To Read: Elliot Abrams gives his reading of Obama's big speech:
Obama was most persuasive when discussing American-Israeli bonds, and least persuasive in his descriptions of the Arab Middle East. In his remarks today he pictured an Arab world, and a Palestinian political system, yearning for peace with Israel through negotiated compromises. This ignores the vast ocean of anti-Semitism in the Arab world, and the inculcation of hatred of Jews and Israel in generation after generation of Arabs—including Palestinians. And it ignores the rising tide of Islamism in the region, which threatens to engulf all those political figures who would really like a compromise peace. The Arab world Obama described is a place far more desirous of, and far closer to, peace with Israel than the one Israelis actually see around them.
Quote: “Put yourself in their shoes — look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents, every single day. It is not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or to displace Palestinian families from their homes", President Obama talking peace in Jerusalem yesterday.
Number: 2, the percentage of Palestinians who view Obama favorably.
To Read: A WSJ editorial reminds us that while Obama was talking and being hopeful yesterday in Israel, the Palestinian streets were filled with rage :
On the streets of Ramallah, meanwhile, protestors gathered to denounce America—"the head of the snake"—and Mr. Abbas, too. "The people want RPGs, not [security] coordination with the CIA," said one demonstrator quoted in the Times of Israel. If "peace begins in the heart of people," as Mr. Obama told his audience in Jerusalem, the feeling seems dispiritingly absent among too many Palestinians. At least Mr. Obama's Israeli audience gave him a rousing ovation.
History shows that a generation of militants can give way to a generation of pacifists. It happened in Germany and Japan, and nobody should give up hope that such a change will eventually come to Palestinians, whenever they tire of nationalist or religious slogans. Until then, Israel will have to negotiate as best it can with eyes firmly on its security. Mr. Obama's best intentions can't deliver peace until enough Palestinians decide they want it too.
Quote: "But make no mistake: those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist might as well reject the earth beneath them and the sky above, because Israel is not going anywhere" Obama during yesterday's speech.
Number: 2, the percentage of Jewish Israelis who view PA President Mahmud Abbas favorably.
The Middle East
To Read: Hassan Hassan writes about the ties between the new Syrian interim opposition PM and the Muslim Brotherhood:
Hitto is not known to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but he is ideologically close to it. A Syrian close to Hitto told me that he is “100% supported and trusted by the Brotherhood.” His brother is a member who was jailed for many years, his acquaintance said, which is why Hitto fled Syria. The source located Hitto in terms of independence somewhere between Moaz al-Khatib, the coalition’s president who proved to be independent, and the Brotherhood. Hitto is one of very few opposition figures who were involved in groundwork inside Syria after the uprising, distributing aid to people in various areas. He is also well-spoken in both Arabic and English. But his appointment appears to be based on a key credential: his consistent rejection of dialogue with the regime, a policy advocated by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies Qatar and Turkey.
Quote: "I swear to the Syrian people that your blood, and that of your grandson and all the martyrs of the homeland, will not be spilled in vain because we will be faithful to your ideas by destroying their extremism and ignorance until we have cleansed the country", Bashar Assad responding to a massive suicide bombing in Syria which killed 40, in incuding a leading pro-regime cleric.
Number: 2, the percentage of Palestinians who view Benjamin Netnyahu favorably.
The Jewish World
To Read: Rabbi Shlomo Brody muses about the problematic Passover tradition of rejoicing in the fall of one's enemies:
While this prayer has undergone many historical variations, in its current form it beseeches, "May all wickedness perish in an instant. May all your people's enemies swiftly be cut down." The text, to my mind, combines both idealism and realism. Above all, we desire the end of wickedness, and our wish is that this could be achieved entirely through the repentance of the wicked. But if this does not happen, it would be best for evildoers to be uprooted from the earth, so that we can celebrate a world cleansed of the vices they represent.
This is not a risk-free position. Celebrating the death of evildoers while maintaining proper intent is difficult to achieve, leaving the door open for a self-righteousness that can weaken moral discretion and even lead to fundamentalism. While staying as far from that door as we can, we should remain aware that Passover teaches the importance of drowning evil. We affirm the Divine image in all human beings and hope they will use that potential for good. Yet we also remember that justice is necessary to bring redemption to the world and that this goal, alas, sometimes requires ten deadly plagues.
Quote: “Twitter is playing the indifference card and does not respect the ruling. They have resolved to protect the anonymity of the authors of these tweets and have made themselves accomplices to racists and anti-Semites”, Jonathan Hayoun, President of the Union of Jewish French Students, stating the organization's reason for suing Twitter for $50m.
Number: $13m, the amount of money new Israeli minister of finance Yair Lapid transferred to Holocaust survivors in his first order in his new position.