by YES! Staff

Hersh’s shuttle diplomacy

Seymour Hersh, perhaps the most respected foreign policy reporter of his generation, writes in the April 6 issue of The New Yorker that the Obama administration has an opportunity to pursue peace in the Middle East by brokering a deal between Syria and Israel (Syria has consistently demanded that Israel return the Golan Heights, seized in 1967; Israel could benefit by having Syria moderate Hezbollah, Syria’s client and Israel’s enemy, and by chalking up an additional ally in the region). Hersh has been talking to principals on both sides, including Syrian President Bashar Assad, who e-mailed the reporter: “We still believe that we need to conclude a serious dialogue to lead us to peace.” And he quotes Itamar Rabinovich, chief negotiator for Israel with Syria under former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin: “I say Bashar Assad definitely wants to go ahead with the talks. And he may find a partner in Bibi Netanyahu [the new prime minister of Israel]. Bibi would prefer to deal with Syria rather than the Palestinians.” Hersh is clearly telegraphing a message to the Obama administration, which declined to comment for the article. The reporter quotes an anonymous “former American diplomat who has been involved in the Midlle East pace process,” as saying the new administration has to conduct “due diligence”: “Get an ambassador there, or a presidential envoy. Talk to Bashar, and speak in specifics so you’ll actually know whether or not you’ve got what you’ve asked for. If you’re vague, don’t be surprised if it comes back to bite you.” — JG

Our industry in crisis

Even the comics pages are being affected by the downturn in the daily newspaper business. Last week, globetrotting reporter Brenda Starr was furloughed from The Flash, where she has been employed for the last 70 years or so. She learned of her furlough from longtime editor B Babbitt Bottomline after she returned from Kazookistan where she was in search of a hot story — and her one true love Basil St. John. Seriously, if Brenda Starr can’t find work, what hope is there for any of us? — BC