–In the hour-long interview Peres was asked about the Middle East peace process, Iran, the kidnapping, his relationship with past US presidents and with former Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Benjamin Netanyahu. On Hamas: “What the hell do they want? … Israel has an advantage over Hamas. We carry the future. They don’t carry the future, they carry bombs and they will not win.” Rose asked Peres what was his biggest regret? Peres nodded with his head back and forth, “I don’t pay attention to the past. You can’t change the past. So why waste time thinking about it?” Proudest moment: “The one that will happen tomorrow.” What would you write in the first paragraph of your own obituary, if asked? “I never thought about that. I’m not in a hurry.” You have lunch every week with PM Netanyahu? “No. We would become fat.” On popularity: “Polls are like perfume: nice to smell, dangerous to swallow.” Trust Obama? “Personally, I have no reason to doubt his commitments.”
#BRINGBACKOUR BOYS – DAY 17: On the 17th day since the kidnapping of the three Israeli boys, tens of thousands gathered in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv for a special event titled “singing together for their return.” Iris Yifrach, the mother of abducted Eyal, spoke about her longing for her son. “Thanks to your non-stop giving, the entire people is united, loves you and cares about your well-being,” she stated. “We are waiting to embrace you warmly. It is extremely excited to see the people united. This complex period strengthens and embraces us. We pray for the return of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali. You give us strength.” “The thin wires of pain hold us so we don’t fall,” Bat-Galim Sha’ar stated painfully. “Gilad, I want to tell you that we are not alone. There are people waiting for you, wanting to hug you and who pray for you.” Rachel Frenkel, Naftali’s mother, added: “The boys are not a bargaining tool in the conflict. We call on those that know something, Abu Mazen and the Mayor of Hebron, to put the release of the boys over the conflict between us.” Israeli President-elect Reuben Rivlin, Israeli Chief Rabbi David Lau, Health Minister Yael German, as well as numerous Knesset members took part. [Jerusalem Online]
TOP-OP: Thomas Friedman – “Arsonists and Firefighters – Who Is Setting the Sectarian Fires in the Middle East”: “WHAT’S the real fight in the Middle East today? Is it just sectarian (Sunnis versus Shiites) and national (Israelis versus Palestinians and Arabs versus Persians)? Or is it something deeper? I was discussing this core question with Nader Mousavizadeh, a former senior United Nations official and the co-founder of Macro Advisory Partners, a geopolitical advisory firm, and he offered another framework: “The real struggle in the region,” he said, “is between arsonists and firefighters.” To be sure, he added, the sectarian divides are real, but it is “not inevitable” that the region erupt in sectarian conflagration. It takes arsonists to really get these sectarian fires blazing, and, “unless they set them and fan them and give them fuel,” they will more often than not die out.
The Palestinian extremists who recently kidnapped three Israeli youths were arsonists, aiming to blow up any hope of restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to embarrass Palestinian moderates. But they had help. Radical Jewish settler supporters in the Israeli cabinet, like Naftali Bennett and housing minister Uri Ariel, are arsonists. Ariel deliberately announced plans to build 700 new housing units for Jews in Arab East Jerusalem — timed to torpedo Secretary of State John Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy. And they did… There are firefighters in all these places — people like Tzipi Livni and Shimon Peres in Israel, former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Mohammad Javad Zarif in Iran and Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Iraq — but they are now overwhelmed by the passions set loose by the arsonists.
To be sure, harmony between different sects requires order, but it does not have to be iron-fisted. Iraqis just last April held fair elections on their own. They can do it. These societies need to go from being governed by iron fists “to iron institutions that are legitimate, inclusive and accountable, and strong enough to hold the frame of society together,” argued Mousavizadeh… That requires the right leadership. “So when the region’s leaders come to Washington to plead for engagement and intervention, ask for money or ask for arms,” he added, “Let them first answer the question: Are you an arsonist or are you a firefighter?” [NYTimes]
Hoenlein Waiting For An Official Apology From The African Union For Kicking A Jewish Delegation Out Of Their Conference: The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said it was waiting for an official apology from the African Union after several delegates to a summit held by the continental body demanded that the Jewish representatives not be allowed to attend. Hoenlein, ofMalcolm the Conference of Presidents, and his compatriots left the opening ceremony two hours earlier than scheduled after Egyptian and South African delegates refused to enter the hall while those they termed “Israelis” were still present.
— An AU organizer told Hoenlein of the objections, and Hoenlein told him that it would be “outrageous” to complain about an Israeli delegation.. “We were not asked to leave, we were told the problem and then we made the decision that we weren’t going to abide the insults to Israel and the insults to the Jewish community,” Hoenlein told The Jerusalem Post. “We were all official delegates and there wasn’t a question of our status. We were invited into the session.. We have sent letters to some of the presidents in regards to the behavior of members of their delegation… We will be in touch with the AU leadership and hopefully get some letters of apologies and embarrassment… Many delegates walked over to us to recognize us.. So I am very optimistic about that.” [Jpost]
Dermer’s Diplomatic Passover Seder Still A Secret! The Foreign Ministry has refused to reveal the guest list for the second Passover seder meal held at the house of Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer – an event attended by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The ministry’s explanation was that revealing the list would cause damage to Israel. “The Foreign Ministry is prohibited from providing the information in question, under article 9(A)(1) of the freedom of information law,” read the letter, signed by Aryeh Zini, the official responsible for implementing the law in the Foreign Ministry. “Being hosted in the home of an ambassador, not to mention the home of the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., is a distinctly diplomatic act. Publicly revealing the names of participants, as well as the content of their meeting and correspondence related to it, as well as anything else stemming from the meeting, could cause harm to Israel’s foreign relations.” [Haaretz]
INSIDE BUSH’S CLOSET: “Jeff Berkowitz was in his RNC office in February 2004 when Bush first backed the amendment banning gay marriage during a White House speech. “This was something I didn’t agree with and didn’t know was coming,” he says now. He sat at his desk for what felt like an hour thinking: “What do I do? Do I resign in protest? What was the point? I wasn’t on the reelect because I thought Bush was good on marriage equality. It was because he was going to kill terrorists and was good on economic issues.” Besides, Berkowitz believed Bush’s Democratic rival John Kerry, who did not, in fact, support gay marriage in that campaign, was no better on gay rights… [Politico]
TWEET OF THE DAY: @CoryBooker: When they started playing Hava Nagilah I just had to dance so I grabbed the Mayor of Fort Lee & The Rabbi. Pic:
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