Stanford Professor thinks Obama’s Israel Trip is a mistake

English: President Barack Obama talks with Isr...

English: President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a phone call from the Oval Office, Monday, June 8, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barack Obama’s Israel trip: Benjamin Netanyahu will learn that he can insult the president and fail to advance the peace process and still land a presidential visit from the White House. – Slate Magazine.

The author makes some fair points, and I have never been a huge cheerleader for either Mr. Netanyahu or Mr. Obama.

Nonetheless, Ms. Zacharia overlooks an important political truth. I suspect Obama is not going to Israel to praise Bibi, but to give heart to the growing and increasingly viable moderate middle in Israeli politics.

The government just formed in Jerusalem is perhaps one of the most interesting, intelligent, and hopeful administrations that Israel has seen in a decade or more. It finds itself less under the sway of nationalist fundamentalists and more under those who seek practical, intelligent ways forward.

Israel cannot slam the door on peace, nor can it continue to hive off large chunks of its real estate without concessions in return. The new administration collectively gets that. If Obama does not step in to show support now, he is by lack of action giving aid and comfort to extremists on both ends of the spectrum and on both sides of the Jewish-Arab divide.

It is disappointing that a former Jersualem bureau chief of the Washington Post completely misses this point.

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Seeking a Solution to the Gay Marriage Issue that is Fair to All Sides

One of the primary justifications used by advocates for legalizing marriage between members of the same sex is that the legal and financial protections normally accorded to spouses in heterosexual unions is not available to same-sex life partners.

One way to address this without hollowing out the institution of marriage as practiced by people of faith (or rending the American polity) would be to recognize in both law and language a clear distinction between civil unions and religious marriages. A civil union would be a strictly legal binding process, whereas a religious marriage would take place within the laws and customs of a faith. The state would have no power to order a priest, imam, minister, or rabbi to conduct a same-sex union, and each religion/order would be free to address the question independently.

Thus, to the extent that there needs to be a civil framework for unions occurring outside theologically acceptable bounds, we need to arrive at a common (read “national” as opposed to “state”) set of legal principles so as to keep distinct sanctified and codified relationships. This is fair. What is not fair or correct, however, is a state-led effort that by word or deed dilutes the importance or value of a faith-based marriage. While the state may decide to place legal equivalence on faith-based marriage and civil unions, they cannot legislate a moral equivalence. To attempt to do so would see the government operating outside the bounds of the U.S. Constitution.

It is important for us to get past this debate because we must stop focusing on the marital process and turn our focus where it belongs: on the creation and support of healthy, nurturing families.