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Henican: U.S. attempts diplomacy in Israel-Palestine conflict

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry boards his

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry boards his plane in Paris, as he returns to Washington, Saturday, July 26, 2014, following efforts to reach a longer truce between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. = Credit: AP / Charles Dharapak

'A brief seven days of peace."

John Kerry was talking about a tiny cease-fire, the blink of an eye in the endless and gruesome conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, just long enough to pull out the wounded, send in fresh supplies, say separate prayers to a shared God of Abraham and assess the shaky possibility of a broader peace.

Yes, progress is slow at moments like these in places like this one. And yet what else are decent people supposed to try?

The U.S. secretary of state, driven and battle-worn, was doing all that engaged outsiders can. He was pushing the parties together. He was reminding both sides how much they still have to lose. With far too little leverage, he was searching for a hidden break in a wall of hatred built thousands of years ago.

There "was no formal proposal, or final proposal, or proposal ready [for] a vote submitted to Israel," Kerry said, papering over the Israeli reluctance to sign on for seven days. When the two sides agreed to 12 hours, he called it a step and pressed on.

High odds, gritty work, uncertain results.

Negotiation and diplomacy aren't for the fainthearted. But does anyone really prefer shock-and-awe and 10-year U.S. occupations?

No one does.


1. Israelis in Gaza

2. Russians in Ukraine

3. Kids at the Mexican border

4. ISIS in Iraq

5. Little will to solve anything

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It's one of the great under-told stories of World War II, and a crucial part of it happened on Long Island. William Sebold was a naturalized German-American who in 1940 became the first double-agent in FBI history. For 16 months, he helped bust a Nazi spy ring in and around New York. With Sebold's help, the FBI set up a shortwave radio station in Centerport to communicate with Hamburg-based spymasters, trading more than 500 secret messages and identifying dozens of German espionage agents in the United States and South America. Thirty-three German spies were arrested, still the largest espionage case in U.S. history. The story is not totally unknown, but author Peter Duffy has dug out some fascinating new details. "Double Agent: The First Hero of World War II and How the FBI Outwitted and Destroyed a Nazi Spy Ring" is just out from Scribner.

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