When Barack Obama became president of the United States in 2008, his first foreign trip was to Cairo, Egypt where he proclaimed the wonders of Islam and its glorious history and religious tolerance, and related his own close personal heritage with Islam. He was there, he said, to start a new chapter between Islam and America.
But, alas, his olive branch to Islam has not been reciprocated. In fact, since his visit to the Middle East, the Islamic countries of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia have discarded their secular dictators in exchange for Islamic governments and jihadist militias.
According to Israeli pundits, Obama in his 2009 trip to Cairo reflected a worldview that focused on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the core issue causing the violence and turbulence in the entire Middle East. Obama felt that he needed closure to the Palestinian issue in order to forge a strong anti-Iran Arab coalition. “Israel was perceived as a secondary ally, at best, and a burden at worst.”
Furthermore, as part of his display of placation toward the Islamic world—in the belief that addressing this part of the world would be a catalyst for a process of democratization—he turned a cold shoulder to Israel.
So the purpose of this upcoming trip to Israel is seen optimistically by some—a reformed Obama, who this time is making his first foreign trip of his new term to Israel.
“The answer is simple,” says Israel’s media. “Obama decided to visit Israel to fix what he spoiled during his first term in office, primarily during the first half of his term. He recognizes his rookie mistakes, typical of someone with a disproportionate sense of self-confidence. Now as a more seasoned statesman, he has come to understand the world and has perhaps adopted a more humble approach.”
Israelis hope that “today he is well aware his policy was an utter failure; that his policy of appeasement radicalized Islamic and Arab fanaticism and its hate for the U.S. and the West. He knows that turning his back on Israel exacerbated Arab and Palestinian extremism.” (Israel Hayom, 2013)
Iran Tops the Agenda
Others think Obama is coming to again pressure Israel, but on another front—Iran.
According to Obama’s officials, Iran will be at the top of the list for discussion. Israel’s Army Radio reported that the president was coming to Israel in order to personally tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a clear manner not to order an independent Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
According to these officials, the urgency of the trip is because in Netanyahu’s speech to the United Nations in September, he had flagged the spring of 2013 as a significant time in the context of the Iranian nuclear threat.
And the latest news is Netanyahu has intel revealing that with new Iranian centrifuges, Iran is shortening by one-third the time it will take to make enough uranium for nuclear weapons. Besides, the West is now deeply concerned that Iran and North Korea are in cahoots as they develop not only nuclear weapons, but the missiles to fly them anywhere.
There is no doubt that D-Day is nearing. Even this week in our suburb of Tel Aviv, the authorities have twice checked out the sirens that would announce incoming destruction of some kind.