Note: Once again, we have major events that correspond to pressure and expectations of Israel in the U.S., Russia and the Vatican.
Massachusetts Senator Kerry in Syria (The Jerusalem Post)
Israeli officials on Thursday dismissed speculation that U.S. Sen. John Kerry will have any luck in Damascus, testing the waters for a Syrian-Israeli diplomatic channel, saying President Bashar Assad's bellicose statement at the recent Arab League summit in Libya belied any peaceful strategy.
Assad on Sunday called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to ditch negotiations with Israel in favor of "armed resistance."
Kerry, nonetheless, said in Damascus following a three-hour meet-ing with Assad that Syria was committed to engaging in peace-making and was essential to the Mideast process.
The purpose of Kerry's trip, according to his office, was to assess the prospects for advancing the Arab-Israeli peace process, as well as the political situation in Syria and Lebanon, where he stopped on Wednesday.
Koenig's perspective: This was another wasted U.S. trip to Syria. A few weeks ago, William Burns of the State Department went to Damascus to announce that the U.S. was going to reappoint a U.S. ambassador to Syria. This was followed by a trip to Damascus one week later by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- who met with As-sad and Hezbollah leader Nasrallah for dinner.
Northeastern states declared disaster areas after heavy rains
President Obama has declared parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Is-land federal disaster areas after flooding and storms swept through the region. Providence, Rhode Island, has recorded more than 15 inches of rain so far this month, making it the city's rainiest month on record.
In Boston, it has been the second rainiest month since record-keeping began in 1872. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said, "We’ve had two 50-year storms in the course of two or three weeks. It's unheard of."
Koenig's perspective: Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was in Syria talking about the future of Israel's land as his home state was experiencing record floods. He also was in Israel in early March, meeting with the Netanyahu government.
Moscow Quartet Meeting – Friday, March 19
Quartet Meeting in Moscow urges Israelis and Palestinians to engage in proximity talks (TonyBlairOffice.org)
The proximity talks are an important step toward the resumption, without pre-conditions, of direct bilateral negotiations that resolve all final status issues as previously agreed by the parties.
The Quartet believes these negotiations should lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties within 24 months, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors.
Moscow bombing – Monday, March 29
The brazen suicide bombings in the center of Moscow confronted Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin with a grave challenge to his record of curbing terrorism, and raised the possibility that he would respond as he had in the past -- by significantly tightening control over the government.
The explosions Monday, set off by female suicide bombers in two landmark subway stations, killed at least 38 people and wounded scores of others, touching off fears that the Muslim insurgency in southern Russia, including Chechnya, was once again being brought to the country's heart.
Koenig's perspective: The leaders of the world pressure Israel to make pace with Muslim terrorists in their Moscow meeting, and in the next week Moscow is reeling from Muslim terrorist bombings.
Pope Benedict calls for peace in Jerusalem, the 'spiritual home-land' – Catholic News Agency – March 28
Expressing his sorrow for the current situation in the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI hoped and prayed for peace in the region on Palm Sun-day. He provided words of encouragement for Christians in the area and reflected on the nature of the pilgrim as a "messenger of peace."
In his Italian-language greeting after the Angelus, the Pope drew attention to Jerusalem, Jesus' destination in Sunday's liturgy. He said he is "profoundly pained" by the recent conflicts and tensions in the city, which he called "the spiritual homeland of Chris-tians, Jews and Muslims."
This city is the "prophecy and promise of that universal reconciliation that God desires for the entire human family," noted the Pope.
"Peace," he continued, "is a gift that God entrusts to human responsibility, so that it is cultivated through dialogue and respect for the rights of all, reconciliation and forgiveness.
"We pray, then, so that those responsible for the fate of Jerusalem undertake courageously the way of peace and follow it with perseverance!"
Koenig's perspective: Pope Benedict would benefit from a full biblical understanding of Israel and Jerusalem. Additionally, his concept of peace isn't compatible with the Scriptures. It's hard to comprehend that he is the leader of 1 billion Catholics with much influence.
Vatican calls attacks on Pope Benedict 'unfair' in sexual abuse scandal – ABC News
Facing the most serious crisis since Pope Benedict XVI took of-fice, officials inside the Vatican describe the recent focus on the pope and abuse as unexpected and unfair in light of recent efforts to pre-vent such abuse.
Vatican lashes out against sex abuse coverage (Reuters)
Cardinals rushed to Pope Benedict XVI's defense on Holy Thursday amid accusations he played a role in covering up sex abuse scandals, and an increasingly angry Vatican made a stinging attack on the U.S. media for its coverage.
On Wednesday, the church singled out The New York Times for criti-cism in an unusually harsh attack.
Koenig's perspective: On Jan. 24, 2002, in Assisi, Italy, Pope John Paul II sponsored the Day Of Prayer for Peace in the World.
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II TO THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE WORLD RELIGIONS:
The Catholic Church took down all the church paraphernalia to make the visitors more comfortable.
One week or so later, in February 2002, a major sexual scandal broke out in the Catholic Church that devastated the church, caused it ir-reparable harm and cost it hundreds of millions of dollars. It had to do with sexual abuse scandal in Boston archdiocese.
According to Wikipedia, in early 2002, Boston Globe coverage of a se-ries of criminal prosecutions of five Roman Catholic priests thrust the issue of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests into the na-tional limelight.
These are the kind of tragic and very sad events that happen to break at the time of Vatican actions or statements pertaining to Israel.
A few weeks ago, Pope Benedict also stated that it was time for the Is-raelis and the Palestinians to work out their differences and that it was important to the whole Middle East region.