Senator John McCain at the Turkey-Syrian border
Photo by Reuters
Headline: Sen. John McCain makes surprise visit to Syria to meet rebels
To Read: Our Israel Factor panelist Eytan Gilboa thinks that the US' failure to rekindle the Israeli-Palestinian peace process signifies its diminishing status in the region-
Kerry threatens that in case the sides do not resume talks he would introduce a new American peace plan. All previous American peace initiatives have failed. Examples include the Johnson plan of 1967; Rogers in 1969; Carter in 1977; Reagan in 1982 and 1988 and Clinton in 2000. The reason for these failures was simple: The Americans presented balanced plans that demanded concessions from both sides, but each side focused on the concessions it was asked to make and ignored the benefits it would reap. The only processes that yield any results emanated from the region itself - such as the peace treaty with Egypt and the Oslo Accords.
In the past American threats carried weight, because the peace plans were accompanied by a threat that those who reject or undermine the initiatives would bear the responsibility and be penalized. Today the Obama administration is perceived as being weak, so the threat is not treated with the same seriousness. Obama wasn't even able to convince Abbas to withdraw his demand for a settlement construction freeze before negotiations with Israel are resumed, and he also failed to persuade Turkish PM Erdogan to cancel his plan to visit Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Quote: “We have to be clear that we don’t want this economic peace. We are not animals that only want food. We are a people struggling for freedom”, Abdallah Abdallah, a senior Fatah official, criticizing John Kerry's recent Palestinian initiative.
Number: 450, the number of people killed in Iraq in May, the deadliest month since US troops left in December 2011.
Headline: PM to Ya'alon: Don't delay haredi conscription bill
To Read: Akiva Eldar reveals and discusses a new poll which shows that the Israeli public might very well be in favor of the Arab peace initiative-
The findings of the poll, being published here for the first time, indicate that Netanyahu cannot claim he lacks a mandate from Israel’s public. According to the poll, commissioned by the Israeli Peace Initiative organization, once the principles of the Arab Initiative were explained to them, 55% of the people interviewed said they would support it to some degree. Only 27% ''strongly oppose'' the initiative, while 17.5% of them answered that they ''don't know" once the fundamentals of the Initiative were presented to them. But in response to another question — what their position will be if Netanyahu adopts the Arab Initiative and reaches a final status agreement with the Arab states — the number of supporters soared to 69%. The interesting finding regarding this question is that only 18% continued to ''strongly oppose'' the initiative (revealing that nine percent of those interviewed changed their minds in favor of the initiative between the two questions).
Quote: "Hezbollah possesses weapons to hit any point in Israel", former FM and current Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avigdor Liberman giving a dramatic warning.
Number: 900, the number of Israeli electric car drivers who will be left without charging stations as Israel's 'Better Place' electric car venture plunders into liquidation.
The Middle East
Headline: EU arms embargo on Syrian opposition not extended
To Read: The Washington Institute's Mehdi Khalaji believes that whatever the outcome of Iran's upcoming elections, Khamenei will be its big loser-
Indeed, disqualifying Rafsanjani will likely impose a heavy cost on both Khamenei and the regime, comparable to the 1989 dismissal of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, deputy of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Both Montazeri and Rafsanjani became critics of the Supreme Leader despite being considered founding fathers of the Islamic Republic. Khamenei's circle could have handled the matter in a much smoother way, perhaps praising Rafsanjani for offering to run while claiming that the nation could not ask so much of a seventy-nine-year-old man who had already sacrificed a great deal for the country. As usual, however, they opted for brute force instead.
Quote: "I think only 5% of the battalions are against the Islamic vision. Ahrar al-Sham are a mixture of Islamists and people who like Allah so we are not sure about their vision. We are very clear as the Prophet, peace be upon him, made it very clear to us. Other groups have good beliefs but we are the only committed ones", from an interesting interview with a Jabhat al-Nusra fighter.
Number: 5000, the number of Hezbollah troops currently in Syria, according to Salman Shaikh, director of the Doha Center of the Brookings Institution think tank.
The Jewish World
Headline: Amid controversy, Foreign Ministry kicks off anti-Semitism conference
To Read: Forward's Josh Nathan Kazis reports on Chabad's upcoming leadership decisions-
The top echelons of the Chabad movement are on the verge of a once-in-a-generation leadership transition.
The Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement never replaced its spiritual leader, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, after he died in 1994 at the age of 92. Yet a coterie of gray-bearded rabbis picked by Schneerson continues to run the movement from its headquarters on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway, sending thousands of missionaries to outposts around the world and providing services for its growing base of followers.
Quote: “I’m mortified, I’m absolutely mortified- To say that the whole homosexualization of society is largely due to a relatively few Jews is a very dangerous exaggeration”, Rabbi Yehuda Levin, spokesman for the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the U.S. and Canada, giving an especially enlightened response to Biden's controversial speech.
Number: 10,000, the prize money Israeli writer Amos Oz will receive for winning the prestigious Franz Kafka Literary prize.