Congressional Junkets to Israel - by Stephen Lendman
Eighty-one House members, one fifth of the chamber, will visit Israel during the traditional summer recess, instead of addressing festering local issues at home during the nation's gravest economic crisis too serious to ignore.
Arriving first were 26 Democrats together, including Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (MD). Another 55 Republicans will follow in two groups, including 47 freshmen.
Heading each are House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) and House Whip Kevin McCarthy (CA). Spouses are also going at an estimated cost of $8,000, including business-class flights, first-class hotels, meals, transportation, side trips, guides and incidentals.
Red carpet treatment is assured along with considerable pro-Israeli messaging, especially for new incoming freshmen. They'll meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, as well as PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah. Legitimate Hamas leaders are excluded.
Their entire week is choreographed and full, from early morning to late evening, including breakfast and dinner speakers, as well as meetings with other government officials.
For security reasons, their schedule isn't known, but while there, they'll get walking tours of Jerusalem's Old City, the Western Wall (Wailing Wall or Kotel), as well as visits to Masada, the Dead Sea, Holocaust memorial, Golan, Lebanese border, and Tel Aviv, with moments to relax by the Mediterranean.
Most of all, they'll get intensive pro-Israeli messaging to assure one-sided support, reinforced by party leaders back home. At the same time, out of sight and mind will be:
-- daily Israeli state terror;
-- its planes bombing Gaza;
-- extreme unaddressed needs of over 1.6 million besieged people;
-- fishermen interdicted and, at times, shot at sea;
-- Israeli snipers murdering farmers in their fields;
-- regular security force incursions into Palestinian communities;
-- almost daily arrests, detentions, and horrific treatment in Israeli prisons;
-- children beaten and arrested;