Of course, on such a trip Obama could drop in on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to show his passionate desire for a Palestinian state and love of that people. Yet this might not be enough in his mind to counter the cooties picked up in Israel that would supposedly horrify Muslims and Arabs. Moreover, it would be embarrassing to go and hang out with a PA leadership that is now in partnership with Hamas.
4. The failure of his “peace process” policy to make any progress at all might make him want to stay away from reminding people of that fact. If anything, Obama set back Israeli-Palestinian dealings. Obama cannot come and take credit for some breakthrough.
I suspect that all of the above reasons are factors in his staying away. As with so many other subjects relating to this administration, it’s amazing that this issue is not being discussed and analyzed at all.
Note: It has been pointed out that other presidents have not visited Israel in their first term. The point here is that Obama has been aware that he has faced an unusually high level of criticism on the Israel issue and that he has lost some Jewish support. He has been eager to consolidate it in the face of a tough reelection race. Thus, from his own standpoint he has certain motives that might make him view a trip to Israel as beneficial. In addition, unlike other presidents who didn’t visit Israel in their first term, he has been next door three times in Egypt or Turkey yet chose not to include Israel.
Incidentally, when Vice President Joe Biden did visit Israel he used the occasion to engage in a very sharp and unjustified attack that violated a previous U.S. commitment (throwing a tantrum over a zoning board decision to move construction of some buildings one step down the line, though the administration had secretly agreed not to complain about Israeli construction in east Jerusalem in exchange for a nine-month Israeli construction freeze on the entire West Bank).