JERUSALEM (Christian Examiner) -- Dr. Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon and potential Republican candidate for president in 2016, is on his first trip to Israel, reportedly to better understand relationships in the Middle East. Carson, 63, has not officially announced he is running for the Oval Office, but in recent history conservative candidates have visit the Holy Land as an international first step.
Carson, who is a devout Christian and has espoused biblical values in the past, said it is important to see the struggles of Israel face to face in order to have a complete understanding.
"As I consider a run, Israel is an extremely important place to have a good pulse on," he told Newsmax. "We've all read a lot about it, we've all heard a lot about it, but if you haven't actually been there, experienced the culture, talked to the people, I think you're always going to have a little bit of a distorted impression."
During the trip, Carson and wife Candy will visit Jerusalem, the Gaza strip, a military base, Nazareth and the town of Galilee. The doctor also will speak with the head of neurosurgery at the Jerusalem Hadassah Medical Center and take time out to talk with religious leaders. If possible, Carson also will travel to Bethlehem, which is currently under Palestinian control.
Carson criticized what he described as weak U.S. government support for Israel.
"I don't get the impression that Israel feels that we are their solid ally anymore," he continued. "One of the reasons that is so problematic is because if we can't support them, what are our other allies thinking? We have to really think about these ramifications and at some point we have to lead. We have to have an actual foreign policy that is proactive and not just reactive to what's going on."
Carson will announce whether he is officially running for President by May 1.