THE WEEKLY STANDARD has been able to confirm reports that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to be in Israel on Sunday, July 29. That day coincides on the Jewish calendar with the observance of the ninth day of the month of Av—Tisha B’Av, the fast day that commemorates the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem.
During discussions about the trip over the last month, advisers to Romney and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the appropriateness of a Romney visit to Israel on this date. But Netanyahu, THE WEEKLY STANDARD has confirmed from top aides in Jerusalem and Boston, encouraged Romney to be in Jerusalem on this solemn day, one that recalls the tragedies of Jewish history and calls to mind current threats to the Jewish people.
Indeed, THE WEEKLY STANDARD can report that Prime Minister and Mrs. Netanyahu have invited the Romneys to join them for the traditional meal breaking the fast following sundown after Tisha B’Av. This gesture suggests that what may have started out as a routine candidate touchdown in Israel has become a more serious and significant moment for both Netanyahu and Romney.