011, 2:22 am

        This just worked for me: link to charitynavigator.org

  14. PeaceThroughJustice
    August 11, 2011, 1:48 am

    Kathleen, here’s an article with some background on the original attempt back in 2006 to control the AIPAC junkets. It didn’t last long–

    Ban on Political Junkets to Israel Deals Blow to Lobbying Efforts

    Halber said that if the ethics commission does not change its mind, local leaders are poised to find ways of changing their funding system to make the trips possible.

    “One thing is clear,” Halber concluded. “We are not stopping our missions to Israel.”

    • Jeffrey Blankfort
      August 11, 2011, 10:54 pm

      As important as is its “you’ve just a won a free trip to Israel,” program is for member of Congress, and not just Congress, but for bright young opportunists on America’s college campuses, AIPAC/AIEF is but one of a number of Jewish organizations that are in the business. The others, which include virtually all the several hundred Jewish federations around the country provide the same travel services with the same itineraries for local mayors, supervisors, city council members, police chiefs and sheriffs, “minority” community leaders, churchmen, and unprincipled journalists and media talking heads.

      One of the more important ones is the America-Israel Friendship League founded in 1971 by, among others, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, Senators Henry “Scoop” Jackson and Nelson A. Rockefeller, and A. Philip Randolph, a civil rights and union leader who ended up becoming a lickspittle for the Zionist Lobby

      According to AIFL’s website, “Each year, as Chair of the Delegations Committee of the America-Israel Friendship League, former New York Attorney General Robert Abrams oversees trips to Israel taken by scores of Americans representing a wide variety of professions and leadership roles.

      These missions to Israel include groups of Attorneys General from across the United States, Speakers and Majority Leaders of state legislatures, professors of Middle East Studies, business CEOs, school superintendents and state education officials, Harvard Law students, campus newspaper editors, architects, and even culinary writers.

      According to Mr. Abrams, the goal of the AIFL missions and the reason he is involved, is “to strengthen the bonds and reinforce the shared values between these two great, vibrant democracies.’

      These trips pay off. When Israel was under fire for it barbaric Operation Cast Lead in 2009, ten states attorney generals, several of whom had taken AIFL trips to Israel, came to its defense. link to aifl.dreamhosters.com

      Three weeks ago, ten more state attorneys general made the trip courtesy of the AIFL and we can expect they, too, can be counted on to come to Israel’s defense when called upon.

      Even if the justice for Palestine movement had paid attention to this well organized and critical component of Israel’s operations in the US, it would have provided a challenge as I discovered 10 years ago when I wrote the following to my email list on May 16, 2001:

      “Tom Ammiano, who I have supported as a progressive alternative to the Willie Brown/ Democratic Party machine, has demonstrated that he is as opportunistic and insensitive to the plight of the Palestinians as is virtually every other politician who ends up in thrall to the pro-Israel lobby.
      “Friday’s No. California Jewish Bulletin (5/11) reported from Jerusalem that Tom Ammiano, chair of the SF Board of Supervisors, was visiting Israel as a guest of the ‘Jewish Community Federation’s ‘Journey of Pride’ contingent–12 members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.’

      “Said Ammiano, ‘I’m always moved by the struggle–the Israeli struggle and the queer struggle. The cause is a noble one and I’m humbled by it.’ Ammiano’s visit might be compared with that of Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda who visited Israeli troops as they were besieging Beirut in 1982.”

      My efforts to get pro-Palestinian activists to respond Ammiano’s statement fell flat. It was the same in Berkeley when it came to Black congressman, Ron Dellums, a self-proclaimed “socialist” who not only would not touch the Palestinian issue but betrayed the anti-apartheid struggle when, as chair of the House Armed Services Committee, he gutted a plank in the anti-apartheid legislation that would have penalized Israel for its arm sales to South Africa.

      The fact that I forced him to admit it publicly at a major anti-apartheid conference at UC Berkeley might have led serious anti-apartheid activists, both black and white, to openly criticize him, but the only mention of it was in the Middle East Labor Bulletin which I edited and Israeli Foreign Affairs, an excellent publication that was published in the 80s and 90s.
      Clearly, for those who remained silent, protecting the reputation of Dellums, like Ammiano, was more important than eliminating apartheid in South Africa. Which may help people understand my cynicism when it comes to the American left.

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