At the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol confirms new details of Mitt Romney’s upcoming visit to Israel:
During discussions about the trip over the last month, advisers to Romney and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the appropriateness of a Romney visit to Israel on this date [Tisha B'Av]. But Netanyahu, the Weekly Standard has confirmed from top aides in Jerusalem and Boston, encouraged Romney to be in Jerusalem on this solemn day, one that recalls the tragedies of Jewish history and calls to mind current threats to the Jewish people.
Indeed, the Weekly Standard can report that Prime Minister and Mrs. Netanyahu have invited the Romneys to join them for the traditional meal breaking the fast following sundown after Tisha B’Av. This gesture suggests that what may have started out as a routine candidate touchdown in Israel has become a more serious and significant moment for both Netanyahu and Romney.
Some media reports criticized Mitt Romney for scheduling a Jerusalem fundraising event shortly after the conclusion of Tisha B’Av, the day of Jewish mourning for the destruction of the First and Second Temples. But it sounds like the event will now be postponed due to Romney’s dinner with Netanyahu.
Romney could not have chosen a more important and symbolic time to visit Israel this summer. Tisha B’Av and the nine days leading up to it is a time of mourning not just for the temples, but for all the historical atrocities that have befallen the Jewish people on that date, from the Alhambra Decree issued in Spain in 1492 to the deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to a Nazi extermination camp. Breaking the fast with Netanyahu and his wife will add to the weightiness of Romney’s visit. Politically, it will also sharpen the contrast between Romney and President Obama — it’s hard to imagine Netanyahu and Obama sitting down for any meal together, let alone a meal as intimate and meaningful as this one.
UPDATE: For those interested in additional historical context on Tisha B’av, Rabbi Josh Yuter tweets at me:
Interesting post on Romney’s Israel speech – One quibble, not as much happened on 9Av as many believe
Click the last link to read Rabbi Yuter disputing some common assumptions about Tisha B’av.