This last Tuesday I awaited the reporter's next question.
We were sitting in the ultra modern business lounge of the Mamilla hotel in East Jerusalem. The reporter had been tailing me as I toured some yet-to-be-made-public excavations in the City of David, just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.
My seven days in Israel went by in such a flash it was genuinely difficult to focus on doing an interview with the nation's leading newspaper. My mind raced as the people I had been with were much on my mind, and the sights I had seen--especially those that were relevant to my faith--stirred something deeper in me than I had realized. Nonetheless my visit was almost over and here I sat with a reporter who wished to ask my opinion of the things I had experienced.
Finally, in somewhat broken English came the query, "What do you think President Obama will do when he visit's Israel next week?"
Having been warned by my hosts to be leery of reporters from Israel's largest newspaper, I wished to choose my words carefully.
"What I hope President Obama will do on his visit here... is to listen twice as much as he speaks," I replied.
You could visibly see that she was taken by surprise by this answer. I had not mentioned Iran, Palestinians, Netanyahu, or even Syria.
She was curious and wished to understand my response further.
I had just concluded six days of listening to Israel personally.
I had listened to incoming Knesset members--like former Deputy Speaker Danny Danon--explain to me their worries about Iran. I had listened intently to the son of Israel's beloved Prime Minister Itzak Shamir--Yair--a newly seated Knesset member himself--beam with pride over Israel's explosion in start-up technology businesses.
I had just listen to Dani Dayan, president of the YESHA council who has responsibility for the protection and safety of 450,000 Jewish residents in communities (the Israeli and American press call them "settlements") inside of Judeah and Samaria (the Left call these "The West Bank" even though we were 30 miles from the Jordan river's edge.) Mr. Dayan spoke passionately about the safety of the region, the commitment of keeping the Palestinian and Jewish communities safe, and the beauty of the agricultural industry in the region that employs both Arabs and Jews in helping them provide for their families. This agricultural excellence has been proven by the numerous awards the Israeli wineries are now dominating the competition in.