Posted by Joshua on Thursday, April 15th, 2010
In a victory for President Barack Obama’s efforts to engage Syria diplomatically, a key US Senate committee has approved the nomination of veteran diplomat Robert Ford to be ambassador to Damascus.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where the nomination encountered no significant resistance in a hearing last month, approved the choice in a voice vote on Tuesday. It was unclear when the full Senate, which must confirm US ambassadors, would take up the matter.
Economy: State Department Eases Travel to the US for Syrian Nationals (Syria Report)
Travel to the United States should be easier for Syrians after a number of measures were announced by thse State Department and the US Embassy in Damascus. Read
“I just experienced this firsthand. I’m applying for a US visa and the form DS-157 (which has an extra 10 pages that only nationals of the 5 “evil” countries are required to fill, including detailed information of countries you’ve visited in THE LAST 10 YEARS. The one I have been filling in the last 10 years whenever I apply for US visa) has disappeared from their website. I contacted the consulate and they confirmed that that’s not a requirement anymore.
I will see if I get the visa in less than the usual 4 months waiting period! That’s the real test.
Syria walking tour: feet first into history
Gail Simmons joins a new walking tour of Syria and steps back more than 4,000 years in time.
Hariri Says U.S. Can ‘Easily’ Find Solution to Stalled Peace Process ‘if it Wanted to’
Mainstream Jewish Group Becomes First to Openly Criticize Obama U.S. Mideast Policy
Submitted by James Besser on Wed, 04/14/2010 – thejewishweek.com
The World Jewish Congress has become the first mainstream Jewish organization to speak out against the Obama administration’s recent treatment of Israel, scheduling full-page ads to appear in tomorrow’s editions of the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post that criticize Washington for placing the Mideast impasse on Jerusalem.
The “open letter” from WJC president Ronald Lauder to President Obama says that “our concern grows to alarm” in noting that while the Palestinians “refuse to negotiate,” “the thrust of this administration’s Middle East rhetoric seems to blame Israel for the lack of movement on peace talks.”
Lauder, a philanthropist and former diplomat, told me he believes the current public rift between the U.S. and Israel is the worst in memory, and he hopes the ads will “galvanize” the Jewish community into action.
He noted that before going forward with the ads, he consulted the 22 members of the WJC executive board, and received overwhelming support to go forward.
“We’ve never done something like this before,” Lauder said in terms of the WJC publicly criticizing a U.S. president’s Mideast policies. But he added that he feels his letter speaks to the concerns of large numbers of American Jews, many of whom have supported Obama but are now deeply concerned about his Mideast stance and reports that he may seek to impose a peace agreement on Israel and the Palestinians….