From the Washington Post (8/9):
A record 81 House members, about a fifth of the chamber, are spending a week in Israel this month, courtesy of a foundation set up by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby.It’s apparently the largest number of lawmakers in the 20 years or so that these trips have been undertaken. They are run every other August in nonelection years. A group of 26 Democrats — the senior member is House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) — is already there … (and) 55 Republican members , traveling in two groups, will take week-long jaunts to the Holy Land.
Yes, you heard that right: we’ve narrowly avoided a default on our national debt, our credit rating has been downgraded by the S&P, US markets are in a downfall, unemployment is at 9%, 10 million families are facing foreclosure on their homes by next year, and 20% of the House of Representatives is going to Israel on an all expense paid junket.
It’s not an understatement to say there is something horribly wrong with the priorities of our national leaders. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation nails this point right on the head:
We are in an economic crisis. We’ve got to send a stringent warning to our elected officials that we will no longer accept business as usual. Take action today to demand that Members of Congress do their job to respond to this crisis by working in their districts and listening to us, not by taking lobbyist-paid junkets to guarantee their support for even more money and weapons to Israel.
If you share my sentiments, you might want to find out if your Rep is participating in this mega-junket. Click here for some helpful action suggestions provided by the US Campaign.
My name is David Pinto; I am a member of Congregation Dorshei Emet, the Reconstructionist Congregation in Montreal, Canada.
I appreciate this comment, although it does not concern me as a Canadian. OTOH, there are lots of Canadian parlementarians who travel to Israel under official auspices, as it were.
BTW, are there any restrictions on my crossposting this item , or any other item on your blog, to other lists?
Not at all, David. Please free to cross-post – and thanks for your comment!
Surely, any informed person understands that since the time of President Truman (with a brief interruption under Dwight Eisenhower), when it comes to the Middle East, the pro-Israel lobby has played a determining role in shaping U.S. policy. However, America has reached the point of “diminishing returns,” indeed negative returns, in its unquestioning support of Israel, including “no strings” taxpayer funded aid to the tune of nearly $10 million per day along with $1 billion per year in tax-deductible contributions from American individuals and organizations and interest paid on aid before it is due (neither available to any other foreign state). Day by day, it is becoming evident that exclusionary/expansionist/occupier/oppressor Israel is having an increasingly detrimental effect on the economic and geopolitical interests of the U.S. In his Farewell Address, George Washington admonished his fellow citizens to steer clear of a “passionate attachment” to another nation, as it could create “the illusion of a common interest…where no common interest exists.” America will inevitably act upon the wisdom of its founding father. It has no choice.
David, you would be doing Israel a major favor if you could convince people for the US to stop giving aid to Israel. It harms Israel and the only reason it is given is for political reasons. Israel doesn’t need the money, but it is in the interest of both the Israeli and American leadership for it to be seen that Israel is “dependent” on the US. For the Israeli leadership, it gives the opportunity for the Israeli leadership to avoid taking action when needed. The best example was during the massive suicide bomber campaign in 2001-2002. After repeated, bloody attacks, Prime Minister Sharon kept refusing to take military action to stop it, saying “the Americans won’t like it if we take action”. In the end, he was forced to do so anyway. For the Americans, it allows Israel to be pressured to buy American products, such as Boeing passenger jet aircraft, even though El Al was offered a better deal by Airbus. Most of the defense aid money is spent in the US anyway. Today, Israeli combat boots and combat rations are made in the US instead of Israel so the aid ships jobs out of Israel and to the US.
Another factor that has been preventing ending the aid is worry that having the US cut the aid unilaterally could possibly be interpreted by hostile Arab states as the US cutting Israel loose. It is precisely this sort of thing that led to the Six Day War in 1967. France announced a unilateral suspension of arms shipments to Israel before the war. Nasser interpreted this as Israel being abandoned so he stepped up his threats, leading to war.
Thus, the best thing for the US AND Israel would be a mutually-agreed upon phasing out of the aid. I urge all friends of Israel to lobby the politicians involved in both countries to act upon this as soon as possible.
“you would be doing Israel a major favor if you could convince people for the US to stop giving aid to Israel. It harms Israel…
Always the victim!
“France announced a unilateral suspension of arms shipments to Israel before the war. Nasser interpreted this as Israel being abandoned so he stepped up his threats, leading to war.”
What a “unique” take on the 1967 war!
it is not that easy…the aid given by america is all millitary hardware….the arms mgf need a certain economy of scale…the israelis are the test beds…and also save uncle sam from useing their own forces to protect this vital crossroad….while you and your israel bashers…cant see the logic of a american-israeli alliance….the american prople and their reps. understand that israel is by itself in the world,and needs to survive….
Called my CT. Reps.
House Rep John Larson has no plans to go to Israel.
Blumenthal’s office wouldn’t commit which I take as a yes…..he is VERY pro Israel.
Lieberman is a total loss and thank heavens he is leaving office next year.