President Barack Obama is about to leave on his first Presidential foray to the Middle East. He will be taking his world-wide apology tour to Jordan, Egypt (where he will make a speech to the “Muslim World”), and finally Saudi Arabia the country that gave us most of the people responsible for 9/11. Anybody figure out what is missing?
That’s right, while Airforce One may be flying over Israel on its way to Egypt, it won’t be landing there. As he travel’s to Egypt for his apology to the Muslim world, President Obama is trying to show the Islamic world that the “special relationship” between the United States and Israel is no more. While the President hasn’t said as much, actions do speak louder than words:
ISRAEL: BAM VOYAGE’S ‘MISSING LEG’
By BENNY AVNI
Obama’s purpose is to make nice to Muslims, a goal that even Israeli right-wingers appreciate. But as he plans a major speech to Arabs and Muslims from Cairo and a hop over to Saudi Arabia, the Israelis are asking: “Hey, what about us?”
Israeli officials aren’t yet saying they see a symbolic snub — they prefer to talk about the nascent relations between Washington and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But many Israelis and their US supporters are wondering if Obama will fall into a trap set by those in Washington who think the close ties between America and the Jewish state are the main impediment to improving relations with Arabs and Muslims.
Obama’s confrontational demand for a total Israeli freeze on settlement-building should be seen in that context.
Is the object of the demand to find a solution that both Israelis and Palestinians can live with and build on? If so, previous Israeli, Palestinian and US administrations developed formulas that address the concerns of all sides.
However, if Obama simply wants to prove to Arabs and Muslims that he’s willing to pressure Netanyahu — that he is on “their side” — Israelis and their supporters should worry.
They’ll listen carefully to his Cairo and Riyadh speeches. Most are willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt that he is genuinely attempting to negotiate his way through the Middle East thicket. If that’s the case, skipping Jerusalem on his first regional trip will quickly be forgotten.
But if Obama is planning a sustained public display of confrontation with Israel, this week’s tour will long be remembered as the first real sign that an American president turned away from a worthy tradition begun when President Truman embraced the newly born Israeli state.