As Air Force One approached Ben Gurion International Airport, with a biblical landscape spread out below, the U.S. president aboard likely considered himself imperiled, under siege.
His hosts felt the same way.
For Richard M. Nixon, making the first visit to Israel by a sitting U.S. president, it was less than two months before the slow-grinding wheels of the Watergate scandal would drive him from office, the first president in American history to resign.
In Israel, not even a year had elapsed since a war that had brought the still-young state to the brink of oblivion. It was June 1974, a moment when both Nixon and his Israeli hosts sensed the weight of history, the...