Why is Obama Going to Israel?

Obama does like to take trips to other countries to make it seem like he’s involved in foreign affairs and for the family vacations, but though Israel has lots of seaside hotels and some nice beaches, that’s probably not the reason here.

In Term 1, Obama kept Israel at arm’s length as part of his policy for showing the Muslim world that the United States wasn’t really that close to the Jewish State. Staying away from Israel and snubbing Israel’s Prime Minister were part of the program and the Hagel and Brennan nominations suggest that the problem is still on.

Why then is Obama undoing all his bad work by paying a visit to Israel?

1. Relevance through international travel is one factor. Pundits have been screaming at him to do something about the conflict and visiting Israel will make him look like he’s finally tackling a major international issue.

2. There are few other places in the region he can go.

Relations between the United States and Turkey have been deteriorating over Obama’s failure to arm the Syrian rebels and get Turkey into the European Union. But Istanbul is probably one of the few places that Obama can still visit.

Cairo and Tunis would have been safe bets a year ago, but now they’re political minefields. Visiting them means endorsing controversial Islamist regimes that are murdering and mutilating protesters. Obama may support their Islamist governments, but the optics are bad. And his visit is sure to touch off even bigger protests, including protests that the authorities may not be able to adequately protect him from. If the Egyptian authorities weren’t able to keep Ahmadinejad from getting shoed twice, then a sneaker or a loafer may find its way to Obama’s face as well. And the media would have trouble covering that one up.

That leaves the dictatorships he initially condemned. A visit to Saudi Arabia or Kuwait would just highlight the failures of the Arab Spring and the continuing support of the United States for tyranny over democracy… etc.

Even if Obama does make quick controlled visits to Cairo or Tunis or any other Arab Spring country, or longer ones to Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, going to Israel will lessen the optics problem by providing him with political cover and make it harder to read political messages into the trip.

Obama’s support for the Arab Spring has isolated the United States and slashed the number of reliable American allies in the region. He may not like Israel much, but he has fewer options in the region than he did before his Cairo speech. And the visit may be obligatory.

3. There’s really only one thing that American leaders have wanted from Israel for some time. And that’s a final settlement with the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas has made it clear that he won’t negotiate with Israel without a long list of pre-conditions. Any visit means pressure on Israel to “return to the negotiations” even if the negotiating table doesn’t exist. Still if Obama really wanted to exert that kind of pressure, he would likely have summoned Abbas and Netanyahu to some sort of retreat in the US for enforced negotiations.

If Obama is visiting to push for a final settlement, then it’s entirely possible that he is bringing his own peace plan with him. That would seem to be unlikely, especially with a fresh Secretary of State just on the job, but if he’s toting along a plan then it almost certainly came from the Center for American Progress or some other leftie think-tank with stops along the way in Saudi Arabia.

Foreign policy hands on the left have long wanted to revive the Saudi plan. A visit to Israel would allow Obama to pitch it to the Israeli public and his ego might just be big enough to think that a Knesset speech and a high profile media rollout would do the trick.

4. Iran. Again this would be less about directly browbeating Netanyahu and more about using the Israel trip as a forum for assuring Israelis that he has the Iran policy well in hand and that an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program would be unwise and dangerous.

A visit to Israel would give him direct access to Israel’s political and media elites. It would give him a great deal of face time on the news and a public forum for selling the snake oil of containment (all options are on the table, especially the option of doing nothing) to Israel’s politicians and public.

This is also the sort of plan that would appeal to the Commander of the Permanent Campaign taking his show on the road to another country.

It’s hard to know whether Obama is making a serious working visit or another casual stop on his world tour. And yet the former seems more likely than the latter because the trip reverses his earlier policy of keeping Israel at arm’s length. If Obama is going to Israel, then it’s likely that he wants something.

Alternatively, Obama is using the visit to Israel as a reminder to some of his more obstinate Muslim allies in Cairo and Istanbul that the United States does have other options and that if they fail to behave, he can always reorient American foreign policy back in Israel’s direction.

  • Graemeww

    I believe or discern that Obama wants Iran to have the bomb and use it take out Israel, and get back at a few American cities.

    • EarlyBird

      I believe and discern that you are insane.

  • Indioviejo

    Obama hates Israel. He knows that Iran is closer than ever in getting a nuclear bomb, so he will lie to the Israeli people that he will defend them, and he will threaten reprisals if the Israelis go at it alone. His bottom line is that he will leave a nuclear Iran in place.

    • EarlyBird

      Israel can't "go it alone," or they would have already. They need American logistical support and bunker busters.

      But just airstrikes alone won't destroy the Iranian nuclear weapons program. It would take another invasion and occupation by the United States, ala' Iraq, because we just can't locate the different nuclear sites with sattelites.

      Netanyahu hates Obama because Obama is a realist who puts America first, not like Bush and other would-be neocons and lap dogs of Israel. Same with Hagel, hence the Israel First Lobby's torture of the man.

      • Indio Viejo

        Just because you drink the Kool-aid you think everybody should see the light. Well comrade Obama has not only told the world were he stands on the 'Palestine' issue in his first days in office, but he reiterated it in his Cairo speech and in his "Arab Spring" interventions which are blowing up in America's face. He is the kind of realist that the Muslim Brotherhood loves. You are entitled to your opinion but it has the same validity as a spit ball.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    Why is Obama going to Israel? A good question. Compelling too. Here is what is really going on – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/02/07/the-convergen

    Couldn't be any more dangerous – for Israel!

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel – http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

    • EarlyBird

      So much fear all the time! Eek!

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

    I looked at that photo above and tried to imagine what Bibi was thinking…
    "If he pulled back a bloody stump would the secret service get upset?"

    • JacksonPearson

      Benny was a paratrooper, and trained to take punks like Obama out.

  • guest

    For some reason I am reminded of a passage…

    "When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation' stand in the holy place–let the reader understand–then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."

    • A 23 Year Old Man

      Oh, Obama is just a shadow of things to come.

  • Smote

    I hope Obama gets whacked on his cosy little jaunt to Israel. Big time! I know this is unpleasant. The USA is headed by a criminal. Obama needs to be deposed. Sorry, he has to be. There is no other way.

    Whack him and then send his carcass to Saudi Arabia.

    • EarlyBird

      What a hideous little rat you are. I hope you get whacked, and your whole family, tonight.

    • David, Thailand

      It is not the America-hating, white-hating, civilisation-hating, Jew-hating Socialist Hussein Obama you should fear, but those that helped put him in Office.

  • JacksonPearson

    He's going to Israel for another photo-op of him poking Bibi again. /**Sarkmark

  • bowingkohin

    Maybe to get some "real" effort started to try to save the decent human lives on both sides of the conflicts and get some long-awaited news/photos on the icon of the war hawks, Ariel Sharron

  • Ar'nun

    According to whitehouse.gov he isn't visiting Israel, he is visiting Palestine.

    • A 23 Year Old Man

      Could you link that? I didn't find anything.

  • BLJ

    It would be great if Israel would refuse to let his plane land. Obama should fly to Egypt instead to hang with his MB buddies. Bibi could whip the Chosen One with both hands tied behind his back.

    • EarlyBird

      But that would be biting the hands that feed the Israelis, moron. The US has given more than $3 billion dollars a year to Israel since '79. We have also given nearly the same to pay off Egypt to keep it from attacking Israel.

      What do we get? An Israel First lobby that pushes around American foreign policy, and general interference. The Israeli tail is wagging the US tail.

      • BLJ

        Kiss my rear pinhead.

  • Ziggy Zoggy

    Adina Kutnicki is 100% correct.

    Obama is worried that Israel will "interfere" with the power structure that he's helped to create for the mullahs and brotherhood. (Amadjihad and morsi are just proxies.)

    Everything Obama says or does is self serving.

  • Joel

    Husseinypoop is worried Israel won't passively participate in a holocaust in which Iran nukes Israel in the coming days, weeks, months. This is extremely upsetting to poor exhausted from too many vacations Husseinypoop. He is going to Israel to tell this to Bibi in person including how all these vacations are stressing him out and to tell Israel to drop dead for the sake of world peace and economic order. Yes, for Husseinypoop, it is always the Joooz. I say send Husseinypoop to Iran with a one way ticket courtesy of the US taxpayer — what's a few dollars here or there guys. Thereafter let him hitchike on back to Kenya or Pakistan or wherever and not bother us anymore.

  • wjhon


  • Empress_Trudy

    Obama will find some last minute cooked out outrage to 'prevent' him from going. He's not going. He'll Kerry early and planned and Kerry will come away irritated and angry that Jews still live in Israel. Anyway Obama can't suddenly recognize the Jewish state not when he's got to line up all his Mideast post Presidential business arrangements.

  • GratefulAl

    Maybe BHO will just visit the Dome on the Mount, then jet off to Mecca and be done with the whole charade?