US President Barack Obama appears to be warming up to Israel ahead of his visit later this week. And while many of Obama's scheduled stops during his 48-hour visit wouldn't seem to suggest a particularly pro-Israel slant, the opposite is actually true if one only reads between the lines.
Obama's biggest stop outside of meetings with government leaders will be at the Shrine of the Book and the adjacent Israel Museum. Seems like a very tourist-y thing to do, but, as Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren explained, it's actually meant to send a clear message of American support for the Jews' ancient ties to this land.
"The ancient Dead Sea Scrolls [that are housed at the Shrine of the Book were] written more than 2,000 years ago by Jews in Hebrew in their homeland, the land of Israel," Oren said on Israel's Channel 2 News on Saturday. Obama's visiting this attraction "sends a message to the world about the Jewish state’s deep roots in this region."
Oren continued: "This is not a country that fell from the sky after the Holocaust, this is a state that is truly rooted in the region, and is a permanent and legitimate," and Obama's visit is going to emphasize that point.
Keeping with that theme, Obama is scheduled to also visit the national cemetery at Mount Herzl, where he will lay a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism.
This is a "significant endorsement of the Zionist idea," said Oren.