President Obama waves as he prepares to depart the White House – he is heading to Chicago where he will attend a campaign event for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Il, and deliver remarks on the economy at Northwestern University
President Obama Talks to Thomas L. Friedman About Iraq, Putin and Israel
President Obama’s hair is definitely grayer these days, and no doubt trying to manage foreign policy in a world of increasing disorder accounts for at least half of those gray hairs. (The Tea Party can claim the other half.) But having had a chance to spend an hour touring the horizon with him in the White House Map Room late Friday afternoon, it’s clear that the president has a take on the world, born of many lessons over the last six years, and he has feisty answers for all his foreign policy critics.
Obama made clear that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that the different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished. The United States is not going to be the air force of Iraqi Shiites or any other faction. Despite Western sanctions, he cautioned, President Vladimir Putin of Russia “could invade” Ukraine at any time, and, if he does, “trying to find our way back to a cooperative functioning relationship with Russia during the remainder of my term will be much more difficult.” Intervening in Libya to prevent a massacre was the right thing to do, Obama argued, but doing it without sufficient follow-up on the ground to manage Libya’s transition to more democratic politics is probably his biggest foreign policy regret.
This made me smile – Knoller has been getting epic push-back on Twitter in recent days for his shilling, and his obsession with the President’s vacation. So much so, he now has an army of Teabaggers following him (just check any of the comments under his tweets). So, maybe the pressure actually left him feeling obliged to tweet at least one bit of honesty:
Pete Souza: “The President, in the process of saluting, participates in a ceremony at Dover Air Force Base for the dignified transfer of U.S. and Afghan personnel who died in Afghanistan a few days earlier. Many family members and friends of the special forces who died in this incident requested a copy of the photograph and later wrote me how much it meant to them.” Aug. 9, 2011
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On This Day – Pete Souza: “We were walking through a locker room at the University of Texas when White House Trip Director Marvin Nicholson stopped to weigh himself on a scale. Unbeknownst to him, the President was stepping on the back of the scale, as Marvin continued to slide the scale lever. Everyone but Marvin was in on the joke.” Aug. 9, 2010
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MoooOOOooorning everyone! Another rushed R&S, will try to catch up through the day.
This essay will require a bit of explanation of the term “messiah”.
Living in a predominantly Christian nation, many of us have a particular notion of the “Messiah”. That messiah, hammered into us in Sunday school and Mass, was Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, coequal with God, coeternal, of the same substance, incarnating in human flesh to offer the perfect sacrifice to atone for Adam’s sin. In the Christian conception, the Messiah was the willing sacrifice to reconcile sinful mankind with God.
However, it may surprise you to know, that Jesus was a Jew. He lived in a Jewish culture, believed in a Jewish eschatology, did not want to change a “jot of the Law”. And Judaism has a very different view of the Messiah.
A quick and dirty precis of Jewish views of the Messiah follows.
We’re not all terrorists, we’re not “cockroaches,” and we’re certainly not an “invented” people. What you don’t know about Palestinians.
Palestine. My late father, Abdul Musa Obeidallah, was born there in the 1930s. When I say Palestine, that’s not a political statement. It’s just a statement of fact. When he was born, there was no state of Israel. There was no Hamas. No PLO. There were just people of different faiths living together on the same small piece of land called Palestine.
….. Most of my Palestinian ancestors lived and died within a few miles of where they were born. That would likely have been my father’s path as well. But as we are all keenly aware, fate had far different plans.
I share this story because I think that lost in the current Gaza conflict is the story of the Palestinians as a people. Instead, they’ve been continually defined as being the “bad” part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They’ve been broadly labeled as terrorists or seen as acceptable losses. Some Israeli leaders have alleged Palestinians don’t exist, or called them “cockroaches,” “crocodiles,” or a “cancer.”….
….. when I was about 9 years old in the late 1970s, my teacher [in New Jersey] asked about the ethnicity of each student so she could pin it on a map of the world. When she came to me, she was stumped—she didn’t know much about Palestinians, and of course she couldn’t find it on the map since it wasn’t there….
Later that night, I relayed that story to my father and asked him: “Where is Palestine?” He paused for a moment as he gathered his thoughts. He then touched his heart and head and responded: “In here.”….
A couple of articles I thought were worth posting, the one above is as poignant and beautiful as I’ve ever read about Palestine, its history and its people – Obeidallah’s memory of his teacher not being able to find Palestine on the map, and his father’s reaction, beyond heartbreaking.