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Barack Obama came to Jerusalem to deliver an old message on the need to "reaffirm the historic and special relationship between the United States and Israel, one that cannot be broken." Even if Israel's security is hinged on its close relationship with the U.S., this is not enough.

The significance of these ties is in their ability to serve as leverage for the goal of reaffirming Israel's security. Regional threats require more aggressive diplomatic activity, which the Bush administration has failed to propose or implement.

Obama offers the American voter "something new." Therein lies his charm. Israel and the rest of the region's countries need diplomatic innovation as well. But it seems that Obama - like his opponent John McCain and like U.S. President George W. Bush before him - is attempting to assure potential Jewish voters at the expense of promoting the peace processes in the region.

It seems Obama is putting extra effort into allaying the suspicions of the Jewish community, which is distrustful of him because of his "Muslim past," and because of the relatively balanced viewpoints that he demonstrates vis-a-vis the dispute in the Middle East.

Upon arriving in Jerusalem, Obama spoke of the "profound" joint security related challenges. He assured listeners that even though he viewed the peace process with Syria as very important, "I would never tell you to do something which would compromise your security."

In addressing the terrorist attack in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Obama was content to make a general observation that it was proof of the need to "to work together in all urgency to prevent the recurrence of such incidents."

The history of Israel's relationship with the U.S., primarily since 1967, attests to the flimsy connection between public statements by presidential hopefuls - and even their explicit pledges right before the ballots are counted - and the Middle East policy they adopt upon taking office.

One of the prime examples was the commitment to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by 1999. Although this initiative was passed into law 13 years ago, Bill Clinton and George Bush used their authority to put its implementation on hold.

The hope is that Obama left Jerusalem and Ramallah with a deeper understanding of the need to shelve the flowery statements that his Jewish affairs advisors had devised for him, if he is to truly be "a friend of Israel."

One should keep in mind that the interests of the Israel lobby in America do not always jibe with the interests of the State of Israel. Instead of talking about a "united Jerusalem," he needs to become involved in finding a realistic solution for Israel's torn and bleeding capital.

To survive as a Jewish and democratic state, Israel needs an American leader who does not fear the reaction of American Jews and non-Jews who do not believe in dividing the land to reconcile its two peoples.

A friend of Israel, for example, would be a president who brings Syria and Israel to the negotiating room, and pours some real substance into Bush's statement about wanting to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.