To Read: Walter Russell Mead thinks that President Obama is too impressed with his own rhetoric-
You cannot be a great speaker unless you are a great doer. If Martin Luther King Jr. had not led the civil-rights movement to success and ultimately laid down his life for it, his speeches would be little studied. If Churchill had surrendered to Hitler, nobody would care about his defiant addresses.
At worst, as in Mr. Obama's Cairo speech, the contrast between exalted rhetoric and mingy deeds undermines both speech and speechmaker. But even at their best, the president's speeches often demonstrate an intellectual mastery of the subject but lack a true aim. To change that, he would do well to quit thinking of speechmaking as an act in itself and begin to think of it as the verbal expression of an action already under way. Otherwise, Mr. Obama's speeches will continue to resemble the fireworks that lit up America's skies last week: briefly dazzling the crowds, then fading quickly as the dark returns.
Quote: “There’s an elephant in the room here. It is in our national interest, the best interests of the United States and the best interests, in our view, of our goal of assisting the Egyptian people in their transition to democracy to take the time necessary to evaluate the situation before making such a determination”, Whitehouse spokesman Jay Carney commenting on the coup question.
Number: 68, the percentage of Americans who favor holding national referendums on key issues.
To Read: According to Yehudah Mirsky, the whole of Israeli society has some thinking to do about religion and state-
Thus, in confronting Haredi Judaism and its increasing assertiveness, which are as much signs of change and internal crisis as they are of triumphalism and aggressiveness, Israeli society’s establishment—or what’s left of it—must confront the crisis of its own values. It’s not a pretty picture. The collapse of the commanding, highly centralized Labor ethos of the founding decades has splintered Israel into a collection of unabashedly self-asserting tribes. Those sectors of Israeli society still committed to forging a decent polity at large must recapture some sort of language for dealing with complexity. They cannot afford to retreat into the comforts of technological success and the false messianisms of faith, power or, on the Left, the paralyzing cocktail of despair and good intentions. Rather like the Haredim, they need to find a new way of simultaneously talking and living in dialogue with both heaven and earth, without confusing one for the other, and without disturbing the integrity and inescapable discipline of either.
Quote: “Their ways are not our ways, and the sages said he who lifts up a hand against his fellow is called an evil person”, Shas Leader Arye Deri distancing his party from a high profile incident in which a Haredi soldier was attacked by ultra orthodox Jews.
Number: 1,000,000, Israel's defense establishment believes that more than one million West Bank-based Palestinians will enter Israel during the month of Ramadan.
The Middle East
To Read: John Bolton believes that the US should have heeded Mubarak's predictions-
Obviously, Mubarak was no Jeffersonian democrat. The former commander of Egypt’s air force, he became Anwar Sadat’s vice president, and then president when the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Sadat for concluding the Camp David peace accord with Israel. Mubarak led a violent crackdown against the Brotherhood, watched it warily for 30 years, and warned the West that if his government fell, the Brotherhood would inevitably take power. Western cognoscenti scoffed at Mubarak’s prediction, calling it just a convenient excuse for repressing the Brotherhood and other dissidents threatening the ultimate authority of the military, which controlled Egypt since King Farouk’s 1952 overthrow.
Mubarak, it transpires, understood his country better than the Western know-it-alls.
Quote: “Therefore, there is every reason to believe that it was the armed opposition fighters who used the chemical weapons in Khan al Asal”, Russia's Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, claiming that Syrian rebels used chemical weapons in March.
Number: £50 million, the amount of money the UK pledged to help Lebanon deal with its Syrian refugees.
The Jewish World
To Read: A 'Times of Israel' piece tells the remarkable story of Nicholas Winton, a 'British Schindler' who saved 669 Jewish children and didn't tell anyone about it for 50 years-
Winton, then a young British stockbroker, dropped everything in early 1939, set up a refugee committee operation in Prague, and worked tirelessly to get Jewish children out on kindertransports to England and Sweden. No one knew what he had done because the children were either unaware of who had saved them, or were too young to remember. Winton himself went on to serve in the Royal Air Force and later to marry and start a family, never mentioning his act of heroic kindness to anyone.
Quote: “What I’m looking for is a chance to be heard. I want the voters to listen to what I’ve done, look at the record that I developed as attorney general, as an assistant district attorney, as governor, and say, ‘This guy understood the public interest’”, Eliot Spitzer making a comeback to public life.
Number: 30, the number of Israeli public figures who have signed a petition against the candidacy of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu for chief Sephardic Rabbi.