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U.S is now less popular in the region than at the end of the George W. Bush administration.

President Obama’s first journey to Israel as president comes amid earth-shattering change in Middle East, much of it for the worse. The Arab Spring, which once raised hopes of freedom and dignity, has diverged onto the dark path of Islamist authoritarian rule. In Syria, tens of thousands of people have died in a bitter civil war that might have recently seen its first use of chemical weapons. And Iran continues its march toward nuclear weapons capability, heedless of international condemnation. Obama’s effort to seek peace between Palestinians and Israelis is in tatters.

That’s why the White House has been lowering expectations for Obama’s trip to Israel all this week. He will announce no new peace plan, grand design or major foreign policy initiative. His advisers are calling the trip a “listening tour.” That is what you call a state visit when you have little to say.

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