Maybe everyone is just hanging crepe, but expectations for Obama's visit to Israel beginning on Wednesday are in the basement.Haaretz 10:14 P.M."According to a Dialog poll conducted among 473 Israelis ahead of the American president's visit this week, 60 percent of Israelis said they do not believe Obama's visit will help jumpstart negotiations with the Palestinians; 27 percent said they believe it would help, while 14 percent said they don't know."Spiegel Online "United States President Barack Obama's first visit as president to the Holy Land this week may be generating a lot of excitement, but the expectations that something will change in the muddled status quo between the Israelis and the Palestinians couldn't be slimmer."New York Times "Though Israeli and American leaders of various political stripes insist that security, economic and intelligence cooperation between the two nations has never been closer or stronger, the personal, more emotional element of the relationship has been largely empty over the last four years."The well-documented tensions between Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tell only part of the story: even Israelis who are harsh critics of their own leader felt snubbed when the American president skipped their homeland during his 2009 trip to the Middle East."Do no expectations mean no bad news?UPDATE: PM Netanyahu welcomes President Obama: "Thank you for unequivocally affirming Israels sovereign right to defend itself by itself against any threat. Thank you for enhancing Israels ability to exercise that right through generous military assistance, revolutionary missile defense programs, and unprecedented security and intelligence cooperation." Whole thing at Ha'aretz.Dare we add... And thank you for not bringing up the issue of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.UPDATEII: The comments at the New York Times's arrival story are interesting and varied. Worth a look.
Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.