Naked Swimming or Naked Baksheesh– Which is More Shocking?

Skinny DippingThe news has been splashed that Representative Kevin Yoder, of more-moral-than-thou Kansas jumped, where Jesus walked, naked into the Sea of Galilee last summer.   I personally enjoy it when year old activities surface just in time for election-time decision making.  I hope it means that plenty of congress people — GOP above all– spend lots of insomniac hours reviewing past actions, not yet surfaced, and wondering: Is Tomorrow the Day?

Not only was he sans underwear, he and apparently the whole party of Republican, mostly freshman tear-down-the-house Tea Party freshmen, were partying.  Big time.  Alcohol probably contributed much to the event, though less to Yoder who still had the presence of mind to take off his clothes before taking the plunge, than others who took their clothes in with them.  Yuck!  Sodden clothes.  Did their shoes go in too, or were their feet naked — a thrilling thought for fetishists.

Yoder’s wife was with the junketeers.  Did she witness?  Did she scream Stop! Did she jump

While apparently not considered a sacrilege by Christians, what is way more troubling to me, and I hope to others, is that 30 congress people and associates were given a free ride to Israel, free lodging, free diners, free drinks by the AIPAC associated American Israel Education Foundation.

the trips are known for providing lawmakers with stays in top-tier hotels like the King David in Jerusalem as well as private tours of Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, the Yad Vashem museum commemorating the Holocaust and other important historical and religious sites.

 But, as they saying goes: there is no free lunch.  AIPAC and its major donor, casino Sheldon Adelson, are not sending these reps and spouses on a serious pros and cons fact-finding mission.  They did not, I’ll bet my swimming trunks, visit Peace Now, or the Adalah Legal Center, though they may have visited West Bank settler representatives.  No, AIPAC will want something back from its pupils.  In the Middle East the term baksheesh covers a multitude of sins, from tipping the traffic cop to jumping the line at a licensing bureau.  It might even mean just plain “tip.”  Mostly, however,that’s  it is “a bribe or tip paid to speed up services. [wicktionary] Sounds to me like that’s what is going on here:  nice trip, nice tip.  We take care of you, you take care of me. As one Israeli lobbyist called it: “The Jewish Disneyland trip.”

One of the most famous travel boondoggles — a golf trip to Scotland for members of Congress and staff members, hosted by the lobbyist Jack Abramoff — led Congress in 2007 to tighten restrictions on who could sponsor trips and for how long. But despite the new restrictions, the number of Congressional trips paid for by outside groups has actually increased since 2007, to more than 1,600 from about 1,300, according to Legistorm, a research group that tracks Congressional data. To comply with the new restrictions, many political and lobbying groups have turned to nonprofit groups they set up and finance to host the Congressional trips.

Since 2000, the American Israel Education Foundation has been more prolific than any other in sponsoring overseas trips for members of Congress and their staffs, organizing 733 trips for both Republicans and Democrats at a cost of more than $7 million. Last year, it spent $2 million to sponsor 146 trips, far outpacing a Turkish coalition that ranked second, sponsoring 32 trips.

Last summer, there were so many members of Congress traveling — about 80 — that the education fund sponsored two separate trips.


Not even the Israeli official who met with the Republicans was shocked.  He says he, himself  has done the cleansing deed.[go to end] So lets stop the teeth gnashing over the sporting life, and work to make sure the naked baksheesh between Republicans (and Democrats for that matter) and Israelis-with-Agendas is stopped.