I can understand why the president needs a vacation. But I doubt that ten days at Martha’s Vineyard will do it. I am not sure that the President of the United States ever gets a vacation. I can imagine that there is always someone following him around wherever he goes with a telephone and news reports. He would probably love to have a few days beyond the criticism of those who seem to be appalled that during a time of financial crisis he could think of anything but addressing their concerns.
What I don’t understand is how so many members of our Congress who delight in questioning the President’s loyalty to the American people can take their own recess to spend time, not among their constituents, but in Israel. During this time of financial anxiety, members of Congress from all across America, are not home listening to the concerns of their own people. They are in Israel listening to the moans of the Israeli government. While Americans plead for action, our law makers are focused on the expansionist ambitions of another country. What a profound commitment for those elected to represent the needs of the people who voted for them.
I am also offended that the media in such countries as Britain, Iran, India and Lebanon found this conduct news worthy, while our own U.S. media has offered little, if any, coverage of this action of about a fifth of our congress who act as thought they have been elected to represent Israel.
Of course, to be fair, I understand that their first class trip to Israel is not just a free junket. In the words of Stephen Walt, our 55 Republican and 26 Democrat members of Congress are expected to dance to the piper’s tune:
Why do Congresspersons do this, especially when it is obvious that they ought to be worrying about conditions here at home? Mostly because such junkets burnish a legislator’s ‘pro-Israel’ credentials and facilitate campaign fundraising. … Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) has reassured Israelis that financial challenges “will not have any adverse effect on America’s determination to meet its promise to Israel.” Translation: we may be cutting Medicare and Social Security for U.S. citizens, but Israelis – whose country has the 27th highest per capita income in the world – will continue to get generous subsidies from Uncle Sucker.
Josh Ruebner is more specific:
Members of Congress will be expected to sing for their lavish dinners by honoring President Bush’s 2007 pledge to provide the Israeli military with $30 billion of taxpayer-funded weapons, between 2009 and 2018. So far, proposed increases in military aid to Israel have been spared from the budgetary chopping block by President Obama and a compliant Congress that treats Israeli militarism as more sacrosanct than medical care for seniors.
One thing for sure, our eighty-one will not be shown the conditions in which people are forced to live in Gaza and the West Bank. They will celebrate the greatness of Israel without giving one thought to the blood, pain and suffering that other people are paying for that “greatness.” They will not hear a word about Palestinian human rights or the right of Palestinians to live free of occupation. They will come home filled with the memory of Yad Vashem and a fear of saying anything that might offend Benjamin Netanyahu.
My main concern is not just the inability of Congress to address the financial needs of so many Americans but the lack of compassion on the part of our leaders for the suffering people of Palestine they so eagerly finance. Money to Israel means misery for the Palestinians. It’s unbelievable that our leaders cannot see this, or worse still, can see it very well and just don’t care.
August 26, 2011
 Stephen M. Walt, The Greatest Elected Body that Money can Buy, (Antiwar.com, August 11, 2011).
 Josh Ruebner, Robbing Peter to Pay Israel, (Antiw ar.com. August 12, 20110