Tuesday, August 9, 2011

NY Congressman Michael Grimm joining 20% of Congress visit to Israel

A press release from the Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn Congressman, the Co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus and the Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee’s Task Force on Foreign Policy,who is extremely hawkish on Israel foreign policy matters, and has visited Jonathan Pollard in prison.

Next week, Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R,C-Staten Island/Brooklyn) will travel to Israel on a week-long congressional trip to gain firsthand understanding of some of America’s most pressing foreign policy challenges. The purpose of the trip is to learn more about the U.S.-Israel relationship, the peace process, Israel’s security situation, and important political and economic trends in the region.
“Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East, with whom a strong partnership is essential to the security of the region and the United States,It is one of the most experienced countries in regards to counter-terrorism, defense, and law enforcement, as well as a thriving democracy that shares the same values that define the American way of life. I eagerly look forward to this opportunity to share experiences and learn from the Israelis as part of an ongoing effort to strengthen our relationship.”
81 members — 55 Republicans and 26 Democrats — will take the trip to the Jewish state, That breaks down to about 20 percent of the House who will spend a week of their August break in Israel.

The first group of visitors, made up of the 26 Democrats and headed by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), is set to arrive Monday. Two Republican delegations will follow, with one of the groups being led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

There are 47 freshmen members scheduled to take the week-long trips, the Jerusalem Post said, and for many it will be their first time in Israel.

The itinerary includes meetings with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials, military and religious leaders, peace negotiators, and defense experts. Members of Congress will explore opportunities for bilateral economic and technological cooperation with the Israeli business community. They will also visit various religious and cultural sites.

The trip is being arranged by the American Israel Educational Foundation (AIEF), a charity affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIEF Israel seminars are considered among the most substantive, rigorous, and valuable opportunities for members of Congress to learn about the U.S.-Israel relationship. No tax dollars will be used to pay for the trip, as it is paid for by AIEF, which is privately funded by donations from American citizens. AEIF is hosting three week-long congressional trips in August, bringing a total of 84 House members to Israel this month.

The congressman will be posting real-time updates throughout the trip on Facebook (Rep. Michael Grimm) and Twitter (@repmichaelgrimm).