John Kerry and Egyptian President Morsi
The Presidential Palace in Cairo, March 3rd, 2013
Photo by Reuters
Headline: U.S. quietly allows military aid to Egypt despite rights concerns
To Read: What do the Rice and Power appointments mean for Obama's foreign policy? Veteran foreign policy expert Adam Garfinkle admits that he doesn't know-
So what, if anything, does this musical-chairs episode mean for U.S. foreign policy in the second Obama Administration? The answer is that, absent inside information about the reasons for it—and I lack all such information—no one really knows. I make this point because our chatterati love to speculate about such things on the basis of logic. Who can blame them? I am about to do it, too, just for S’s and G’s. But the truth is that, once you’ve been on the inside and have actually seen how these kinds of decisions form and flow, you realize that logic is not a very reliable guide to knowledge. I have been present at the creation of a few such decisions, and when I read about them in the paper the next day or the next week, I have wondered if perhaps the reporter and I inhabited two different planets. Historians sometimes make the same assumption: that the most logical reason something happened is ipso facto the actual reason why it happened. Well, they do the best they can, at least when they have no axes to grind. But that is rare: “History is a discipline of aggregate bias”, wrote Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction (1971), and even though he’s just a novelist, that doesn’t prevent him from being occasionally right.
Quote: “[Power] is well-qualified for this important position and I hope the Senate will move forward on her nomination as soon as possible”, John McCain showing his support for the Samantha Power nomination.
Number: 9, the number of points Obama's approval rating has dropped among independent voters in the past couple of months.
Headline: US urges Syria, Israel to safeguard long-held ceasefire
To Read: According to Nadav Perry, while Netanyahu's coalition is 'dysfunctional', at least his rivals are doing worse than he is and he remains in power-
Netanyahu does not live in a dream world. He knows that the rules of the game have changed and that the efficient intimacy of his previous government is long gone. However, he takes solace in two things. One — with each successive day — both Lapid and Bennett, who until recently were “the new politicians,” are becoming bogged down in reality and becoming “old politicians”; the second — and most important — is that he remains the prime minister.
Quote: “I have been instructed to write to you and, in response to your latest letter of 14 May 2013, re-affirm my intention to continue our close and fruitful dialogue”, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Eviatar Manor, informing of Israel's plans to resume its ties with the UN's controversial body.
Number: 20,000, the number of foreign tourists who are expected to attend today's pride parade in Tel Aviv.
The Middle East
Headline: Erdogan calls for end to Turkey protest
To Read: Charles Krauthammer believes that the fall of Qusayr exemplifies what is at stake for the US (as a global power) in Syria-
Just to make sure Kerry understood his place, Putin kept him waiting outside his office for three hours. The Russians know how to send messages. And the one from Qusair is this. You’re fighting for your life. You have your choice of allies: Obama bearing “international legitimacy” and a risible White House statement that “Hezbollah and Iran should immediately withdraw their fighters from Syria” or Putin bearing Russian naval protection, Iranian arms shipments and thousands of Hezbollah fighters. Which do you choose?
Quote: "Austria has been a backbone of the mission, and their withdrawal will impact the mission's operational capacity", U.N. spokeswoman Josephine Guerrero, commenting about Austria's decision to withdraw its UN force from the Golan Heights.
Number: 19.8, the percentage of the world's Muslims who live in the Middle East.
The Jewish World
Headline: Rabbis: Protest against Women of Wall
To Read: Jonathan Sacks writes about the difference between the power of the kings and the influence of the prophets-
So deep is the difference that the Torah allocates them to two distinct leadership roles: king and prophet. Kings had power. They could levy taxes, conscript people to serve in the army, and decide when and against whom to wage war. They could impose non-judicial punishments to preserve social order. Hobbes famously called kingship a “Leviathan” and defined it in terms of power. The very nature of the social contract, he argued, was the transfer of power from individuals to a central authority. Without this, there could be no government, no defence of a country and no safeguard against lawlessness and anarchy.
Prophets, by contrast, had no power at all. They commanded no armies. They levied no taxes. They spoke God’s word, but had no means of enforcing it. All they had was influence – but what influence! To this day, Elijah’s fight against corruption, Amos’ call to social justice, Isaiah’s vision of the end of days, are still capable of moving us by the sheer force of their inspiration. Who, today, is swayed by the lives of Ahab or Jehoshaphat or Jehu? When a king dies, his power ends. When a prophet dies, his influence begins.
Quote: "The Western Wall serves as a place to pray for countless Jews. But it also serves as a powerful focus of national Jewish yearning and aspiration, quite apart from religious belief. Somehow, both have to be satisfied, and that is what his plan would try to do, embodying the key Jewish and democratic values of mutual respect, inclusion and tolerance. Sharansky and the Government of Israel should be commended for engaging in this ambitious effort to resolve such a difficult problem", a group of LA Rabbis from different denominations supporting the Kotel compromise.
Number: 0, the amount of soap bars made from Jews during the holocaust, according to filmmaker Eyal Ballas.