Warren Buffett, photo by Reuters
Headline: Americans want U.S. to keep out of Syria conflict: poll
To Read: Jordan Michael Smith writes about the problematic American practice of federally funding NGOs which aim to promote democracy by undermining foreign regimes-
Yet the question emerges whether this is smart diplomacy for the United States at a time of upheaval around the world and powerful new developments in the global balance of power. Can Russia realistically be expected to cooperate with the West’s efforts to deal with Iran when its government is being openly undermined by the United States? How do Egyptians see it when Washington openly sides with certain factions in the midst of a low-level civil war? And in regions such as the Middle East that have experienced centuries of Western interference, how is American intervention perceived?
These questions don’t seem to get asked at the comfortable NED headquarters on F Street or the other major NGO offices throughout Washington—or their far-flung outposts around the world. But they are questions that yearn for answers as the world faces a future that many believe holds in store the reality of American decline. Whatever the merits of the prediction of American decline, it is certain that the country’s standing in the world will be challenged more severely in the future than it has been over the past seven decades. And the sprawling prodemocracy project of America’s NGOs could actually hamper its efforts to address those challenges.
Quote: “Our assistance to the Syrian opposition has been on an upward trajectory”, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden about US involvement in Syria.
Number: 1, the percentage of American Muslims who believe that violence is 'often justified'.
Headline: Buffett buys remainder of Israel’s Iscar for $2.05b
To Read: The Washington Institute's David Makovsky takes a look at the history of the Arab Peace initiative and explains why it hasn't brought about any major changes so far-
Despite its image as a foundational contribution to the Roadmap for Peace (2003) and the Annapolis Conference (2008), the API has failed to translate into an effective mechanism for Arab-Israeli peace.
Arabs blamed the Bush administration and Israeli government for API's lack of success, saying that they failed to take it seriously. Israelis were stung that the API had its inception on the same day an Israeli hotel was blown up during Passover, killing civilians -- a tragedy that was not even mentioned at the Beirut Arab League summit. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert did indeed praise the API, while Ariel Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu have been more hesitant in their support due to the reference to Resolution 194 and the call for full withdrawal on all fronts to the pre-1967 lines. At present, Israelis cannot foresee the feasibility, let alone the desirability, of withdrawing from the Golan Heights while civil war decimates Syria. Israel complains that the Arab League has never even sent a full delegation to Israel to discuss the API. And, of course, the regional upheaval in the Mideast that began in early 2011 has pushed the API further back in priorities since the early post-9/11 days. Moreover, the recent Arab League summit in March did not mention the idea of "normal relations," but did call for full withdrawal in return for peace. The summit opposed the idea that "Israel declare itself a Jewish state" and the Qatari leadership announced a contribution of $250 million toward a billion-dollar fund so that Jerusalem could retain its "Arab and Islamic identity."
Quote: "It is unusual, but Iscar is an exceptional company. When we invested in it, we knew we'd be very pleased by the results, because this is the right business, the right people, and the right country", Warren Buffett about his Iscar decision.
Number: 4.9%, the size of Israel's new record high deficit, announced by Yair Lapid yesterday.
The Middle East
Headline: Brahimi to quit as Syria peace envoy, diplomats say
To Read: An amazing comprehensive Pew poll examining attitudes in the Muslim world finds disturbing results on a wide range of issues-
A new Pew Research Center survey of Muslims around the globe finds that most adherents of the world’s second-largest religion are deeply committed to their faith and want its teachings to shape not only their personal lives but also their societies and politics. In all but a handful of the 39 countries surveyed, a majority of Muslims say that Islam is the one true faith leading to eternal life in heaven and that belief in God is necessary to be a moral person. Many also think that their religious leaders should have at least some influence over political matters. And many express a desire for sharia – traditional Islamic law – to be recognized as the official law of their country.
The percentage of Muslims who say they want sharia to be “the official law of the land” varies widely around the world, from fewer than one-in-ten in Azerbaijan (8%) to near unanimity in Afghanistan (99%). But solid majorities in most of the countries surveyed across the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia favor the establishment of sharia, including 71% of Muslims in Nigeria, 72% in Indonesia, 74% in Egypt and 89% in the Palestinian territories.
Quote: “This is not something new. The Arab delegation presented the official Palestinian position: Upon Israel’s unequivocal acceptance of the two-state solution on the 1967 borders, the State of Palestine as a sovereign country might consider minor agreed border modifications equal in size and quality, in the same geographic area, that do not harm Palestinian interests”, Chief Palestinian negotiator Sa'ed Erekat, is unexcited about the Arab Peace initiative.
Number: 40, the percentage of Palestinians who believe that suicide bombings are sometimes justified.
The Jewish World
Headline: Enlistment to IDF haredi program up 25%
To Read: Reform Rabbi Eric Yoffie is very impressed with Yair Lapid's tough stance on Ultra-Orthodox affairs-
But for the moment, as a longtime activist on the religious freedom front, I am optimistic. The great and glorious tradition that is Judaism will wither away if it is imposed upon us; it will survive and thrive only if we impose it upon ourselves. This is the foundational principle of modern Jewish life, and Mr. Lapid seems to understand it. If, building on a promising beginning, he becomes the advocate of Jewish tradition through choice in Israel, I am confident that the citizens of Israel and the Jews of the Diaspora will stand behind him and offer their support.
Quote: "The Jews have the greatest powers of sorcery, and they make use of this tool", Mehdi Taeb, Iranian leader and close friend to Khamenei sharing his thoughts.
Number: 95, the percentage of Jews in Arab countries who were displaced in the quarter century following the creation of the State of Israel.