From the moment the White House announced that President Barack Obama would travel to Israel, the administration undertook a systematic effort to lower expectations, calling the trip a “listening mission.” On that count, the president’s trip succeeded before it started. Practically no one expects the Obama visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan to achieve any kind of a historic triumph.
Given the deliberately minimized ambitions of the trip, how will we know if this much-anticipated tour was worth the president’s time? How can we judge if it truly was a failure or a success?
The idea of nipping any hopes even before they begin to bud was wise. After all, the Middle East has humbled the most accomplished of statesmen. Many world leaders have dreamed of etching their name in the history books by brokering agreements between competing factions, most recently between Israelis and Palestinians, only to the see their efforts collapse amid violence and disillusionment.