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Marco Rubio Visits Israel Ahead of Kerry and Obama

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) arrived in Israel yesterday for the start of a week-long visit to the region. He’s scheduled to meet with PM Bibi Netanyahu, President of Israel Shimon Peres, and Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad, and then to hop next door to Jordan to visit King Abdullah. Newly minted Secretary of State John Kerry will be visiting shortly thereafter, and Obama will be here in March.

Rubio’s visit is ostensibly a function of his position as a member of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees, but the visit is generating predictable snark (“A visit to the Holy Land is a hallowed tradition among presidential contenders, and nearly as important as the height-hair-optimism trifecta,” as New York Magazine‘s Andre Tartar puts it). Snark notwithstanding, the basic premise is true: a Jerusalem photo op is practically a sine qua non for a presidential aspirant. 

So let’s do the thought experiment. I’m encouraged by Rubio’s unequivocal stance on Iran and willingness to filibuster Hagel’s nomination in part as a means to pressure Obama into some answers on Benghazi, but I’d like to hear more from him. Does he have the slightest idea what’s happening in Syria, for example, and the effect the assorted possible outcomes might have on the rest of the region and on the US? Does he have an opinion on arming or not arming the rebels? American foreign policy under Obama has been notable for its consummate, almost magisterial ignorance of local realpolitik (a weakness about which one is hardly reassured by the appointment of John Kerry). Frankly, a lot of us would be impressed if Rubio can tell the difference between Ramallah and Gaza City. This is a real opportunity for him. 

Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a little nervous about high-profile media events following his recent shellacking. I do hope that while he’s here, though, he moves beyond boilerplate and gives us some sense of the depth of his knowledge and the extent of his personal interest in this part of the world.

  1. Israel P.

    Better he should be here to learn, not to show us what he knows.

    At least he has enough sense that we needn’t worry about this kind of thing:

    On the trip, Mrs. Clinton was photographed kissing the wife of Yasir Arafat, after Mrs. Arafat, speaking in Arabic, accused the Israeli government of employing toxic gas against Palestinian women and children.

  2. LKSkinner
    Israel P.: Better he should be here to learn, not to show us what he knows.

    At least he has enough sense that we needn’t worry about this kind of thing:

    On the trip, Mrs. Clinton was photographed kissing the wife of Yasir Arafat, after Mrs. Arafat, speaking in Arabic, accused the Israeli government of employing toxic gas against Palestinian women and children.

    12 minutes ago

    I also hope he’s here to really learn, not just to be led around and fed the usual canned blah-blah. I guess we’ll see how many preconceived notions he has during the next few days of his visit.

    Any chance he’ll stop by Hebrew University – Mt Scopus? It would be nice to meet him in person.

  3. Eric Jablow

    The old New York rule is to visit at least two of the three Is: Ireland, Israel, and Italy.

  4. Percival
    Judith Levy, Ed.

    Does he have the slightest idea what’s happening in Syria, for example, and the effect the assorted possible outcomes might have on the rest of the region and on the US? Does he have an opinion on arming or not arming the rebels?

    Does anybody have the slightest idea what’s happening in Syria?

    From an article in the London Review of Books:

    ‘Why are the Americans doing this to us? They told us they wouldn’t send us weapons until we united. So we united in Doha. Now what’s their excuse? They say it’s because of the jihadis but it’s the jihadis who are gaining ground. Abu Abdullah is $400,000 in debt and no one is sending him money anymore. It’s all going to the jihadis. They have just bought a former military camp from a battalion that was fighting the government. They went to them, gave them I don’t know how many millions and bought the camp. Maybe we should all become jihadis. Maybe then we’ll get money and support.’

    I don’t know the answer.  I’m not sure there is an answer.

  5. HVTs

    C’mon, Judith … the really important question (just ask Rachel MadCow, who “played the [Rubio water swig] moment on loop at the bottom of the screen for more than 13 minutes”) . . . the question all visitors to distant lands want to know . . . can he drink the water?

    Seriously, having just read Bombing the Syrian Reactor: The Untold Story I’m beginning to wonder if it matters which party is in power in the US. The cluelessness of successive US administrations concerning Israeli security and Mid-east peace is just astounding. What’s one senator’s visit really matter?

  6. Israel P.
    HVTs: C’mon, Judith … the really important question (just ask Rachel MadCow, who “played the [Rubio water swig] moment on loop at the bottom of the screen for more than 13 minutes”) . . . the question all visitors to distant lands want to know . . . can he drink the water?

    Did she show him headed to the men’s room after those thirteen minutes?

  7. Nick Stuart

    Adapting a rhyme I learned at my father’s knee  “Leftists faults are many, Conservatives only two:  Everything they say, and everything they do.”

    Adapting an old joke told about George Bush “Netanyahu and Rubio are visiting the Sea of Gallilee. Netanyahu’s hat blows off, out onto the water. Rubio walks across the water and fetches it back. The headlines read ‘RUBIO UNABLE TO SWIM’.”

    It doesn’t matter what Rubio says, or doesn’t say; does, or doesn’t do. The MSM will count his trip a gaffe-laden, career-ending, disaster of epic proportions.

  8. Group Captain Mandrake
    Judith Levy, Ed.

    Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a little nervous about high-profile media events following his recent shellacking. I do hope that while he’s here, though, he moves beyond boilerplate and gives us some sense of the depth of his knowledge and the extent of his personal interest in this part of the world. · · 5 hours ago

    If he’s the man I think he is, he won’t give an agora for what the media made of the water-drinking incident.  I am cautiously optimistic about what he’ll say and do in Israel.  And yes, the MSM will no doubt issue their customary denigration.

  9. Judith Levy, Ed.
    C
    Percival: Doesanybody have the slightest idea what’s happening in Syria?

    Tune into tomorrow’s episode of International Edition with Levy & Counsell. We’ll be interviewing Jonathan Spyer, a tremendous investigative journalist and MidEast maven who just got back from Syria a couple of hours ago, literally. 

  10. Freesmith

    Israel, eh? Very interesting.

    Judith, will you also post on Ricochet when Senator Rubio announces that he’s planning a visit to Detroit or Camden, NJ?

    I understand America has some problems there.

    The Republicans, too.

  11. HVTs
    Nick Stuart:

    It doesn’t matter what Rubio says or doesn’t say … MSM will count his trip a gaffe-laden, career-ending, disaster …

    The MSM has adopted the President’s Alinskyite tactics as their own.

    Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it through ridicule.

    This is effective when done by pros, which Obama and his Chicago crew already were and the Rachel MadCow types quickly became.  Romney’s crew succumbed to Alinskyite tactics time after time.  Rubio is more on the ball.  He immediately produced  a Rubio water bottle to sell and raise PAC funds. That’s a good sign.

    Obama’s Alinskyite tactics are predictable and therefore not that difficult to defeat. But you have to call it out every time in order to educate the public. To oppose Alinsky you must go on offense and stay there.

    Party of Washington Republicans don’t get this and never will. They can’t see beyond the rules of the Democrat Media Complex. They worry about invitations to Sunday talk shows. They’re losers; Obama knows this and will continue punking them through 2016.

    But the jury is out on conservatives like Rubio and Cruz … we’ll soon see.

  12. EThompson

    Rubio’s visit is ostensibly a function of his position as a member of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees, but the visit is generating predictable snark (“A visit to the Holy Land is a hallowed tradition among presidential contenders, and nearly as important as the height-hair-optimism trifecta,” as New York Magazine’s Andre Tartar puts it).

    I suggest Senator Rubio fasten his seatbelt; it’s going to be a bumpy 3 years. 

    Bette Davis said so: All About Eve

  13. HVTs
    Freesmith

    The reticence of Republicans even to mention … Impoverished Urban Centers in the US, let alone visit them in order to criticize the uniformly Democrat administrations who have governed there for decades, is pathetic.

    Where was Romney, the Michigan boy?

    No argument from me . . . similar sentiments are at my comment #11.  Romney was incapable of going on the offensive.  As was McCain, for different reasons.  George W too, except in national security policy.  And Dole.  And Bush 41.  Seeing a consistent pattern here? 

    Where credit is due:  Newt Gingrich had a stump speech for years in the ’00′s that explicitly compared and contrasted Detroit in the 1950s with its current Democrat-run disaster. The statistics were astounding and the speech riveting. It’s why I was excited when he looked like a serious contender in 2012.  He’s a problematic candidate, as time would reveal.  But on his worst day he’d have been far more effective against Alinskyite Obama then Romney could ever be.

    The Party of Washington Republicans are a pathetic bunch of losers.  I think they have a stranglehold on the Party. Senators Cruz and Rubio (and some Governors) provide small hope that I’m wrong. 

  14. HVTs
    Freesmith:

    So declare war. Oppose everything blacks want. Cut back programs aimed at urban America. Mock their brain-dead, unprecedentedly monolithic, group-think voting.

    You can’t do any worse.

    It’s an interesting thesis.  I see merit in your proposal, but would have to give a lot of thought as to how it was presented and implemented.  But I can say this about you, as Lincoln did about Grant: ”I can’t spare this man, he fights.”  Would that a few more elected Republicans had your stomach for going on the offensive.

  15. Freesmith
    HVTs

    Freesmith:

    Judith, will you also post on Ricochet when Senator Rubio announces that he’s planning a visit to Detroit or Camden, NJ?

    I understand America has some problems there.

    C’mon Freesmith … get with the program here! You’ve clearly forgotten the Breitbart/Democrat Media Complex ground rules.  Here’s a refresher:

    Detroit and Camden are stinking cesspools but that’s not a problem unless the DMC tells you it’s a problem. These cities are run by Democrats.  There are no problems if you are run by Democrats.  The only exception is if, like in Chicago, the surrounding communities don’t let Democrats run everything.  Then there are problems, but it’s the fault of those surrounding municipalities that the Democrat-run city isn’t functioning perfectly. · 4 hours ago

    It’s not just the DMC, my friend. The reticence of Republicans even to mention The Ten Most Impoverished Urban Centers in the US, let alone visit them in order to criticize the uniformly Democrat administrations who have governed there for decades, is pathetic.

    Where was Romney, the Michigan boy?

    And why is Allen West on PJ Media instead of speaking truth to power in black America?  

  16. Freesmith

    You know, when things go wrong during a Republican period of governance our opponents the Democrats do not ignore the problem area. They go full-bore to the attack even if, as with Iran, they were originally in support of the policy when the Republican initiated it.

    Republicans have done the same on the issue of the national deficit and the debt.

    But when it comes to the manifest failure of liberal Democrat social policy in urban America, the GOP is silent. A catastrophe has been happening in our cities for decades, one that is solely tied to the Democrat Party and the regnant orthodoxy of progressivism, and yet conservatives say nothing, other than throwing the blacks a voucher bone.

    Here’s what I say: If conservatives are going to remain paralyzed by white guilt over slavery, segregation and civil rights, then admit it and treat Black America as a political enemy. Blacks already uniformly treat the GOP that way: what do you think 90-to-95% majorities against us mean?

    So declare war. Oppose everything blacks want. Cut back programs aimed at urban America. Mock their brain-dead, unprecedentedly monolithic, group-think voting.

    You can’t do any worse.

  17. HVTs
    Freesmith:

    Judith, will you also post on Ricochet when Senator Rubio announces that he’s planning a visit to Detroit or Camden, NJ?

    I understand America has some problems there.

    C’mon Freesmith … get with the program here! You’ve clearly forgotten the Breitbart/Democrat Media Complex ground rules.  Here’s a refresher:

    Detroit and Camden are stinking cesspools but that’s not a problem unless the DMC tells you it’s a problem. These cities are run by Democrats.  There are no problems if you are run by Democrats.  The only exception is if, like in Chicago, the surrounding communities don’t let Democrats run everything.  Then there are problems, but it’s the fault of those surrounding municipalities that the Democrat-run city isn’t functioning perfectly.