After a four-year wait, Jews in Metro Detroit are a little giddy about President Barack Obama's visit to Israel — his first as president — on Wednesday.
Just the fact he's making the trip is good for relations between the two countries, they said.
"They're strong allies and will continue to be in the future," said Sharon Lipton, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Bloomfield Hills. "Just by going to Israel will reinforce that opinion."
Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans in southeast Michigan were less sanguine.
They said the president should be focused on putting out fires in other regional hotspots rather than trying to reassure Israel about American support.
"The entire world we come from is burning, and this country isn't doing anything about it," said Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News.
The three-day visit comes during a fraught time in a fraught region.
Israel sees Iran's burgeoning nuclear program as a threat to its existence and has hinted at launching a preemptive military strike against the program. Obama has said he prefers a diplomatic remedy.
Jews in Metro Detroit said they hope the president sends a clear signal the United States won't tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran.
"It's a threat to the entire region," said Kari Alterman, director of the local chapter of the American Jewish Committee.
"Iranians need to understand the severity of what their actions will bring upon themselves."
She also hopes the president, who will visit the West Bank on Thursday, will convince the Palestinians to resume peace talks with Israel.
The Palestinians refuse to negotiate unless Israel stops building settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Israel says the talks should resume without preconditions.
Imad Hamad, regional director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said Obama should protest the settlements — and not just because they're an impediment to peace talks.
Hamad, who is a Palestinian-American, said the settlements are an affront to democracy.
"Human rights are universal. They're not measured by race or origin," he said.
"What's right is right. The U.S. is the champion of freedom and democracy. We can't be selective when it comes to people's rights."
Local Palestinian-Americans are upset with the president for refusing to support a Palestinian bid for independence at the United Nations in November.
One thing American Jews and Arab-Americans in southeast Michigan agree about is neither expects the president's visit to result in a major breakthrough in peace talks.
The president played down such expectations before the trip, which will be centered on ceremonial events and efforts to seek public appeal.
But that's good enough for Lipton, who allowed that some American Jews have been less than enamored with Obama during his first term.
Past trips to the Middle East have bypassed Israel with Obama giving speeches aimed at improving U.S. relations with the Arab and Muslim world.
"There's some division," Lipton said. "Some feel he's not as good a friend to Israel as he could have been."
But Siblani complained the president's friendly words to Arabs and Muslims haven't been matched by friendly actions.
He said Obama has pointed out problems, but offered no solutions to unrest in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon and Tunisia.
And now the president is going to Israel with no plans to push the peace talks.
"The president is going there to do what?" Siblani asked. "There's no vision, no clear understanding of his mission."