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GOP Israel Junket Features Nude, Drunken Swim in Sea of Galilee

kevin yoder

Rep. Kevin Yoder: wanna join me for a dip?

Any of you old enough to remember Wilbur Mills late night drunken dip in the Tidal Basin with Fanny Fox are gonna love this story.  Last summer, Eric Cantor boasted that he would bring the largest Congressional junket to Israel ever.  He did, bringing 80 House members.  Aipac funded each tour member to the tune of $10,000 each meaning they blew at least $800,000 on just the Congressmembers.  There were also spouses and children along, so the entire cost may’ve reached $1.5 million.  This is one of Aipac’s most critical investments because it brings into the pro-Israel fold some of the best Congressmembers money can buy.

But apparently Cantor didn’t vet the members for their behavior while under the influence.  When the delegation arrived at the Sea of Galilee it dined at a posh shorefront restaurant where members imbibed and the wine flowed freely.  At some point, the diners left the restaurant and took a dip in the sea.  A few swimmers removed the odd item of clothing but Rep. Kevin Yoder went all the way and completely disrobed.

Since almost all of those who joined this junket are good Christians, a number of them have tried to explain their behavior by saying their dip in the water was motivated by an attempt to commune with the spirit of Jesus who walked on these very waters.  It’s too bad Rep. Yoder appeared to have different motives and wasn’t quite as infused with the Holy Spirit.  Perhaps he thought Jesus walked on water “without a swimsuit” as Yoder has described his own actions:

“Part of the reason I made that decision at that moment was there was really nobody in the vicinity who could see me,” he said. “I dove in, hopped right back out, put my clothes on and, regardless, that was still not the behavior people expected out of their congressman.”

He said it was dark out with visibility limited to only a few feet, and said he was in the water for about 10 seconds before climbing out.

Apparently, Yoder was too drunk to realize that other people did indeed see him.  Either that or he wasn’t drunk and is lying.  If he was at a restaurant on the seashore it stands to reason the beach would have been lit which would’ve allowed people to see him.  So much for “visibility limited to a few feet.”

In fact, one wonders whether Yoder has a problem with drink.  He was pulled over by police and asked to take a Breathalyzer test and refused.  Why would a sober man refuse?  Why would a policeman even ask unless he thought he was drunk?  Why didn’t Cantor know about the weaknesses of members of his own caucus and warn them in advance to shape up?

Another member of the GOP “swim team” was Rep. Michael Grimm, who’s being investigated for sleazy fundraising practices which subjected the followers of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto practically to extortion under the direction of Israeli “fundraisers” Ofer Biton and Ronn Torosian.  Biton has just been indicted for his role in this scheme and for a related plot to extort money from the miracle rabbi.  While this caper won’t harm Grimm legally, it can’t do much to improve his already slimy reputation.

This incident became public because the FBI investigated a separate aspect of the trip.  Apparently, some participants pulled a bit of hanky-panky in how they accounted for their expenses, though we don’t yet know what that involved.

It would be unfortunate if Aipac came out of this smelling like a rose.  It certainly knew of the misbehavior.  One wonders what other sorts of behavior have occurred on Israel junkets and whether there has been creative accounting used on other trips.  The main point is that these trips and those who sponsor them and even those who participate in them are engaging in corrupt acts.  I don’t mean this legally since unfortunately these junkets aren’t illegal (though they should be).  I mean, rather, that the trips, the enormous amounts spent on them, the wining and dining, the influence peddling–all of it is corrupt.  It nourishes the dysfunction which characterizes the Congressional approach to Israel issues.

So the drunken swim is emblematic of a far greater problem: that Aipac can buy loyalty through the junkets and the open checkbooks of donors who fund their respective campaigns to the tune of tens or hundreds of thousands (depending on committee assignments) each.  The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Fred Plester August 21, 2012, 4:17 AM

    It’s called “Wild Swimming”.
    Although, when Dr Roberts did it au naturel, she chose a Tarn so remote that there probably was nobody but her BBC film crew to see her.

    I’ve a feeling, though, that a posse of drunken Congressmen would have exited that Cumbrian mountain water a lot more smartly than the sea of Galilee.

    PS: I once had an employer who engaged in “Wild Swimming”, before it was fashionable and had a name.
    He was supposed to interview prospective design engineers, and I had ’em all lined up outside his office door. Just to check that all was going to be well, I stuck my head in his office before showing the first one in.
    The Managing Director was at his desk alright, hair still wet, duck weed still stuck to his chest. “Should I put a shirt on for the interviews, do you think?”

  • almabu August 21, 2012, 4:20 AM

    Probably Jesus also had swum in this lake some times, instead of delivering his superb “look-how-I-walk-over-it” stunt?

    • Fred Plester August 21, 2012, 8:08 AM

      It would actually have been very disagreeable to swim in the sort of storm that was blowing at the time. And His Disciples wouldn’t have been able to see anything more than an occasional glimpse of a swimming head and arms through the waves: standing up and walking towards them was actually quite a sensible move, and might even, in the circumstances, have reassured them.

      I’ve been told that a storm force wind on a large lake, which is what Galilee amounts to, is a lot more frightening than the same wind on the open seas, because the lake’s surroundings set up turbulence which brings the fastest-moving air down to the surface, whereas out at sea it simply roars reasonably smoothly over the top of the mast.
      Mind you, that description came from the sort of person who enjoys that kind of adventure and I’m not sure I would.

      • Davey August 21, 2012, 8:53 PM

        No matter — the “commune with Jesus” excuse is the most obscene part of this whole sordid boondoggle. AIPAC certainly can buy congress because it certainly could not sell Israel and Zionism on its merits. This is the message for me.

  • fiddler August 21, 2012, 11:13 AM

    Well, I know it’s the silly season and all that, but really, what’s wrong with people, be they even Congressmen of the most exceptional nation on earth, swimming in a lake? People do it all the time. People even go skinny-dipping all the time when and wherever they’re comfortable with it. So what? The lame part is Rep. Yoder trying to apologise when there’s nothing to apologise for – “not the behavior people expected out of their congressman” reminds me a bit of Groucho’s remark about the club that would have him as a member. If parts of his electorate really think swimming in the buff was somehow inherently immoral or undignified, and are embarrassed by nothing more than reading in the paper about it, it would be incumbent upon him to set their heads straight. You know, “leadership”, that old-fashioned concept. Nothing to do with Christianity at all.

  • Simone August 21, 2012, 11:46 AM

    OMG! They went skinny dipping! It’s a wonder they weren’t struck by lightning as a sign of divine displeasure!

  • almabu August 21, 2012, 12:32 PM

    “…I’ve been told that a storm force wind on a large lake, which is what Galilee amounts to, is a lot more frightening than the same wind on the open seas, because the lake’s surroundings set up turbulence which brings the fastest-moving air down to the surface, whereas out at sea it simply roars reasonably smoothly over the top of the mast…”

    That’s absolutely correct, I agree with you on that! I’ve seen sea-experienced people in trouble on lake Constance, a 64km long lake belonging to Germany, Austria and Switzerland, at the northern pre-alpine area.

  • Piotr Berman August 21, 2012, 2:09 PM

    I think that swimming naked is a sensible approach if you forgot your bathing costume, as afterwards you have to dress and you do not want to drip water too much.

    Swimming drunk or after a big meal may be a case of bad judgment, but simply soaking in water while walking on the bottom is not risky.

    I guess that a skinny dip in the front of the restaurant in which there are members of opposite sex and children may be in bad taste.

  • Don August 22, 2012, 7:47 AM

    I have no problem with the idea of skinny-dipping. I DO have a problem with skinny-dipping while on a government-related, supposed fact-finding mission. Congressman Yoder should confine such activities to the isolated creeks of Virginia, and should not indulge in them when engaged in what is supposed to be serious work.

  • Eytane August 25, 2012, 12:37 AM

    Mr. Silverstein,

    You have just proven with this piece that you are just like all the other trash journalists. Do you really think that in our current world situation both economically and politically, you can indulge in this kind of trash/papparazi stuff.

    I can recommend 50 other strories you could write and would be more productive than this one.

    • Richard Silverstein August 25, 2012, 12:47 AM

      I don’t recall asking for any editorial assistance from you. But thanks for the suggestion. I’ll take it up with the publisher when he comes back from his all expense paid Aipac sponsored Israel junket.

    • Davey August 25, 2012, 1:02 AM

      Journalists don’t make the trash — trashy organizations and politicians do that on their own.

  • Phaerisee August 28, 2012, 7:44 AM

    People need to take a long look at what Mitt Romney really believes before they make their choice.


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