Why hasn’t President Obama visited Israel yet? Is his love of the Jewish state not deep enough? Does he not have a strong enough commitment to the unshakable relationship with America’s closest ally?
I guess no one need have worried over such troubling questions when the answer has long been obvious: Obama always intended to visit Israel when to do so would yield the maximum political profit, i.e. during the 2012 presidential campaign.
Of course his visit will be billed as part of his presidential rather than election campaign agenda, but have no doubt: it will be a campaign event.
James Cunningham, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Israel, said Tuesday that U.S. President Barack Obama intends on visiting Israel.
Cunningham mentioned that Israel is on Obama’s agenda during a farewell meeting with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, who thanked Cunningham for his service as the two discussed the current state of U.S.-Israel relations.
In their discussion, Rivlin told Cunningham that many Israelis feel the mood in the White House has changed for the worse. “[They worry] Israel has become a burden rather than a strategic asset to the United States,” Rivlin said.
The same theme appears in this report:
Every year, a few days before the Fourth of July, the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Herzliya Pituach opens its gate to thousands of guests in a celebration of American independence. The usual ritual – lots of American kitsch, a notable presence of the business, political and military elite, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut stands and sappy speeches by the prime minister and the president.
Over the past three years, despite the growing tensions between Washington and Jerusalem, the event held last Thursday did not rock the boat. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu played the role he was assigned. “When the American people celebrate their independence, the people in Israel celebrate with them, – because we know how blessed we are, how meaningful what happened on July 4, 1776 is for us,” he said. “Over the years we have had to defend ourselves again and again. Our freedom, our independence. This struggle was possible because of the U.S.’ support.”
Netanyahu kept congratulating and the audience kept cheering, yet beneath the surface it is clear that the relations between the U.S. and Israel are undergoing a crisis, and that both sides are re-examining those very relations. There is a reason that these days there is a cynical remark being uttered around Washington – “For the U.S., Israel has been turned lately from an asset to a pain in the ass-et.”