Americans are suffering massive cutbacks in social services, an unemployment rate stuck above 9 percent, and 10 million families face foreclosure on their homes by next year. As Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantorshould be at home during this August congressional recess, meeting with constituents and proposing to them and the entire country how he will help them cope with their difficult circumstances.
Instead, the politician is gallivanting around Israel, leading one of three congressional delegations heading there this month on all-expense-paid junkets organized by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), a “charitable affiliate” of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most influential of the myriad pro-Israel lobbying outfits.
Eighty-one representatives, nearly one-fifth of the House, will participate in these jaunts, which, according to the Washington Post, include “a round-trip flight in business class for lawmakers and their spouses (that alone is worth about $8,000), fine hotels and meals, side trips, and transportation and guides.”
But these congressional delegations are not all fun and games. Representatives 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 tax-payer-funded weapons between 2009 and 2018. So far, 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. This despite the fact that Israel misuses the weapons, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act, to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians living under its illegal 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.
According to aidtoisrael.org, a US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation website, constituents in Virginia’s 7th congressional district will cough up an astonishing $73 million in taxes as their share for the Israeli military during this 10-year period. With this same amount of money, each year the federal governmentinstead could give nearly 900 low-income families housing vouchers, or retrain 1,200 unemployed workers for green jobs, or fund early reading programs for nearly 2,200 at-risk children, or provide primary health care to 59,000 uninsured people in Rep. Cantor’s congressional district.