The Vienna Philharmonic, photo by Reuters
Headline: Obama Meets With Arab-Americans Ahead Of Mideast Trip
To Read: Leon Wieseltier sees parallels between Obama's current by standing in Syria and Clinton's inaction in Bosnia:
I am finding crushing parallels: a president who is satisfied to be a bystander, and ornaments his prevarications with high moral pronouncements; an extenuation of American passivity by appeals to insurmountable complexities and obscurities on the ground, and to ethnic and religious divisions too deep and too old to be modified by statecraft, and to ominous warnings of unanticipated consequences, as if consequences are ever all anticipated; an arms embargo against the people who require arms most, who are the victims of state power; the use of rape and torture and murder against civilians as open instruments of war; the universal knowledge of crimes against humanity and the failure of that knowledge to affect the policy-making will; the dailiness of the atrocity, its unimpeded progress, the long duration of our shame in doing nothing about it. The parallels are not perfect, of course. Only 70,000 people have been killed in Syria, so what’s the rush? Strategically speaking, moreover, the imperative to intervene in Syria is far more considerable than the imperative to intervene in Bosnia was. Assad is the client of Iran and the patron of Hezbollah: his destruction is an American dream. But his replacement by an Al Qaeda regime is an American nightmare, and our incomprehensible refusal to arm the Syrian rebels who oppose Al Qaeda even as they oppose Assad will have the effect of bringing the nightmare to pass. Secretary of State Kerry seems to desire a new Syrian policy, but he is busily giving our side in the conflict—if we are to have a side by the time this is over—everything but what it really needs.
Quote: “He announced before landing in Cairo that he comes to tell us to participate in the parliamentary elections, he came with the intention to tell Egyptians what they should do and we simply wanted to tell him that we are fed-up with the United States telling us what to do. We are telling Kerry that we will not accept orders or anything that looks like orders from anyone”, Hamdeen Sabahi, Egypt’s former presidential candidate and opposition leader, slams John Kerry's demands.
Number: 42, the percentage of Iraqis who feel more secure following the 2011 US withdrawal.
Headline: UN clears Israel of charge it killed baby in Gaza
To Read: Nahum Barnea believes that jealousy and ego are at the center of Netanyahu's momentous decision to oust Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin:
Netanyahu, like any prime minister, wants a Knesset speaker who will be loyal to him personally – more than he is loyal to the Knesset. As far as he is concerned, Rivlin worshiped the wrong god. His wife Sara, as expected, added fuel to the fire. She sat in the gallery during celebratory Knesset sessions and made remarks against Rivlin's tolerance toward her husband's rivals.
Netanyahu suspected that in the current Knesset, which will elect the next president, Rivlin will be even more attentive to every MK and every faction. Instead of paralyzing the opposition, he will let it operate freely. Thwarting Rivlin's re-election as Knesset speaker is also aimed at thwarting his election as president. Netanyahu could have forgiven Rivlin for the crime of decency, but he could not forgive him for being loved.
Quote: "We've seen a lot of pressure in the past few weeks. Entrepreneurs don't want to get stuck and not meet the deadlines presented to their clients. They're also afraid they won't be able to sell apartments. There's still very high demand in Judea and Samaria but already you can see doubts, and entrepreneurs understand that", A Samaria council member voices fears ahead of Obama's upcoming visit.
Number: 5-10%, the success rate of the Iron Dome missile system according to MIT professor and leading Missile expert Theodor Postol.
The Middle East
Headline: Syria rebels, army locked in combat in Homs, Damascus
To Read: According to Frank Salameh, Syria as we know it is a relatively new phenomenon:
Today a political order is needed to manage the multiple identities of the Middle East—Syria included. It must not impugn them, suppress them or pretend they don't exist. Orientalists, Arabists in particular, should stop railing against the pre-modern heritage of the region. They would serve their fields by admitting that tribal, sectarian, and ethnic identities matter in the Middle East, trump all others, and deserve consideration in any thoughtful reflection on the region’s troubles. Absent that, no sense of meaningful civic identities, or genuine "citizenship" can ever develop, and Syria will prove a mere passageway to the impending unraveling of other Middle Eastern states.
Quote: “in relation to what is allowed (halal) and what is forbidden (haram) we know that no unrelated women can be touched unless she is drowning at sea or needs (medical) treatment”, Hojat al-Islam Hossein Ibrahimi, member of Society of Militant Clergy of Tehran, criticizing the consolation hug given by Ahmedinijad to Hugo Chavez's mother.
Number: 86, the percentage of 2011 Palestinian exports that go to Israel.
The Jewish World
Headline: Vienna Philharmonic reveals new details about past Nazi ties
To Read: Alex Joffe sees AIPAC's pomp as a kind of celebration of the common Hebraic tradition at the core of both US and Israeli identities:
Equally significant is the systematic construction of a unique cross-cultural entity, a sense of shared American-Israeli peoplehood. No cause, force, or organization brings Americans, primarily Jews but also Christians, together like the cause of Israel as managed by AIPAC. It creates a fuzzy hybrid, a cultural, quasi-religious nationalism rooted in history.
Steny Hoyer articulated this with unusual clarity: “America’s ties with Israel run far deeper than matters of security and statecraft. The United States, a young nation, and Israel, heir to an ancient birthright, were founded on the same values. These are the principles of human dignity and basic justice first laid out in the Torah and embraced by America’s Founders. A line connects the wisdom of our shared scripture to the hearts and minds of those who wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and our Bill of Rights.”
The closing ceremony of the policy conference—the roll call, where attending U.S. senators and congressmen are presented to the delegates—enthusiastically weaves American institutions, American Jews, and Israel into a single entity with a shared destiny. This is a modernized, ecumenical version of the historic Congregationalist vision of America as the New Jerusalem, linked practically as well as theoretically to the Old Jerusalem, restored under the Jews.
Quote: "I am a secular woman but I sympathize with these women's struggle for freedom of expression and religion", Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg joining the struggle of the Women of the Wall.
Number: 13, the percentage of Hungarians aged 18-30 who can give a figure for the number of victims in the Holocaust.