It’s been a busy month for U.S. foreign policy, and Suzette Grillot and Rebecca Cruise talk about how the United States has responded to multiple crises - from the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner in Ukraine, to the situation in Gaza.

Later, a conversation with Venezuelan poet Arturo Gutierrez-Plaza about the literature of Latin America. His work explores the small scenes of everyday life.

Rebecca Cruise and Suzette Grillot discuss the escalating situation between Israel and Palestine, both the real and potential impact of host nation Brazil’s loss this week in the World Cup.

Then a conversation with national security analyst Linda Robinson about her book One Hundred Victories: Special Ops and the Future of American Warfare. She spent two years in Afghanistan joining U.S. Special Forces on combat missions, while still knowing when to stay out of the way.

Joshua Landis and Suzette Grillot focus on the aggression in the east of Ukraine, and the well as the historical importance of Ukraine in Russian history. They also discuss how the war in Syria has affected the country’s ancient history and cultural heritage.

And later, a conversation with Israeli scholar Zaki Shalom. He says the Arab Spring has shifted focus away from the Middle East’s more long-standing discord.

Pete Souza / The White House

Israel’s nuclear capabilities and its relationship with the United States can be controversial and problematic during Middle East negotiations, but Zaki Shalom, a Senior Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies and a researcher at the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the study of Israel and Zionism, says Israel is an example of stability and development in the region.

Doctors in Israel say that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's "already critical medical condition is deteriorating further as key bodily organs continue to decline," The Associated Press writes.

Dr. Zeev Rotstein, director of Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv, told reporters that members of the 85-year-old Sharon's family are by his bedside, the AP adds.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered some rare, if fleeting, hope Thursday in regard to his country's relationship with Iran.

In an interview with Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep, he said the election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani "might" offer an opportunity for diplomacy and that he would "consider" meeting him.

"I don't care about the meeting. I don't have a problem with the diplomatic process," Netanyahu said.

"You're saying you would meet him?" Steve asked.

Earlier this week President Obama asked congressional leaders to postpone a vote on legislation that would authorize the use of force against Syria. Joshua Landis provides an update on what's next in the volatile region.

Later, journalist Erielle Reshef joins Suzette Grillot for a conversation about covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Before returning to her home state last year to anchor and report for KOCO-TV, the Oklahoma City native spent several years working for the Israeli Broadcasting Authority.

Erielle Reshef reports from an Iron Dome missile defense site in Ashkelon during a 2012 rocket barrage.
Erielle Reshef / Facebook

Between 2010 and 2012, Oklahoma City native Erielle Reshef reported twice from Gaza during instances of cross-border violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

She stood next to an Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system covering the firefight for the Israeli Broadcasting Authority (IBA). But even as the Katyushsa rockets headed toward the country, she told KGOU’s World Views she never once felt unsafe.

Oklahoma Speaker On Israel Trip

Jul 30, 2013
Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon
Oklahoma House

House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) was among a group of U.S. delegates and state legislators to visit Israel last week organized by the group the American Israel Friendship League.

According to the nonprofit’s website, the AIFL is “dedicated to promoting and strengthening the relationship between the people of the United States and Israel.”

PeacePlayers International

Pessimism abounds as Israeli and Palestinian leaders prepare to resume US-backed peace talks next week.

But government action isn’t the only answer to the region’s problems. PeacePlayers International, a nonprofit organization founded in 2001, is helping to create sustainable peace through grassroots efforts. Its programs in Israel and the West Bank bring together Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Druze children to play basketball and develop mutual respect and understanding.