“I know that in stepping foot on this land, I walk with you on the historic homeland of the Jewish people. More than 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people lived here, tended the land here, prayed to God here.”
-U.S. President Barack Obama, March 20, 2013
To honor this historic occasion, Israel has rolled out the red carpet, literally, for the American President. During his first visit to Israel as president, on his agenda is Iranian nuclear ambitions and Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations.
However it seems the emphasis will be on maintaining the status quo rather than effecting any significant changes or major steps in the peace process. According to Middle East adviser Aaron David Miller “This is not about accomplishing anything now. This is what I call a down payment trip”.
In fact, during an exclusive interview with Israel’s Channel 2 television broadcast, Obama says his trip to Israel and Ramallah is simply to “listen” to both sides and hear their views on how to move forward after over two years without peace talks.
Despite the lack of any hoped-for ‘Change’, with which Obama is synonymous, there are symbolic stops along his way. As part of his tour Obama will inspect an Iron Dome air defense system, along with the Dead Sea Scrolls, a testament to the Jewish connection to Israel. And on Friday, Obama will travel to Mount Herzl, where he will lay wreaths at the graves of assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism.
There is no denying the cultural, religious and political ties these two great countries share. Additionally Israel owes America a debt of gratitude both for financial as well as political support.
“America and Israel are somewhat different in size. In size — not in destiny. The American dream stems from the Bible. The Israeli spirit is inspired by American exceptionalism. We are separated by an ocean and united by the commitment to freedom, to justice. By the ongoing struggle for peace. We face the same dangers. We share the same hopes.”
– President Shimon Peres, March 20, 2013
By Noah Alhadeff