I've lost track of how many times I've been to Israel. It's over 20 I think, but I know why I keep coming back. I know how I felt when I came here 40 years ago this summer when I was all of 18.
The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness under Moses, but these past 40 years have not been years in the wilderness for the people of this tiny speck of real estate about the size of New Jersey. I have witnessed first hand the dry bones coming to life; I have watched the desolate and barren desert bloom with lush vegetation and tall trees. I have marveled to see a tiny besieged nation move from a struggling economy barely able to equip its soldiers with uniforms and weapons to being an economic engine of high tech innovation, a center of world class medical care, energy exploration, and educational excellence, and an oasis of free speech and free elections. With the exception of Jordan, dictators, terrorist tyrants, and the mad dogs of medieval and malicious mayhem surround this country.
While Israel has created a true and modern democracy and given its women the opportunity not only to vote, but to lead, the radical Islamic nations around it have sanctioned so-called honor killings of its wives and daughters, the wholesale slaughter of their own citizens who dared to speak up for freedom of thought, and the glorification of those deceived into believing that it is okay to strap a bomb on one's own baby and turn it into human bomb so that it can kill and maim other people's babies.
President Obama is finally going to come to Israel as president next month. I sure wish he would let me show him around. I've brought thousands of people here over the years to show them the Israel that I love and respect.
I kind of fear his tour is going to be coordinated by some of the same naive politicians who think that we need to lecture our ally Israel about expanding neighborhoods to build bedrooms for their children in land that God deeded to them long before Obama was born and ever heard of the Six Day War.
Instead, our president needs to come and express his solidarity with a nation that has never been our enemy but has stood with us against those who have trained, supported, financed and applauded the deranged religious fanatics who flew airplanes into the Twin Towers and Pentagon, who murdered 14 people in Fort Hood, and who shamelessly shot soldiers in Little Rock, and who planted IEDs on the roadside in Iraq and Afghanistan to kill those who wore our flag on their shoulders.
I've got a hard time convincing some Americans why it really does matter that we act like friends to our friends and that we stop believing our enemies are not really that different after all.
But Israel is the only nation in the Middle East who mirrors our core values of individual freedom and responsibility, of the equality of human beings, of the value of education and the power of dissent, even with one's own government, and the right of the people to change their government with ballots instead of with bullets and bombs.
The president could do the country and, in fact, the world a favor by withdrawing the nomination of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, a man that is so utterly and completely ignorant of the real enemy we face that he believes Iran can be trusted and Israel can't.
He would be better suited for taking tickets at Yellowstone than directing the strategic placement of our military assets to defend against threats.
I hope you will call and e-mail your senator. Urge him or her to use a little common sense and while acknowledging that the president has the privilege to name his team, he does not have the right to put people on his team who betray the trust of the American people and our friends in the real world.