To Read: According to Aaron David Miller, John Kerry should take the Israel-Palestine issue slower, avoid wars and assume a less bombastic role than President Obama if he wants the peace process to see some progress-
Perhaps for understandable reasons, Obama came charging out of the gate with no strategy and no coherent set of tactics, equipped only with big ideas and soaring rhetoric. Middle East envoy, challenge on settlements, new sheriff in town, and so forth. The lackluster results were predictable.
Kerry already has signaled his interest in moving the peace process forward -- and that's precisely why he should slow it down. A big early start with nothing in his pocket doesn't make any sense. Indeed, reports that he wanted to visit Israel as part of a regional tour -- perhaps even before the Israeli elections -- made no sense.
Quote: “Each time we have come and negotiated, it was the other side, unfortunately, who did not heed”, Iranian foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, blaming Obama’s “threatening rhetoric that everything is on the table” for the tension between the two countries.
Number: 325, the record number of army suicides, according to the Pentagon.
To Read: Alan Dershowitz defends Israel’s right to exist in this Ed Koch obituary-
What does Ed Koch’s death have to do with this? Everything! Koch made the traditional liberal case for Israel. He made it with his words, with his deeds and with his persona. He was an unashamed and unapologetic cheerleader for Israel as a liberal cause. He loved the Jewish state, despite its imperfections, just as he loved America despite its imperfections, and just as he loved liberalism despite its imperfections.
His generation, which experienced real anti-Semitism in educational and employment opportunities, understood that if Israel were not the Jewish state – the Jew among nations – it would not be subjected to the crass double standard it has had imposed on it by the international community, academia and the media.
Quote: “I’m not sure I’ll be in the coalition. I might lead the opposition. Netanyahu will impose financial cutbacks that will hurt the middle class. In a year-and-a-half, I’ll replace him. That’s what my advisers think too”, Lapid to his close aides, according to Israeli channel 2.
Number: 0, the number of women involved in the coalition negotiations.
The Middle East
Headline: Assad says Israel destabilizing Syria
To Read: Slate’s William Dobson thinks Mubarak must not be surprised by the current situation in Egypt-
Mubarak lacked many of the tools that other dictators enjoy to bolster his legitimacy. He couldn’t rely on oil revenue or natural resources (Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia) or extraordinary economic growth (China, Vietnam). So his primary political weapon was to stoke people’s fears of what would happen if he wasn’t there. As I have written elsewhere, “He based his legitimacy on an alternative history, on events that hadn’t happened but that he insisted could. Mubarak’s chief political argument was a scary unknown that he skillfully conjured for audiences with the conviction of certainty.
...And it turns out Mubarak wasn’t bluffing: The risks were real. Violent street clashes are no longer something foreign. Egypt is now living that alternative history.
Quote: "After becoming a hero, I was being ridiculed online and on Facebook and being accused of not being a real Egyptian and of taking money", Mohammad Saber, the man who whose beating raised controversy in Egypt, recalling his experiences.
Number: 4, the number of F-16 fighter jets delivered to Egypt by the US.
The Jewish World
To Read: A very interesting article by Chief Commonwealth Rabbi Jonathan Sacks traces the roots of democracy in the Hebrew Bible-
Even today, standard works on the history of political thought trace it back, through Marx, Rousseau and Hobbes to Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Politics and the Greek city state (Athens in particular) of the fourth century BCE. This is a serious error. To be sure, words like “democracy” (rule by the people) are Greek in origin. The Greeks were gifted at abstract nouns and systematic thought. However, if we look at the “birth of the modern” – at figures like Milton, Hobbes and Locke in England, and the founding fathers of America – the book with which they were in dialogue was not Plato or Aristotle but the Hebrew Bible. Hobbes quotes it 657 times in The Leviathan alone. Long before the Greek philosophers, and far more profoundly, at Mount Sinai the concept of a free society was born.
Quote: “The military draft is just part of the whole picture — to suggest otherwise is like saying that Rosa Parks was struggling for seating arrangements on a particular bus”, Anat Hoffman showing optimism about Lapid and discussing the need for more religious pluralism in Israel.
Number: 17, the percentage of Jews among the voters of LA’s mayoral elections.