The real reason President Barack Obama is visiting Israel next month is to pray at the Church of Nativity and prove to Americans he really is a Christian, writes internationally syndicated journalist Ray Hanania, born in Chicago and a self-described Arab-American Palestinian Christian.
Hanania is a serious journalist, having been nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times as Pulitzer Prize candidate.
He also is a stand-up comedian.
But his theory, published on Sunday in the Saudi Gazette, makes just as much sense as all of the other “experts’” proclamations that Obama is coming to Israel to talk about attacking Iran, to convince Israel not to attack Iran, to talk about Syria, to promote relations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, to promote relations with the Palestinian Authority – or maybe to play golf.
The “I am a good Christian” theory does have some basis, perhaps more than all of the others. A reporter asked the State Dept. at the daily press briefing Friday, “If and when Secretary Kerry visits the West Bank and Israel and so on, will he make a visit to Bethlehem?” Such a visit would lay the groundwork for an appearance by the President.
State Dept. spokeswoman Olivia Nuland, unsurprisingly, was non-committal. “I think we’ve said about six times this week that when we have something to announce on trips, we will,” she answered.
Given the below zero chance that Obama’s visit, even it wins triumphant headlines of a Netanyahu-Abbas meeting, will have any long-lasting effect on the “peace process,” Hanania’s guess is as good as any others.
“Obama is a president who loves drama. After his first election, Obama made a dramatic visit to Cairo where he delivered a moving speech to the Islamic world that he titled ‘A New Beginning,'” he wrote.
“The excitement of the ‘Cairo Speech’ was welcomed by Muslims, but the light quickly faded as nothing seemed to be achieved in moving Middle East peace forward.”
Hanania insists that Israel is dead-set against any “compromise” with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who so far has said that there is nothing for the PA to compromise since it only is asking for its “rights,” such as sovereignty over the Muslim Western Wall, the Muslim Rachel’s Tomb, and over land that Jordan occupied after the War for Independence.
“Maybe Obama knows that no matter how hard he pushes, Israel just isn’t interested in real compromise with Palestinians,” according to Hanania.
Since “Palestinians can’t seem to leverage the justice of their cause against the ineffectiveness of their political leadership, maybe, the only reason Obama wants to visit Israel is to see the Holy Land sites, pray at the Church of the Nativity and convince Americans that he really is a ‘Christian after all.” Hanania concluded.
Is Obama really a Christian? Not enough for Hanania, who insists, “The ‘Christian thing’ to do would be to stand up for justice and push for Palestinian rights. In that respect, Obama may not be Christian enough.”