March 24, 2013 | 4:20 am
To Read: Alon Pinkas thinks that an Israel-obsessed Israeli public got Obama’s take on Israel all wrong:
In the eyes of many Israelis, President Barack Obama doesn’t really "understand Israel." He is not sensitive and sentimental toward its hardship, he is not filled with love and does not shed tears when Israel is the issue. He is not Clinton or Georg W. Bush. This is nonsense, but one can understand its source: The way Obama perceives Israel is unfamiliar to many Israelis who are soaked in the marinade of their self-image and the uniqueness of their national existence.
Quote: “Today’s phone call between PM Netanyahu & PM Erdogan is a positive step that we hope leads to lasting cooperation on many important issues”, Ambassador Susan Rice, implying that the reconciliation phone call between Netanyahu and Erdogan might be the beginning of a more serious cooperation between the US and Turkey.
Number: 18, the percentage difference between Democrats and Republicans in their support for Israel, according to Gallup.
Headline: IDF fires at Syrian military post
To Read: According to Amos Harel, while the reconciliation attempt with Turkey is an important one, the tension between Israel and Turkey runs deeper than the flotilla accident:
The Turkish-Israeli reconciliation is a belated, but necessary move. In addition to noting the impressive achievement chalked up by U.S. President Barack Obama prior to his departure from Israel and the potential strategic benefits of the good news from Ankara, one should consider the reconciliation in its true proportions. Anyone still expecting a rapid renewal of the extremely close relationship that existed between the two countries in the 1990s is likely to be disappointed.
Quote: "We did not agree to promise that under any condition we would continue to transfer all the things into Gaza and ease up on the residents of Gaza if there is shooting from there. We do not intend to give up on our right to respond to what happens in Gaza because of the agreement with the Turks", National security advisor Yacov Amidror about the reconciliation with Turkey
Number: $500m, the amount of Palestinian authority aid unblocked by the US.
The Middle East
Headline: CIA Expands Role in Syria Fight
To Read: Jeffrey Goldberg recounts Jordanian King Abdullah’s skeptical remarks about the Muslim brotherhood and about the US trusting them too much:
The king, among other Arab leaders, is worried that the Obama administration has an overly naive view of the Brotherhood and of other Islamist leaders. This is one of the main subjects he will address when he has dinner tonight with U.S. President Barack Obama, who is visiting him in Amman, the Jordanian capital. (Another main issue, of course, is the disintegration of Syria, to Jordan’s north.) The king was careful not to criticize Obama to me, but he did lament that U.S. officials discount warnings about the Brothers as the empty complaints of Arab liberals or those vested in the status quo. Some Westerners, he said, argue that “the only way you can have democracy is through the Muslim Brotherhood.
Quote: “Personally, I think that’s a complete misreading of what’s going on in Iran. They’re not in a hurry to build that first nuclear weapon because they’re not intimidated by the United States. Iran is building a very broad and deep nuclear weapons program that, as time goes on, will put them in a position to build many, many nuclear weapons – dozens and dozens in a relatively brief period of time. That’s capacity they want to have, not one or two nuclear weapons but a whole arsenal of them”, former US ambassador John Bolton about Iran’s nuclear program.
Number: $200m, the amount of additional aid money President Obama announced he will offer Jordan in effort of assisting its Syrian refugee crisis.
The Jewish World
To Read: Stephen Kellman gives his well written account of Phillip Roth’s monumental 80th birthday celebration:
Then came forth Philip Roth, looking remarkably hale for 80 and all the rumors about ailments of the heart, the prostate, and the mind. Sitting at a table, his only concession to age and a bad back, he spoke deliberately and engagingly in the companionable voice that has drawn readers into 31 books and earned him enough literary prizes to shame the jurors in Stockholm. He praised Newark for shaping him and the realistic novel for its “passion for specificity,” its “ruthless intimacy.” Reaffirming his decision to retire from fiction, Roth teased the audience with a catalog of subjects he would no longer be turning words to get right. Then he proceeded to read seven pages from Sabbath’s Theater (1995), the book he called his favorite. The passage, an aging Mickey Sabbath’s thoughts while visiting the graves of his mother and father, is in itself a moving meditation on memory, love, and loss. The occasion made it much more poignant. Roth reminded us that the epigraph he had chosen for the novel, from The Tempest, is: “Every third thought shall be my grave.” Everyone in the audience, even those whose suspicion and cynicism had been finely tuned by the work of that most devious of novelists, knew that they had been present for an extraordinary moment in American literary history. His revels now ended, the Prospero of Weequahic exited the stage.
Quote: "It just can't be that the German government gives out several billion to rescue Greece and other crisis-struck countries but is stingy with ghetto pensions”, Israeli MK Elazar Stern protesting the German parliament’s decision to block a measure to resolve the amount German pension funds must pay to former laborers in Nazi-era ghettos
Number: $1m, the sum of the money to be awarded to the recipient of the new Genesis Prize for Jewish achievement.
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