Today's Story Line

In today's Middle East coverage we step back from the daily exchange of stones, gunfire, and rhetoric. Instead, we explore what makes this region a global flash and focal points. The short answer: faith and fossil fuel. But the current effort to resolve territorial disputes over Jerusalem has pushed the conflict into the religious realm, where positions are, for now, less flexible.

The world, of course, continues to turn elsewhere. South Africa is the latest developing nation to try to defend its fisheries from Europe's large appetite for hake and other undersea species.

And in Azerbaijan, a tale of ethnic war refugees who are desperate to return to productive, normal lives.

David Clark Scott World editor


LET THEM EAT HAKE: Reporter Kate Dunn admits to something of a dinner-plate bias when it comes to foreign exploitation of South African fisheries. As a Cape Town resident, she enjoys the hake and barracuda served at the fish and chips shops. If European ships were allowed in to fish, that might reduce the local supply and raise prices. "On the other hand, the portions served here are so huge, that you can't eat it all. With more competition, they might value the resource more at the retail level," says Kate.

SACRED SITES: The Monitor's Middle East correspondent Cameron Barr has visited some of the principal holy sites cherished by Christians, Muslims, and Jews in Jerusalem. "Many people who visit the Western Wall and Al-Aqsa mosque, regardless of their religious beliefs, are struck by the simplicity and solemnity of the sites," says Cameron. But when interviewing local Muslims and Jews about the peace talks, some won't acknowledge the sacredness of these places for the other faith. "That's one of the most troubling aspects for me," says Cameron, "that each would deny the symbolic value these sites hold for the other."

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