Mitt Romney’s trip to Israel this summer signals a full-bore appeal to Jewish voters right around the time of the Republican convention in early September.
Romney’s trip is designed to highlight President Obama’s decision not to travel to Israel during his presidency, said Fred Zeidman, a Texas oil executive and prominent Republican Jewish Romney supporter.
“He’s going to the Olympics, and since he was over there someone on the inside said, ‘Hey, you’re that far why don’t you go to Israel, to point out once again the fact [of] your support of Israel, and by the way the president still hasn’t ever been,’” Zeidman said.
Obama last visited Israel in July 2008, soon before that year’s Democratic convention.
The trip, first reported yesterday by the New York Times, will last less than two days. Romney is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Israeli President Shimon Peres, and others, according to the Times.
When contacted by the Forward, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul declined to provide any further details about the trip.
The Republican National Convention is set to start on August 23 in Tampa, Fla. With Romney just back from Israel, lots of talk about the trip — and Romney’s proposed Middle East policy — is to be expected.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.