Syrian leader Ahmed Moaz el-Khatib , photo by Reuters
* In the next few days we will be taking a Passover break and there will be no H&Rs.
Headline: Top U.S. diplomat Kerry asks Iraq to stop arms to Syria
To Read: English Professor Elizabeth Samet explores the idea and the supposed impact of veterans running foreign policy:
The appeal to combat experience might prove rhetorically expedient, especially for a president who represents a party reflexively charged since the Vietnam War with being soft on defense issues. But the sentimental currency of this argument seems far more transparent than its intellectual significance. Made during wartime, the allusion to concrete experience tends to carry a talismanic force that wards off explanation or examination. Because this won’t be the last time such a claim is made on behalf of a candidate or nominee for political office, it is worthwhile trying to figure out more precisely what the ritual invocation of military service might mean.
Quote: "We have to keep working at this. We’ve just begun those discussions. I wouldn’t characterize them in any way except open, candid, and a good beginning", John Kerry summarizing the President's Middle East visit.
Number: 65, the percentage of Americans who are in favor of using drone attacks against terrorists in other countries.
Headline: Erdogan: Normalization depends on Israel's actions
To Read: Michael J. Koplow examines the timing of the Israel-Turkey reconciliation:
It has been clear for some time that Israel was willing to make an apology to Turkey, but less clear whether Turkey would accept it. Now that election season is over in Israel, Netanyahu no longer has to worry about nationalist criticism over repairing ties with Turkey, and the temporary exclusion of former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman from the cabinet removed the biggest obstacle to reconciliation on the Israeli side. But the politics in Turkey are a different story. The Palestinian issue has made Israel deeply unpopular there, and the feud has been politically valuable for Erdogan, who has been able to blast Israel any time he has wanted to divert attention away from sensitive domestic issues. Last month, for example, Turkish headlines were dominated by the government’s negotiations with Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). When Erdogan publically called Zionism a crime against humanity, he chased the talks right off the front pages.
Given these domestic political benefits, Ankara has had little reason to reconcile with Israel until now. This week’s news, however, signals that Turkey has finally come to realize that it has more to lose than to gain from turning a cold shoulder to Israel. This is largely because Turkey can use Israel’s help on its most pressing foreign policy dilemma, the Syrian civil war, and on its top economic concern, energy security.
Quote: "I can think of one thousand reasons why Turkey and Israel should be friends and I cannot find one reason why they shouldn't be", President Peres talking with with Turkish media.
Number: 75, the approval rating of outgoing Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, apparently the most popular politician in Israel.
The Middle East
Headline: Leader of Western-backed Syria rebel coalition resigns
To Read: Paul Salem warns of the rapidly spiraling situation in Lebanon:
The resignation of Lebanon’s prime minister, Najib Mikati, was the result of intensifying pressure between the pro-Assad and anti-Assad camps in Lebanon and the region. At a minimum, it ushers in a period of further drift and weakening of the country’s political and security institutions. At worst, it might herald a serious entry of the Syrian conflict into Lebanon, a showdown between the country’s factions, and challenges to its basic constitutional order.
Quote: "I announce my resignation from the National Coalition, so that I can work with a freedom that cannot possibly be had in an official institution", Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Moaz el-Khatib announcing his resignation.
Number: 160, the number of secret cargo flights which have brought military equipment to Syrian rebels through the support of the CIA.
The Jewish World
Headline: Spanish parties call Holocaust remembrance ‘propaganda’
To Read: Maud Newton writes about Christian Bar-Mitzvahs and the possibly over-ardent Christian fundamentalist interest in the Jewish people:
Most modern-day Protestant fundamentalists believe that the Jews are (at least until Jesus’ return) God’s chosen people. If Christ himself was Jewish, and followed Jewish tradition, the thinking goes, why shouldn’t Christians consider the ways their savior actually lived and practice the rituals he practiced? Many evangelicals have traded contempt of the past for a respectful, almost fetishistic view of Jews and, now, Jewish tradition. What this means in practice is extremely complicated. There’s a big difference between building bridges across cultures to foster understanding and building bridges so you can run across and ransack the other side.
Quote: “I wrote a letter to him saying that this would be like playing a police ball in Johannesburg the day after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960. It wouldn’t be a great thing to do, particularly as he was meant to be a UN ambassador for peace”, Pink Floyd front-man Roger Waters telling how he dissuaded Stevie Wonder from playing at a Friends of the IDF gala.
Number: 20,000, the estimated number of Jews who live in East Asia.