2nd bulldozer attack 224.
(photo credit: ZAKA)
Welcome to Israel, Senator Obama!
Although you haven't yet attained the White House, your hosts have still graciously prepared for you all the honors and activities usually received for visiting heads of state.
This includes: the obligatory visit to Yad Vashem, which will help you better understand why this country will not allow yet another nation that talks of wiping Jews off the face of the earth, the means to do so; top-level meetings with government officials, including the prime minister - the current one, not the one you will be greeting in the Oval Office if you win in November; the chance to pray at the Wailing Wall, and also, if you so wish, at al-Aksa mosque (just kidding!); and the couple of hours set aside allowing you to confer with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. (Word to the wise, though: If you pay your respects at the grave of Yasser Arafat, you can kiss Florida's electoral votes goodbye).
On top of all that, a special unexpected welcoming reception was arranged on Tuesday afternoon, by a young man of this city who seemed determined to deliver a message to you on the day of your arrival in Jerusalem.
Although subsequent investigation may prove different, there's good reason to believe Ghassan Abu Tir's bulldozer terror attack was deliberately staged as a greeting gift for you, Senator Obama.
He belongs to the same Jerusalem family clan as imprisoned Hamas official Muhammad Abu Tir, so he is likely to have had ties to radical Islamist elements. He was shot dead as he was driving his bulldozer up King David Street straight in the direction of the King David Hotel, which you were due to check into later in the day.
And the timing of the incident was logical, since such an attack would have been much harder to pull off after your arrival, when the heavier police presence on the street would have stopped Abu Tir's rampage even sooner than was the case.
What was the message, then, that Abu Tir was likely trying to deliver to you? Well, let's consider some of the few facts about him that we already know. His village of Umm Tuba is one of those fortunate Arab neighborhoods on the periphery of Jerusalem that is not cut off from the rest of the city by the security barrier. Thus it is one of the better-off Arab communities in the capital - just like Jebl Mukaber and Sur Bahir, the neighboring Arab villages that produced the perpetrators of the previous two terror attacks in Jerusalem, including the original bulldozer rampage just three weeks ago.
So keep in mind, Senator Obama, that the gainfully employed Abu Tir was probably not one of those Palestinians you spoke about earlier on your trip, whose motivation to carry out terror was primarily due to economic deprivation. Nor is he likely one of those who shared your dream to see a Palestinian state rise up alongside Israel.
His message to you was that some things are not negotiable, and some people do not really wish to be negotiated with, at least not on any terms but their own; that Israel's crime is not what it does or where its borders are, but its very existence; and that no matter which president sits in the White House, those basic - or, one might say, sacred - principles will remain unchanged.
Of course, Senator Obama, you already know all that, and Abu Tir has perhaps only done you a favor of sorts in giving you the opportunity to further demonstrate this understanding to the voters back home - especially those Jewish Democratic voters who care deeply about the security of Israel.
Yes, Senator Obama, we're well aware here that you're currently polling at about 60 percent of the American Jewish vote, some 20 points behind the percentage of this constituency that supported the previous three Democratic presidential candidates.
And while it's true that adding to that number would only constitute a small sliver of the overall vote, that might still make a difference in such crucial battleground states as Ohio - where your campaign just last week appointed a special Jewish-outreach coordinator - and Florida, whose popular Jewish congressman Robert Wexler is co-chair of your campaign there and has even been mentioned in recent weeks as a potential vice-presidential pick for you.
We know all that, but believe me, we're no less grateful you've decided to spend this day with us during this very, very busy time for you. After all, there was a time in American politics when the obligatory foreign campaign stops were the three "I"s - Israel, Italy and Ireland - and just imagine how the latter two must feel finding themselves not included on your subsequent European itinerary.
We know you've had your occasional difficulties with some in the Jewish community, and if chosen president you would also have differences with Israeli policy, just like all previous occupants of the White House. From the Israeli perspective, though, especially considering our own deep divisions, the details of your policies here and elsewhere in the region are of secondary importance.
The one thing that all Israelis can agree on is that whoever sits in the Oval Office must understand what a difficult and dangerous corner of the globe this nation finds itself in, one that would be so even if the Jewish State had never been founded.
Thus we need a US president wise enough to understand the need for diplomacy, yes - but equally so, one strong and courageous enough to utilize America's incomparable might when diplomacy fails.
In short, we need a president who won't be bulldozed by those who hold in contempt the values that both the US and Israel stand for. That, Senator Obama, is the message you can send back home from Jerusalem, on the day after the blood spilled by Ghassan Abu Tir practically on your doorstep ran down King David Street.