Mubarak Won’t Run Again

No resignation

President Hosni Mubarak speaking on Egyptian state television on Tuesday.(Al-Masriya TV)

Speaking on state television a few moments ago, embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he would not run for reelection, effectively ending his 30-year rule over Egypt. “In the few months remaining in my current term, I will work towards ensuring the measures and procedures that will guarantee the peaceful transition of power,” he said. Apparently nudged by withdrawal of American support, Mubarak delivered his speech, which was broadcast and translated on Al Jazeera English, as millions of Egyptians thronged Tahrir Square and the streets of Cairo.

Referring to himself in the third person, challenging his political opponents, and declaring that he “will die on Egyptian soil,” Mubarak defied calls for his resignation and ouster, but made repeated attempts to indicate that a transition of power would soon be under way. Will this be enough to mollify the protesters?

Crisis in Cairo [Tablet Magazine]

Here’s Lenny!

Your Vox Tablet preview

(Eric Molinsky)

Fifty years ago this Friday, an up-and-coming comedian stepped onto the stage at Carnegie Hall for a midnight concert. You might recognize his schtick …

But as Liel Liebovitz argues in tomorrow’s Vox Tablet episode, Lenny Bruce’s act was not an act at all. It was a rambling, ranting form of prophecy, and while he’s been dead for 45 years, now, in the age of Facebook and Twitter, we need him more than ever.

Network Kaddish

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Marjorie Ingall eulogizes the dear-departed CBS drama Medium and its “constant reminders that there is no love without loss.”

Medium Well

The Muslim Brotherhood, ‘A Major Player’

Top expert Bruce Riedel discusses Egypt and Jordan

Jordanian Islamists marching in Amman over the weekend.(Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images)

In my continuing interview series, I talked to Bruce Riedel, a former residential Mideast adviser now at the Brookings Institute (he is also a Tablet Magazine contributor). We spent most of our time on Egypt, but he closed by warning about Jordan.

Which “other friends” are most important?
From an American standpoint, Jordan is the one that is both at risk and critically important. And for Israel, too. Jordan is absolutely vital to fighting terrorism. They have the best intelligence service in the Middle East—

Other than Israel’s?
I would say they have the best. They sit on a vital piece of territory, and they face many of the same problems Tunisia and Egypt face, of a large youth bulge with high unemployment and underemployment, and without the oil money to buy off political enemies. The little Gulf states and Saudi Arabia are much less at risk because you may not have a job, but you still get a salary.

I think Jordan is something to keep a very close eye on here, because the stakes are very high for the United States and Israel. The Hashemite monarchy has been a very loyal and important friend for over half a century. And just as Israel-Egypt is an important peace treaty, Israel-Jordan is as well.

Crisis in Cairo [Tablet Magazine]

Guess Who’s Back

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Rachel Shteir reports from Chicago, where Rahm Emanuel is back on the ballot and in good position to be elected mayor.


Know Your Omars

Little vs. Suleiman? Oh, indeed.

Omar & Omar.(Moshe Milner/GPO/Getty Images/HBO/Len Small/Tablet Magazine)

With it looking more and more likely that Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman will rule Egypt, at least for a time, we were wondering how President Obama feels about him. Then we remembered that Obama has said his favorite Wire character is Omar Little. And that got us thinking …

Omar Little: Brother Mouzone.
Omar Suleiman: Muslim Brotherhood.

Omar Little: A trip to NYC to cool off for a while.
Omar Suleiman: $1.5 billion a year.

Omar Little: President Obama.
Omar Suleiman: President Obama? (Spoilers after jump) (more…)

Change You Can Believe In

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Maariv columnist Yoav Fromer lists all the reasons that Israel and Israelis should fear the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the entrance of a government with prominent Islamist influence. But he then argues that Israel may be better off with a more democratic government in Egypt anyway.


Beautiful Fiasco

Lupe’s back with some harsh words for Israel


While most artists critical of Israel express their dismay by playing the somewhat tedious boycotting game, hip-hop star Lupe Fiasco at least has the guts to express his rage in his verse. “Words I Never Said,” the new single from his forthcoming album that was released today on his Website contains some harsh criticism of the Jewish state.

“Gaza strip was getting bombed / Obama didn’t say shit / That’s why I ain’t vote for him,” he raps, adding, “Israel don’t take my side / ‘cause look how far you pushed ‘em.”

Whether you agree with the song’s message or not, the beats are terrific. And the lyrics do contain at least one message we can all get behind: “I think that all the silence is worse than all the violence,” Lupe states. Word.

“Words I Never Said” [Lupe Fiasco]

Embajador Oren

Israeli ambassador goes on Univision


In case you missed it, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren appeared on Univision’s Sunday morning talk show Al Punto the weekend before last. In an effort to reach out to the Latino community, Oren talked to host Jorge Ramos about Tunisia (“We hope that democracy emerges in Tunisia as we hope democracy emerges in the entire Middle East”), Iran’s nuclear threat (“They are openly saying that they want to destroy our state, so we have reason to be concerned”), and, of course, the peace process (“We need to move forward to create a durable, permanent, legitimate two-state solution, but a two-state solution that will bring genuine peace”).

The conversation turns more serious when Ramos notes that several Latin American countries—Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela among them—have recognized an independent Palestinian state. “Is Israeli diplomacy failing in Latin America?” he asks.

According to Embassy Spokesman Jonathan Peled, “Ambassador Oren’s interview is part and parcel of Israel’s outreach to the Hispanic community.” How does he do? Watch the whole clip (it’s in English) after the jump. (more…)

The Other ‘Exodus’

Today on Tablet


Books critic Adam Kirsch reviews a new biography of Leon Uris, the writer of the novel Exodus, today in Tablet Magazine, and boy was Uris not, let us say, someone you would want to know personally. Essentially a bunch of Westerns—“Mila-18 was a Warsaw Ghetto Western, Topaz a Cuban spy Western, Trinity an Irish Western,” and, of course, Exodus a “Middle Eastern Western”—Uris’s books were nonetheless best-sellers and even enormously influential.

Exodus was especially popular with Soviet Jewish refuseniks, and I personally wonder whether these men and women liked it partly because it must have so resembled the Party-line literature they were brought up on. As no less than David Ben-Gurion said of Uris’s magnum opus, “As a literary work it isn’t much. But as a piece of propaganda, it’s the best thing ever written about Israel.”

Best and the Rest

‘Going To Make Progress Virtually Impossible’

Aaron David Miller on Egypt’s effect on the peace process

He looks kinda tense, no?(Tomer Appelbaum/AFP/Getty Images)

Yesterday, over at my series of interviews about the Egyptian crisis, reporter Judith Miller and scholar Brian Katulis focused mainly on what was and is going on in Egypt itself. This morning, Aaron David Miller, an experienced American Mideast hand, turns his gaze slightly north and explains what the repercussions of the incredible events will mean for Israel and the peace process.

Crisis in Cairo [Tablet Magazine]

Daybreak: U.S. Joins Egyptians in the Streets

Plus Israel watches Sinai, turmoil in Jordan, and more in the news

Tahrir Square, in Cairo, this morning.(Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images))

• As tens of thousands crowd Cairo’s streets, in probably the largest protest yet, the United States has decided to carefully but rapidly move for an “orderly transition” from President Mubarak’s rule, sending a former ambassador close to Mubarak to Cairo. [WP]

• Meanwhile, the administration scrambles to answer the question of the moment: What, exactly, does opposition leader Mohammed ElBaradei represent? [NYT]

• Israel is concerning itself with making sure its Egyptian border is sealed and preparing for a potential wave of Sinai Bedouin asylum-seekers. [Haaretz]

• But of course: Oil prices have been rising over the past week. [NYT]

• Meanwhile, King Abdullah II, of Jordan, fired his cabinet in response to protests and ordered a former army general to come in and form a new one. [AP]

• The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog warned Syria that it would be toughening its stance. [WSJ]

Sundown: Egypt Transition Said Underway

Plus Huck in the Holy Land, and more

Yes, that is Jon Voight, father of Angelina Jolie, with Gov. Huckabee.(Lior Mizrahi /Getty Images)

New Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman as well as the defense chief are preparing a transition from President Mubarak’s 30-year reign. The Army has been told not to hurt people, reportedly. [Laura Rozen]

• President Obama is telling foreign leaders that the U.S. supports “orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.” [Laura Rozen]

• Stuxnet may cause Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor to melt down, Chernobyl-style, according to a “foreign intelligence report.” This week is like a West Wing episode! [AP/Vos Iz Neias?]

• Bibi, Huckabee, and Jon Voight: Get those three together, and it’s a party! (Huckabee and Voight proceeded to lay a cornerstone for a new East Jerusalem settlement.) [Ben Smith]

• While Jordanian protesters are dissatisfied with their government’s policies and their way of life, they maintain respect for the monarchy. [WP]

• Gabe Zimmerman, the dead Gabrielle Giffords staffer who we all assumed was Jewish and turned out not to be, in fact wasn’t but did serve as a counselor at a Massachusetts Yiddish-socialist summer camp. [Forward]

• Hitch guesses that the Egyptian protestors are motivated, above all else, by shame at their regime’s treating them like they are idiots. [Slate]

Three –bergs, only one Zuckerberg. Berg.

‘The Calculus Won’t Change Overnight’

Expert Brian Katulis, consulted by White House, discusses Egypt

Prominent opposition leader Mohammed ElBaradei yesterday.(Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Next for my series of interviews about Egypt, I talked to Brian Katulis, of the Center for American Progress. This morning, Katulis and several other experts from the think-tank world were summoned to the White House to examine the crisis. Check out my interview here.

Crisis in Cairo [Tablet Magazine]

Peace in the Middle East

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Josh Lambert offers his weekly round-up of forthcoming books of interest, focusing particularly on the troubled Israeli-Palestinian relationship that you may have read or heard something about.

On the Bookshelf

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