To Read: Jennifer Rubin believes that while Obama's Middle East cant has improved, his actions haven't:
The message all this sends to Syria’s patron, Iran, is simple: The United States won’t act. What the Israelis see is that if the United States is so unwilling to take on Syria and would allow such regional instability and humanitarian suffering, what chance is there that Obama would act to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapons capability? You see why Israelis don’t really feel like Obama has their back.
Quote: “Each country has to make its own decisions when it comes to the awesome decision to engage in any kind of military action. And Israel is differently situated than the United States”, President Obama talks nuclear Iran in Israel.
Number: 64, the percentage of Americans who believe preventing a nuclear Iran is more important than avoiding military conflict.
To Read: Veteran war correspondent Ron Ben Yishai thinks that Obama's plans for Israel are much more far reaching than most people think:
Obama's first visit to the Holy Land as president will most likely be hailed as a great success by the media, if only because Obama, Netanyahu and to some extent Abbas have an interest in using each other to cover up the failures and political humiliations they have recently suffered in the domestic arena. But this visit also has a very important practical aspect to it: The American president is no longer playing the role of Uncle Sam who offers presents to children; this time he will demand that Israel and the Palestinians help him implement his government's new strategy in the Middle East.
Quote: "Israel remains fully committed to peace and a solution for two states for two people", PM Netanyahu at yesterday's press-conference.
Number: 5, the number of Qassam rockets fired at Israel's south from Gazathis morning during the Obama visit.
The Middle East
To Read: FP's David Kenner expects the Syrian crisis to have a dramatic long lasting impact on the whole Middle East::
There are many views of how to respond to the Syrian crisis, but there should be little doubt that whatever the world does, Syria will shape the Middle East for years to come. Just like Iraq, the war has opened sectarian wounds throughout the region: In Lebanon, the Shiite militant party Hezbollah has joined the war on the side of Assad, while Sunni groups have crossed the border to assist the rebels -- and both expect the war's outcome to determine the balance of power in Beirut. In Iraq, the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, has allowed Iranian planes bearing weapons for Assad to routinely fly across Iraqi airspace -- Iraqi Sunni militants, meanwhile, have provided assistance to the Syrian revolt and even killed 48 Syrian soldiers on Iraqi soil in early March.
Syria's disintegration will do more than exacerbate the Sunni-Shiite rivalry. In the north, the Kurdish community looks poised to carve out a de facto autonomous area, from which it could struggle for power with Arab anti-Assad rebels or even launch attacks into Turkey. In the south, the rebels' four-day kidnapping of 21 U.N. peacekeepers has raised the possibility that the lightly armed U.N. force that has helped keep on the peace on the Golan Heights for four decades could withdraw -- a move that could open the doors to Israeli intervention. And of course, radical Islamist groups such as the al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, which have already gained control of large swathes of territory and heavy weaponry, could maintain these safe havens in the chaos of Assad's fall. That would likely bring the war on terror to Damascus's doorstep.
Quote: “I’ve met him twice... and he struck me as more Texan than Muslim Brotherhood, frankly" US Envoy to Syria about the new Syrian interim opposition government PM.
Number: 300, the number of employees in the CIA's counter-terrorism center on the day of 9/11.
The Jewish World
To Read: According to Judaism scholar Mark Shapiro, a Jesuit pope should be a reason for Jewish optimism-
While anti-Jewish prejudice is an unfortunate part of Jesuit history that can’t be overlooked, this is not the whole story by any means. There were always Jesuits who carried the spirit of Ignatius and fought against the prejudice that many of their brothers had succumbed to. It was none other than a German Jesuit, Augustin Bea, who played a central, indeed crucial role in the release of Nostra Aetate in 1965, which set the church firmly against anti-Semitism and inaugurated a new era in Catholic-Jewish relations. Bea’s spirit of tolerance now characterizes the order as a whole, and Jesuits take a leading role in Catholic-Jewish dialogue. While Vatican II had as one of its goals ending anti-Jewish prejudice among Catholics, it is worth noting that, as an Internet search will illustrate, a good deal of contemporary rabid anti-Catholic sentiment focuses on the Jesuits, seeing them as in alliance with, or even controlled by, the Jews.
Quote: “I know that in stepping foot on this land, I walk with you on the historic homeland of the Jewish people”, another Obama quote from yesterday.
Number: 7, the number of looted paintings returned to their Jewish owners in a ceremony on Tuesday in France.