INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Just last week, two members of Congress from Indiana, freshmen Luke Messer and Susan Brooks, were in Israel on a trip designed to help them understand the politics of that region.
With the unrest in Egypt, it's a trip that has already taken on new importance, especially for Messer (R-6th District,) who serves on the Foreign Affairs committee.
With the Egyptian military cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood, with daily riots and demonstrations and a thousand recent casualties, Congressman Messer worries that the Obama Administration policy on Egypt is unclear.
"I think that we need to be careful," he says, "that we don't inadvertently send the message that we support the Muslim Brotherhood more than we support democracy in the region."
Just a week ago, Messer met with Israeli President Shimon Peres along with Susan Brooks and they came away with optimism.
In an interview conducted in Jerusalem, Brooks said, "There is hope here for peace. There is hope here, they want the generation, the young people in particular and future generations, to live in peace."
Messer also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who, he said, was more concerned about instability in Iran and Syria than in Egypt. His comments at the time echoed those of Brooks.
"There is hope that peace can happen in this region of the world," he said.
Now the optimism has become concern and Messer supports a continuation of American military aid to Egypt as the Administration considers suspending it.
"I think it's important to send the message that the violence must stop," he says, "and the democratic processes should continue. I would support continuing the aid conditioned on those requirements rather than cutting the aid right now."
The trip to Israel by Brooks and Messer is far from unusual. More than two-thirds of the 67 freshmen in Congress have already traveled there. It's testimony to the importance of our interests in that part of the world.
Taxpayers, by the way, did not pay for the trip. The American Israel Education Foundation did.
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