John McCain arrived in Israel on Tuesday as part of a trip to the Middle East. Is the White House hopeful really interested in helping with a peace process in the region as he says, or just looking to please the pro-Israeli electorate in the US? Our Observers pose the question.
Amongst other talked-about statements during his visit to the country, McCain on Tuesday pronounced Jerusalem as the "capital of Israel". Although he urged the speeding-up of a regional peace process, he also gave his support to Israel's tough policy in response to Hamas's offensive, saying that "no nation in the world can be attacked incessantly ... without responding". While the Republican candidate did not visit the Palestinian territories, he did phone President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss negotiations.
Material compiled by our Observer for Israel, Roi Ben-Yehuda.
Shmuel Rosner is a correspondent for the Israeli daily Haaretz. His blog.
Regarding McCain's position on Jerusalem as Israel's capital, presidential candidates tend to promise a lot in regard to Jerusalem and don't always practice what they promise. Hillary Clinton promised to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. Will she do it? Who knows? Her husband made the same promise but never carried it out. McCain apparently believes that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital will not interfere with the peace process. One can imagine more than one way to achieve such a goal (for example, to recognize it as capital of Israel and the Palestinians)."
New York blogger "Neo-Neocon". Her blog.
McCain's position on Israel and Palestine is no surprise. He pays at least lip service to the "peace process" that's so popular and yet so problematic. At the same time he shows his strong and sincere support for Israel by acknowledging its claim to Jerusalem as the capital of the nation. It doesn't hurt that one of his travel companions, Senator Joseph Lieberman, is an Orthodox Jew.
McCain is also interested in differentiating himself from possible future opponent Obama, who may be vulnerable to losing the Jewish vote in the general election due to his relationship with his spiritual mentor Jeremiah Wright, whose very controversial anti-Israel remarks have lately been plastered all over You Tube.
Joel Schalit, one of our Observers for Israel:
Daniel Koffler is the news and politics editor of "Jewcy":
For example, McCain's averred that, "At the end of the day, we can still not afford to have Iran with nuclear weapons...We know they have ambitions that are not just aimed at the State of Israel." In and of itself, this is unobjectionable, and indeed, more sensible than Hillary Clinton adviser Ann Lewis's strange suggestion that "The role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel." But McCain's remarks about Iran and its ambitions came only a day after he repeatedly argued that Iran is training al Qaeda in Iraq. If he doesn't grasp the distinction between al Qaeda and Iran - and indeed, the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites - then his policies towards either side could well be influenced by beliefs about the other. And that's a scary prospect. Not just for Americans, as McCain might put it, but Israelis as well. An American president who adopts policies likely to embroil Israel in an actual struggle for survival, of the sort (pace McCain) it does not currently face, is a false friend to Israel."