Rep. Paulsen Goes to Israel: Day One

This is a guest post by Representative Erik Paulsen (MN-03). He is in Israel this week with AIPAC and will be blogging regularly and exclusively for TC Jewfolk during his trip. Don’t miss a post: find the whole series here.
From the desk of Rep.Erik Paulsen (MN-03):
I’m excited to have arrived in Israel this afternoon. I will try and provide some updates and thoughts on my meetings periodically.
There’s lots happening here, as always. In fact, it was characterized to us on my bus ride to Jerusalem, these are not only interesting times (because they’re always interesting here), but these are also unusual times. Unusual because of the 8 months of the Arab Spring, which is seeing “the street” engaged in democratic decisions in these countries. A first for these countries that have been run by dictators.
Tonight I received a briefing on the Iron Dome System, which is Israel’s new mobile missile defense system begun after the 2006 Hezbollah rocket attacks from Lebanon that reigned 8,000 rockets into the civilian population.
The first tests were just this last April and the interceptions were 100 percent effective. So the Iron Dome development is complete and with the rocket attacks launched from Gaza just in the last few days, there will be a renewed emphasis on using it. However there are only two Iron Dome defense batteries so far because of the cost. They said it’s been a three year development with minimal red tape.
Just before my arrival there was domestic protests that began over objections to the high cost of cottage cheese and housing. I understand that up to 250,000 people were protesting at once. But after the terrorist attacks a few days ago, this has been more subdued because everyone is focused more intently on self-protection.
It’s pretty warm and sunny in the 90’s too, which I guess is typical. Hope to have some time to see a little of the Old City too, but tomorrow will be consumed with meetings starting early. I’m looking forward to helping ensure the U.S./Israeli relationship remains strong.
Erik Paulsen
Member of Congress
(Photo: Emmanuel Dyan)