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President Obama To Make Several Symbolic Gestures During Trip To Israel

Visit To Dead Sea Scrolls Viewed As Big Step In White House's Relationship
Obama-Netanyahu

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) during meetings in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., March 5, 2012. The two leaders go into talks on the Iranian nuclear stand-off, with each publicly seeking to stake out some common ground. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s one of the first things President Barack Obama will see when he touches down in Israel next week, one of the Iron Dome missile batteries used to blow Palestinian rockets out of the sky.

It will send a not-so-subtle message that despite Obama’s historically cool relationship with Israel he is still committed to guaranteeing its security and giving it a qualitative military edge.

“What the president is saying is that there should be a state of Israel and it’s the place where the Jewish people belong,” New York Sen. Charles Schumer told CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer on Wednesday.

Obama is planning a lot of symbolic love giving, including visiting the graves of Yitzhak Rabin and Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, and the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls.

“It shows that the Jewish people have been in Israel for thousands and thousands of years,” Sen. Schumer said.

And that, Jewish leaders said, is a very important message to convey to those who are seeking to destroy or delegitimize Israel.

“If you take away our past, you take away our future, and this is a statement by going to the Dead Sea Scrolls,” said Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “The message will be a positive one to say Israel is a reality, a stark reality, a future reality, deal with ‘em.”

The president will also give a speech to college students. And in a nod to the Palestinians all Israeli colleges are invited — except those who attend Ariel University in the West Bank.

Not everyone thinks the snub is a good idea.

“I think that the symbolic gesture [is] appreciated and understood by the Palestinian side, but I also think that as the leader of the greatest democracy in the world, I think it’s essential to have all parties hear what you have to say,” said Zead Ramadan of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of New York.

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