To Read: Michael O’Hanlon claims that although Obama’s big counter-terrorism speech featured no special policy changes, it did make an important statement-
Of course, none of the noncombatant casualties are “acceptable’ or “reasonable” or even necessarily “inevitable.” But the widespread view that U.S. drone strikes outside Afghanistan have been cavalier or careless is incorrect and needed to be rebutted. Indeed, I would have preferred that the president be even more specific, and somewhat quantitative, in giving his estimates of innocent casualties.
But what he did say today was a lot better than nothing – it was overdue and important.
Quote: “At a time when we need resolve the most, we're sounding retreat. We show this lack of resolve, talking about the war being over. What do you think the Iranians are thinking? At the end of the day, this is the most tone-deaf president I ever could imagine", Lindsay Graham, always good for a quote about President Obama.
Number: 100, one hundred years ago yesterday the murder that led to the Leo Franck trial (and the creation of the KKK’s second Klan and the ADL) took place.
To Read: Christian Caryl explains why he left out the Camp David agreement from a book he wrote about the world changing events of 1979-
So yes, the Camp David process was important but ambivalent. Though the accords delivered peace between Israel and its most powerful foe, they left the more fundamental issues of Middle East discord unaddressed. Nor did they fundamentally change the way we think about Israel, Egypt, or the Middle East. Camp David reduced tensions and the threat of all-out war, but the underlying problems in the region continue to fester. From today's perspective, the Egypt-Israeli Peace Treaty looks less like a turning point than an important way station on a journey that has yet to end.
Quote: "President Abbas, you are our partner, and we are yours. We can and should make the breakthroughs", Israeli President Shimon Peres, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Jordan.
Number: 100, the number of Ultra-Orthodox recruits who took their IDF vows yesterday.
The Middle East
To Read: According to Turkish journalist Semih Idiz, Turkey’s recent restrictions on freedom of expression are a continuation of its undemocratic tradition-
These liberties include the freedom of expression, which Turkey has never been good at protecting. They also include respect for diversity, which Turkey has never been good at protecting either.
In the past, insulting the founder of the republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, could land you in jail. In the same way, lifestyles contrary to Kemalist paradigms were shunned by the ruling elite with scant regard to freedom of conscience. For example, religious women were legally prevented from going to university or working in state jobs because of their headscarves. But the tables are turning in Turkey.
Previously the law was used to protect secular idols. Today it is being used to protect religion and its idols. The basic instinct to restrict freedom of expression, when the subject matter is considered sacrosanct, remains. Under the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), freedom of expression is being increasingly restricted in the name of “protecting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.”
Quote: "Do you want us to abduct other Shalits? This is not part of our culture", PA President Mahmoud Abbas urging Israel to free its Palestinian prisoners at theWEF.
Number: 79, the low end estimated number of Hezbollah fighters killed in Qusayr.
The Jewish World
To Read: Yossi Beillin, architect of the Oslo agreements, shows his support for Sheldon Adelson’s contribution for birthright-
The fact that Sheldon Adelson — who is as far from me, ideologically speaking, as east is from west — decided to donate such a large amount to the project does not make Birthright a radical right-wing idea. It only proves that it is an idea that the various movements within Zionism and in the Jewish world see as an effective investment for strengthening one’s Jewish connection and relationship with Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu was the first prime minister to express governmental approval for the project. Ehud Barak was the first prime minister to approve an allocation of tens of millions of dollars for it, and I hope that anyone who leads the country in the future will continue to support it.
Quote: “Last Friday, I attended a speech by Minister Louis Farrakhan at Fellowship Chapel in Detroit, Michigan. During this speech, Minister Farrakhan made unacceptable racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic statements, which I condemn in the strongest possible terms”, John Conyers, the longest-serving African American serving in Congress, denouncing Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic rant.
Number: 25,000, the headcount for the Ultra-Orthodox ‘wedding of the decade’ (the Guardian has some nice pictures)