For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
Obama needs a victory. Somewhere. After losing congress and returning from another useless international trip, that victory has to come from somewhere. Outmaneuvered on the home front, he desperately needs to regain his stature and upstage the new Republican congress with a major achievement. And it's clear now to even his dimmest media supporters that such an achievement won't come from another international tour.
His political status as the occupant of the White House, and his own personal celebrity, mean that he can hop on Air Force One and get a reception in most countries. But having cocktail parties thrown in your honor and actually being listened to are two different things. Internationally Obama has become a "party guest", whose attendance brings status and media attention, but who isn't to be taken seriously.
Cracking both the new congress and the world community is hard with no leverage. Most presidents have understood that their leverage came from representing American interests. But Obama has acted as if his charisma and genius would automatically make everyone listen to what he had to say. And it hasn't worked out that way. His personal qualities have made him into an international globetrotting party guest, not a world leader. And now that he needs to be a world leader, to impress congress, the public and the world community-- he's going about it in the same old-fashioned way. By going after the one country he still has leverage over.
Creating a Palestinian state is unworkable in practice, but politically necessary. Which is why numerous presidents, prime ministers and world leaders have thrown themselves into the task. The Muslim world has cynically stymied every call for reform or a crackdown on terrorism, with the claim that the real problem in the region is Israel. Unfortunately few American diplomats have been able to see through that puppet theater. And even more unfortunately, few have wanted to see through it.
Halfway into his term, Obama has discovered that his background in a Muslim country and his antipathy to America, haven't led to any diplomatic accomplishments on the ground. Afghanistan and Pakistan are sliding. The Saudis are pulling the strings. Iran has no interest in being reasonable. And nothing he does make any difference. But the message from the Muslim world is that everything will turn out right, if only he puts the boot down on that one tiny little non-Muslim country in the midst of that great desert of Islam.
Israel has been the obvious whipping boy for a succession of presidents looking to score a victory in the face of domestic unpopularity and no international achievements to their name. Behind it all is the shiny brass ring that the Muslim world keeps dangling in front of the west. The ring that promises an end to Muslim terror. No more instability in the region. A reliable flow of oil. Global harmony between the Western world and the Dar Al Islam. The ring is an illusion, but the need for it is real.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"