Obama affirms Israel's ancient biblical roots

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — President Barack Obama has reassured Israelis who wondered if he recognized the Jewish nation's biblical roots.

When Obama delivered his 2009 speech to the Muslim world, many Jews felt he reinforced their enemies' charge that modern Israel was only founded out of Western guilt over the Nazi Holocaust.

So on arriving in Israel, Obama said, "More than 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people lived here, tended the land here, prayed to God here." He added that "the Jewish State of Israel was a rebirth" following "centuries of exile and persecution."

In New York, the Orthodox Union's public policy director, Rabbi Nathan Diament, said it also was "wonderful and encouraging" that the president referred to modern Israelis as descendants of the Bible's Abraham and Sarah.

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