To Read: Robert Kaplan believes that President Obama's foreign policy is defined by 'not being like Bush', rather than by setting a positive agenda of its own-
… with past administrations there was, at the very least, the media intuition that something was happening in foreign policy; the current media intuition is that despite episodic news events that must be reported on, nothing is happening.
Nothing is happening because Obama has no grand geopolitical conception. He and his top officials are not great European-style improvisers like Kissinger. They don't have a plan for America, like Holbrooke had, to be a great moral force while promoting its geopolitical interests at the same time. They don't intend to upend a utopian ideology (communism) like Reagan did. And unlike the elder Bush team, they have no design for stabilizing the world once that ideology was, in fact, upended. (After all, jihadism and terrorism are disease germs like malaria, which can be suppressed but probably not wholly eliminated. This is a different order of threat from communism.) In sum, Obama offers only a negative: I am not George W. Bush. He started wars. I will end them, and avoid future ones. I will kill individual terrorists as they crop up. That's all, thank you.
Quote: “It's a two-way street and it's a dangerous street", Secretary of State John Kerry, describing the difficulties and dangers Iraq is facing being between Iran and Syria.
Number: 15, the number of times Chuck Hagel has spoken with General Sisi since Morsi's 'departure'.
To Read: Gershon Baskin, the man who negotiated the Gilad Shalit deal, thinks that finding a solution to the Jerusalem problem is a much more doable task than people think-
If the issues in conflict in Jerusalem can be resolved in negotiations, all other aspects of the negotiations will be easier. If Jerusalem cannot be resolved, there can be no Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Since most aspects of the Jerusalem issue have been negotiated in the past and since there have been so many workable proposals designed for Jerusalem by Israeli and Palestinian experts who have worked together on finding them, it is more possible to reach an agreement on Jerusalem than most people believe.
Quote: “The horrors that [the Palestinian prisoners] did, to put it in a Scandinavian understanding, it’s like what happened in Norway with Breivik. Imagine if Breivik was released as a gesture of some sort”, Isaac Buchman, Israel's Ambassador to Sweden, making a problematic comparison.
Number: 20,000, the number of Palestinians working in settlements, according to a survey.
The Middle East
To Read: The NR's Leon Wieseltier has a name for the new Egyptian regime-
When Obama remarked that “the Egyptian people deserve better,” he missed the central complexity of this crisis: the Egyptian people, or the majority of it, believe that they deserve this. What are we to make of this fact? One thing is certain: the millions in the square cheering the repressive generals on do not confer any sort of democratic legitimacy upon the generals’ actions. Democracy is not whatever a mob, or a majority, wants. Indeed, democracy was designed to thwart the mob, and set limits to the tyranny of the majority, by reconfiguring it, by means of politics, into a free and self-governing people. For weeks now people have been puzzling over the liberals of Egypt and their enthusiasm for a violent coup. Perhaps the confusion was semantic. It is time to stop calling these people liberals. A military dictator supported by the masses in the streets: there is another name for such a phenomenon, which is not unfamiliar in the annals of modern politics. Its name is fascism. (Which is another name for the wisdom of crowds.)
Quote: "We can't speak now about what happened. We discussed the issues which are always on the table: borders, Jerusalem, settlements", PA President Mahmoud Abbas, commenting on the first round of Peace talks.
Number: 24, the number of people killed in a car bomb in Beirut.
The Jewish World
To Read: A Forward piece compares between 'Yeshivish' (the language of Yiddish speaking Orthodox American Jews) and between Ebonics-
The case with Yeshivish is similar. One can compose no end of sentences in it to which the average American wouldn’t have a clue. When an American-born mother says to her misbehaving birthday child, using Hebrew and Yiddish words that are part of her daily speech, “Yankele, if khas v’sholem you make a shande you won’t be zoykhe to have your simkhe” few non-Yeshivish speakers would know she is telling him that if, God forbid, he makes a scene, he won’t be entitled to his party. Yet the same mother understands standard English perfectly and can speak it flawlessly whenever she has to.
Quote: 'Amalek', Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, a prominent leader in the haredi world, compared Yair Lapid and his fellow Yesh Atid Minister Shay Piron to Amalekites (Amalek were an evil people which the people of Israel were commanded to eradicate in the bible).
Number: 16, the number of Poles who recently discovered their Jewish roots after being raised Catholic and who arrived in Israel for a special seminar by the Shavei Israel organization.