US President Barack Obama’s much-heralded visit to Jerusalem is still a month away, but preparations for “Operation Unbreakable Alliance” are already in full swing. Obama is expected to arrive on March 20. Secret service agents have reportedly already checked out the King David Hotel, which will be completely taken over by Obama’s entourage. Guests who had reservations for pre-Passover festivities in the King David, traditionally a busy time for tourists in Jerusalem, have already been moved to other hotels.
Also celebrating Obama’s arrival is the Jerusalem Ice City, which has decided to create an ice sculpture of the American president in addition to the dinosaurs and fairy tale scenes already planned for this year’s Ice Festival.
Hundreds of American and foreign journalists are expected to descend on the capital to report on Obama’s three-day visit, and Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat wants to take full advantage of their presence. The mayor spearheaded an initiative called “The Jerusalem You Don’t Know” with special tours for foreign journalists to bring them to the city’s highlights: historical and archaeological sites, culinary tours through the Mahaneh Yehuda shuk, a panorama view of the Old City from the Sherover promenade, and exclusive entrance into the new Herod exhibit at the Israel Museum and the Ice City.
The mayor is also emphasizing Jerusalem’s “crazy night life,” according to a municipality spokeswoman, with nightlife tours visiting Jerusalem’s downtown pubs and the small bars tucked into stalls in the Mahaneh Yehuda shuk.