There is surely some irony to be found in the fact that President Obama’s first presidential trip to Israel will take place on the eve of Passover. The President has been as cool towards Israel as he has been towards the notion of American exceptionalism. It could well be that the two denials go together. In progressive circles, the historical ties Americans have traditionally felt towards the State of Israel are considered to be as disreputable as the nation’s hidebound attachment to its own biblical roots. It could be said that Obama no more understands the biblical roots of America than he understands the biblical roots of Israel, at least according to a Washington Post story on how Obama’s trip to Israel is an effort to repair this perception.
The Jewish celebration of Passover strongly resonates with a sense of renewal and new beginnings. It would be fitting if the President’s upcoming trip to the State of Israel were itself to mark such a new beginning -- an occasion to recall America’s own biblical affinities as well as the deep affinity between the new Israel and the “Israel of old.” The parallels between the case of Israel and that of America are closer than we may think.