One of the goals of Obama’s visit seems clearly to involve correcting the parts of his 2009 Cairo speech that made many Israelis unhappy. He was criticized at the time for insinuating that Israel existed because of the Holocaust, playing into a widespread belief in the Arab world that Israel is a foreign implant in the Middle East and that the Palestinians paid the price for the crimes of Europe.
The Jewish presence in the land of Israel dates back around 3,000 years, modern Zionism predates the Holocaust by nearly a century, and there was a Jewish state-in-waiting largely in place here before WWII began.
Upon his arrival at the airport on Wednesday, Obama was quick to mention “3,000 years” of Jewish history, setting the tone for a trip that has been a whirlwind of charm directed at the Israeli public and its leaders. He repeated the point in comments at Yad Vashem on Friday.
“The state of Israel does not exist because of the Holocaust,” Obama said, “but with the survival of a strong Jewish state of Israel, such a Holocaust will never happen again.”