It has been three years since President Bush’s May 15, 2008 address to Israel’s Knesset. Bush spoke in remarkably religious and biblical terms, describing Israel’s creation as not just a new country, but “the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham and Moses and David—a homeland for the chosen people: Eretz Yisrael.” Bush added, “Our friendship runs deeper than any treaty. It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul.”
The contrast in the respective religious flavors of the Bush and Obama administrations helps illuminate their differing approaches to Mideast issues. Moreover, it may highlight a serious misassessment of regional political realities by President Obama in continuing to lean on Israel for peace-process concessions.
Bush’s speech reflected his openness about his deep religious faith...Obama, however, is of a more secularized and progressive world. His team won’t speak of Israel in biblical terms or of God’s promise to the Jewish people, but only in post-Holocaust terms. His urbane, liberal, intellectual circles are embarrassed by God-talk. Such sophisticates might be God-conscious for a few hours of religious service on a weekend or holiday, but God is largely kept confined to houses of worship. God is banished from any enlightened intellectual or international political discussion.
Such secularism, however, may cloud geopolitical vision.