Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the second-ranked Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, is leading fellow Democrats on a tour of Israel funded by AIPAC’s educational affiliate.
Two freshmen, Reps. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) announced they were joining this week’s tour, which will include meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as well as tours of U.S.-funded defense systems, including the short range Iron Dome anti-missile program.
Such tours, funded by the American Israel Education Foundation, the educational affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, routinely take place during the August recess every off-election year, and Hoyer, the minority whip, has led a number of them. They are designed to introduce freshmen to Israel-related issues.
An AIPAC official confirmed that 37 Democrats altogether will be going, although not all of them are freshmen.
The Democratic tour, which lasts about a week, usually is followed up by a similar tour for Republican freshmen, led in recent years by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader and the highest ranked Jewish member of Congress.
Frankel’s release said such a GOP tour was in the works; a JTA question to Cantor’s office, posed over the weekend, was pending.