What's McCain doing in Israel?

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.

"McCain does not invest all this time only to get a couple more thousands of votes"

Shmuel Rosner is a correspondent for the Israeli daily Haaretz. His blog.

By visiting, Israel McCain is sending a message to American voters that he is a statesman busy with serious things while his Democratic rivals are mere politicians. Moreover, I think that McCain believes that (as the Republican nominee) he stands a chance of getting a significant percentage of Jewish voters, and he is probably right in the event that Barack Obama becomes the Democratic nominee. He might not get as close to 40% as Reagan did - but get more than Bush did, some believe more than 30%. However, one has to remember: there aren't many Jews in America. McCain does not invest all this time only to get a couple more thousands of votes. He seems to think that being friendly to Israel is both justified and beneficial in the eyes of the majority of Americans - Jews and non-Jews.

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)."

"It doesn't hurt that one of his travel companions, Joseph Lieberman, is an Orthodox Jew."

New York blogger "Neo-Neocon". Her blog.

John McCain can afford to look Presidential. He's got the money, and he's got the time. And what better way to do so than a trip abroad and to the Middle East, highlighting his strong suits: security credentials and foreign policy experience.

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.

"I don’t want Israel to become the 51st state"

Joel Schalit, one of our Observers for Israel:

The Republican Party is exceedingly anxious about the political direction the American Jewish electorate is taking at this point. The community is growing increasingly liberal and it's showing in the polls. As the last congressional elections indicated, for a variety of reasons - overwhelming opposition to the war in Iraq, for example, and increasing concerns about the influence of the Christian right under Bush - the Democratic Party's largely secular and increasingly multicultural identity is proving to be exceedingly attractive to US Jews, who find a great deal of respect for their cultural distinctiveness and left-leaning politics. The Republicans are attempting to overcome this by doing things such as problematizing Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama's "Israel credentials" and sending their Presidential candidate, John McCain, on a campaign trip to Israel. Between this combination of efforts, it is hoped that the Republicans will help attract some of the Jewish voters it fears it's lost under the present administration, or at best, gain from the Democrats if it pushes the so-called 'Israel button' often enough. Personally, I'm tickled by the fact that McCain put Israel on his present itinerary, but I am concerned about how it might emphasize to some Israel's status as a so-called 51st state.

"McCain's remarks about Iran and its ambitions came only a day after he repeatedly argued that Iran is training al Qaeda in Iraq"

Daniel Koffler is the news and politics editor of "Jewcy":

John McCain's visit to Israel has to be understood in the context of his binary conception of foreign policy as a simple choice between war and not war, his crude reduction of every Islamic extremist group to a single enemy, and his sense of being perpetually involved in a sacrosanct struggle, whether with nefarious special interests in Washington or terrorists abroad. McCain is not like other Republican politicians, backing the most intransigent segments of Israeli society to the hilt merely in an effort to win votes. When McCain advocates the most belligerent conceivable policy on any foreign policy question, he really means it, and his ominous comments in Israel should not be waved away as an instance of political posturing by a presidential candidate.

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."

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US Election

If McCain loses the election , the world will become a planet on fire. we will be ruled by dictators of terrorist countries mark my word.



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