To Read: According to Eli Lake, while Obama is going to face a lot of angry people, he does have a surprising beacon of hope in Netanyahu:
Settlers say they will protest Obama’s address to university students because of a U.S. Embassy snub to students from a university in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister wants the U.S. government to coordinate his Jerusalem visit with the Palestinian side. Average Israelis are complaining the visit will make traffic a nightmare in the days before the Passover holiday. And the labor union that represents Israeli diplomats and foreign ministry workers has threatened a strike the week that he is coming, potentially disrupting the protocol for the meetings, the drivers, and the joint press appearances.
Welcome to Israel, Mr. President. But for all the pre-trip tumult in Israel, one person who is unlikely to cause Obama any problems is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite the icy personal relationship between the two leaders, Israel and the United States have quietly moved much closer on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program.
Quote: "We couldn’t keep them in office, but we should, we owed them more dignity”, Henry Kissinger about deposed Arab leaders 'that for 30 years were US allies'.
Number: 41, the percentage of Americans who believe that the US is putting the right amount of pressure on the Israeli government.
To Read: Aluf Ben thinks that the Israeli left needs to stop fantasizing about an American President coming to save the day and find itself its own Naftali Bennett-
The Israeli left has a fantasy in which a knight on a white horse appears in the figure of the president of the United States, coming to save Israel from itself and take it out of the territories. “Get rid of the settlers, return to the Green Line and give the West Bank to the Palestinians,” the knight thunders in perfect English, and the scary dragon of the settlers’ council and its lackeys in the government grumble and surrender. Cut!
The left has been telling itself this fairy tale for 46 years with the devotion of a Chabadnik who believes that the Lubavitcher Rebbe will return as the Messiah. It’s like the expectations that Jesus or Elvis will return, accompanied by fairies and unicorns. The disappointed believers know it won’t come true, but they continue to hope.
Quote: “Naftali knows Bibi’s weak spots, but even he couldn’t believe how quickly Bibi folded. He didn’t actually want to ‘kill him’ for tactical reasons, because he realized that in the end, they will have to work together”, 'someone close to Bennett' talking to almonitor' Mazal mualam.
Number: 15,000, the number of police officers who are going to protect Obama in his visit.
The Middle East
To Read: Vali Nasr believes that at this point the US can and should make gains in the Iran negotiations by slowly relieving sanctions rather than adding new ones and raising suspicions:
Since 2003, Washington has relied on sanctions to bring Iran to the international bargaining table. But the Bush and Obama administrations have done more sanctioning than negotiating — partly because putting pressure on Iran is popular in America, while making deals with Iran is not. Rather than pushing for a negotiated solution to the crisis, Washington has often seemed to be holding out for Iran to simply capitulate.
But that only undermines the original purpose of the sanctions — to resolve the crisis without war — because sanctions can be a two-edged sword. The more pressure they exert, the more suspicious Iran’s leaders get about America’s real intentions. The more suspicious they are, the more they want a nuclear program. And the closer they get to their nuclear goals, the more they feel able to resist new pressure.
Quote: “This fabric could be used in children’s clothing, and you know children tend to wear such [military] clothing in festivities”, Taher al-Nounou, a spokesman for the Hamas government, denying that the military uniforms smuggled from Egypt to Gaza are used for infiltrations of Sinai.
Number: 41, the annual percentage increase in foreign tourism to Iran in 2012, at least according to the FARS agency.
The Jewish World
To Read: Biblical scholar Leonard Greenspoon criticizes the tendency of psychoanalysts to superficially deconstruct and diagnose biblical figures:
…I modestly suggest that this psychoanalysis-at-a-great-distance should be characterized, in large measure, as cruelty to serious readers of the Biblical text. To which I might add reckless disregard for millennia of careful exegesis of the text on the part of literally hundreds of Biblical scholars applying approaches from the historical-critical to the synchronic. Perforce, these medical researches take the Biblical text just as it is and take no account of historical, literary or textual concerns. I only hope they are more fully prepared in their interpretation of medical data.
Quote: “in France, the killer is much more admired than the victims”, Samuel Sandler, father of one of the victims of the Toulouse massacre, in an interview.
Number: 9,000, the number of athletes participating in the Maccabiah games next July.