: For MSNBC’s Connected, I’m pointing to blogs commenting on Israeli President Mosche Katsav’s historic — we hope — handshakes with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iranian President Mohammed Khatami at the pope’s funeral. Katsav was born in Iran and he and Khatami spoke in Persian for an hour, some reports said. Links:

: Jeff Perin at Opinionmeister says:

It does not mean that they are friendly, but it is a sign of progress, no matter how small. In the past, leaders of Arab states still at war with Israel and of Iran would not appear in the same room as a high Israeli official, much less extend a hand to be shaken. It is amazing that whoever arranged the seating allowed the presidents of Israel and Syria to be seated so close together. If nothing else, it shows that the heads of Syria and Iran are worried enough about the Bush Doctrine that they want good PR in the West.

Outside the Beltway is pessimistic: “My guess is that the net effect on Middle East peace of this encounter will approximate zero.”

: Spinbad says:

A non-event, but a huge non-event in the context of the history of Arab-Israel conflict, and a heart-warming tribute to the outreach and conciliation efforts of Pope John Paul II, may he rest in peace.

: QandO has a note of hope:

Its another in a long list of occurrances and happenings unthinkable 2 years ago which can’t help but give the rest of the world hope that there will indeed be peace, stability and democracy in the Middle East’s future.

: And the Passionate Pilgrim said this brought tears to her eyes: “If they are half as sincere as they seem to be, John Paulís death may be the sign of the peace to come in our lifetime. Salam. Shalom. Amen.”

: ANOTHER HANDSHAKE: Through an amusing big of miscommunication, I at first went looking for posts about another handshake — between Prince Charles and Mugabe. Not nearly as earthshaking but, as all things Princely, amusing:

: SJHoward, a British blog says:

Considering his luck lately, the poor fellow was bound to make some diplomatic gaffe, and if youíre going to do it, you might as well do it properly….

So, for once, Iím going to stick up for Charles on this issue, since I think he probably did the only thing he could in the circumstances. Whether the circumstance should have been allowed to rise is another matter, but surely not one for the Prince.

: Blogophile is a blog devoted to Prince Charles news. Its latest news says that Charles shook hands with Mugabe. And in earlier Prince Charles news: “Charles repents adultery.”

: Ian Schwartz has the video.

  • Hey, you’re on TV! Its fun to read along on the blog while hearing you on TV. Nice job, Jeff!

  • billg

    If these encounters are reported in either the Syrian or the Iranian press, then it might be an indication something has budged just a bit.
    In the 1980’s, the first public indication that the apartheid South African government was preparing to deal with the still imprisoned Nelson Mandela was a reference to him on the evening Afrikaans TV news as “Mr. Mandela”. The content of the broadcast was, of course, controlled by the regime. At the time, Mandela was offically “listed’, meaning it was illegal to mention his name in public. The fact that the Afrikaans news (separate broadcasts, with separate content, existed for English and Xhosa speakers) mentioned him, much less using the honorific “Mr.”, was a signal to the primary constituency for apartheid that things were going to change.
    If this story is allowed to air in Syria or Iran, it might, just maybe, have similar significance.
    But, I wouldn’t count on it.

  • Mike NYC

    I’m not watching, just reading, but this is great stuff, Jeff. Thanks for posting.

  • I caught your report on MSNBC today. Very good…But the people in the booth didn’t do a good job of keeping up with your citations of blog URLs.
    I look forward to catching you again!

  • Kat

    Iran and Syria are denying the handshakes today–God forbid they should touch the hand of a Jew.