President Barack Obama has arrived in Jerusalem, greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres in a rare state visit.
While the White House has been tamping down expectations of a renewed peace process, a debate has been underway in Israel: Are secularist politicians or religious leaders most capable of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? One who argued for Jewish and Muslim religious leaders to come to the negotiating table was Menachem Froman, who died last week. Froman, also known as “the white rabbi,” lived in the Jewish settlement of Tekoa in the West Bank (historic home to the prophet Amos). “Why do I support peace between the religious so much? Because that’s realistic. It’s possible to sweep dust under the rug, but you cannot sweep a tiger under the rug—Islam is a tiger,” he once said.
Haaretz is livebloging the president’s Middle East visit, which will be highlighted by his speech Thursday to students at the Jerusalem Convention Center.
A new proposal by Obama on Iranian nuclear enrichment, a key topic during his visit, is “in direct violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions dating back as far as 2006, but it also serves as another unreported and dangerous sign of his foreign policy of appeasement,” writes former U.S. UN spokesman Richard Grenell. The proposal, largely unreported in U.S. media, would allow Iran to enrich some uranium. In the words of Madhi Mohammadi, an advisor to Iran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, “They expected Iran to change, but in practice, it was the United States which changed.”
Obama’s trip comes amid new reports of a possible chemical weapons attack in Syria near Aleppo. Confirmation of such an attack represents a “red line” Obama has said would necessitate U.S. intervention. Adm. James Stavridis, commander of U.S. European Command, toldthe Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, “We are prepared if called upon to be engaged.”
Baghdad residents are reeling from suicide bomb blasts that killed more than 60 yesterday, marking the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The attacks included more than a dozen bombs in Shiite neighborhoods likely from al-Qaeda linked militants.
Fouad Ajami recites the credible history of how Iraq began as an honorable war with wide support. The Washington Post’s list of 10 great books on the war is heavy on Western reporters with axes to grind and misses two key books: The Foreigner’s Gift by Ajami and The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace by Ali A. Allawi, the former Iraqi prime minister.
Muslim gunmen killed five Christians attending a funeral in northern Nigeria, including a 6-month-old baby and 13-year-old girl.
Activism and fundraising on behalf of jailed Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini continue—with a new website selling #SaveSaeed wristbands. Last week Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, made an emotional appearance at a packed congressional hearing and later met with State Department officials to press for release of her husband, who has been sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran.
Banks and markets in Cyprus remain closed today, as lawmakers and regulators continue to try to finesse a bailout plan to save Cyprus from financial ruin without raiding individual bank deposits. Both the euro and U.S. dollar are down, as Cypriot and EU officials look to Russia for possible aid.
Chinese officials have revealed that they have killed 336 million babies through abortions since 1971—a number equivalent to the 2012 U.S. population.
Breaking: FBI agents in New York are reporting the arrest on conspiracy charges of Spin Ghul, identified as an al-Qaeda operative, for plotting to bomb U.S. diplomatic facilities in Nigeria and U.S. troops in Afghanistan.