President Bush Tours Israel

According to the Associated Press, “something about Israel brings out the tourist in President Bush.”

Bush didn’t tour the Taj Mahal while in India and has eschewed many other extraordinary stops and cultural points of interest in his travels around the globe. Aides say he prefers to stick to business and leave the sightseeing for when he is a private citizen paying his own way and not disrupting the lives of locals.

But he veers from this model in Israel. In January, his first visit here as president, Bush went to Capernaum and the nearby Sea of Galilee, retracing the steps of Jesus and his disciples. He saw some of Christianity’s other holiest and most storied places, including Bethlehem and Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum.

This time, Bush is seeing not only Masada, but two more museums — the Israel Museum, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and is the venue for a reception hosted by Bush Thursday night in honor of the Israel anniversary, and the Bible Lands Museum, where he meets with Israeli youth on Friday.

President Bush’s visit to Israel in honor of the 60 year anniversary of the State is meant to push the peace process forward as Bush’s term comes to an end.  His tour of landmark historical sites such as Masada is a demonstration of the impossibility of divorcing today’s political issues from ancient history.

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