August 13, 2013 | 3:44 am
To Read: FP's Will Inboden points out what he sees as the Obama administration's 'diplomatic deficit'-
One of the persistent ironies of the Obama administration's foreign policy is that a president who initially campaigned on restoring diplomacy has in practice proved so inadequate at diplomacy. A common theme that strings together many of this administration's foreign-policy deficiencies are failures of diplomacy. Sometimes these failures stem from pure neglect, other times from botched relationships with prickly leaders, mistaken tactics, or severe disconnects between words and deeds. Taken in the whole, it is a poor diplomatic record. Others and I have commented before on President Barack Obama's puzzling lack of close personal relationships with other world leaders, which contributes to this diplomatic deficit. But there is more involved than just presidential aloofness.
Quote: "The United States of America views all of the settlements as illegitimate", Secretary of State John Kerry responding to Israel's decision to authorize some more settlement building.
Number: 22, the percentage of Americans who are satisfied with the way the way things are going in the country (a 6 point decline from July).
To Read: According to Jeffrey Goldberg, Benjamin Netanyahu seems to be getting more and more afraid about Israel being isolated and Kerry is capitalizing on his fear-
There are some early signs that Netanyahu is realizing the price his country may one day pay for its settlements, in particular those near Palestinian population centers. He met recently with some of Israel's leading manufacturers, who expressed their worry that their products may one day be boycotted in Europe, a worry he shares. Kerry, capitalizing on this anxiety, has warned Netanyahu in recent weeks that if the current peace talks bear no fruit, Israel may soon be facing an international delegitimization campaign -- in his words -- "on steroids."
According to officials I have spoken to, who requested anonymity so they could speak freely, Kerry thinks the one thing Netanyahu fears as much as Iran's nuclear program is the growing power of the international movement that seeks to isolate, scapegoat and demonize his country. (One caveat: Kerry, like most Americans who know Netanyahu, understands that the prime minister's narrowest but most potent fear is of being unseated.)
Quote: "[These guidelines have] hardened Palestinian positions, they seek an unrealistic end that everybody knows is not going to happen, and I think they stand in the way of reaching a solution which will only be reached by negotiations by the parties, and not by an external dictate. I think this is something that you know very well”, PM Netanyahu discussing the infamous EU resolution.
Number: 900, the number of additional housing units the interior ministry approved in East Jerusalem.
The Middle East
To Read: Ali Hashem examines the current state of the curious Hamas-Iran relationship-
Back in Tehran, on the day of Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration, the president welcomed the old resistance triad, Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. "The president wanted to send a clear message to Hamas that they are welcome,” said a source here in Tehran. “There were contacts during the past months to revive the relations, but after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt things became serious and Hamas showed much interest in healing the wounds, so meetings became very fruitful, and they were mainly in Beirut.”
Our source, who speaks Arabic very well and has good relations with Palestinian factions, explained that Tehran had no conditions. “We told Hamas a long time ago we don’t mind them having different views on any issue, except for Israel, still they have to be rational in their views, and as we understood many in their leadership are reviewing their position on the war in Syria.”
Quote: “There are a lot of reasons to worry that Syria will emerge as an even more powerful variant of what Afghanistan was more than 30 years ago”, Bruce Hoffman, director of security studies at Georgetown University, discussing radicalization and al Qaeda in Syria.
Number: 62, the percentage of Palestinian youths who believe that 'peaceful methods' are the best way to end the occupation, according to a recent poll.
The Jewish World
To Read: A Jewish Review of Books article attacks Reza Aslan's portrayal of early Judaism in his much talked about best seller (review by Allan Nadler)-
Readers with no background in the history of rabbinic Judaism will be misled by Aslan to believe that its pacification was the result of the Jews total defeat and expulsion from Palestine. Aslan seems to think that rabbinic Judaism is entirely a product of diaspora Jews who, only many decades after the Temple’s destruction, began to develop a less virulently and racist version of the Jewish religion, centered on Torah study. Can it be that this self-professed “historian of religions” is entirely ignorant of the Sages of the Land of Israel who flourished in the wake of the destruction of the Temple, and whose teachings are recorded in the Mishnah, and later the Jerusalem Talmud? Or is Aslan, here again, choosing deliberately to ignore inconvenient historical truths? And none is less convenient than the fact that a significant, and ultimately dominant, faction of Jews of first-century Palestine, far from being nationalist zealots, were pacifists whose accord with Vespasian gave birth to the religion we today recognize as Judaism.
Quote: “It’s a problem in the Jewish community and a problem people don’t want to acknowledge and a problem in society as a whole”, Nancy Kaufman, CEO of the National Council on Jewish Women, which is developing a strategy to address sex trafficking.
Number: $13,000, the amount of money the National Israeli tennis team is being forced to pay $13,000 to the Belgians for the inconvenience of postponing a Davis Cup match by a day due to Yom Kippur.
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