Melissa Weininger: Why President Obama Should Not Visit the Western Wall

Roundup: Historians' Take
tags: Israel, Melissa Weininger, Western Wall, Wailing Wall, Jewish studies

Melissa Weininger is a scholar of modern Jewish Studies. She received her Ph.D. in 2010, and has taught at The University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Rice University.

Last week the New York Times and the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that President Obama will not go to the Western Wall when he visits Israel next week.

An official who spoke to the Times framed this lacuna in the president’s itinerary as a security issue, explaining that the difficulty of protecting the president near the site was too great. And other presidents, including Bill Clinton in 1996, have not visited the Wall either. In general there has been little response, positive or negative, to the news that the president would not go to the Wall. But Americans and Israelis concerned with civil rights in Israel should be applauding the news, because there are many good reasons why President Obama should not visit the Western Wall.

The New York Times quoted Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren as saying, “Everything on the Seder table—from the lamb shank to the parsley to the egg—is rife with symbolism. So, too, with every item on the president’s itinerary.”...

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