Obama needs to charm skeptical Israelis in visit
JERUSALEM – Barack Obama’s vow to take his message straight to the public during his first presidential visit to Israel will be a tough sell with many Israelis who consider him naive, too soft on the nation’s enemies and cool to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Overcoming this perception will require a major charm offensive and an uncompromising U.S. pledge to stand behind Israel, especially when it comes to stopping Iran’s suspect nuclear program. Without a major initiative in his pocket for making peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the U.S. president will use his three-day visit, which begins on Wednesday, primarily as a means to convey a close alliance with Israel.
Rather than address Israeli leaders in parliament, as his predecessor George W. Bush did, Obama will deliver his main speech at a Jerusalem auditorium packed with university students.