Pres. Obama meets with Pres. Karzai. Via CNN:

President Obama made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan on Sunday. The president left his Camp David, Maryland, retreat for the trip and flew to Afghanistan on Air Force One, landing at Bagram Air Base at 7:24 p.m. (around 11 a.m. ET). Obama then flew on a helicopter to the Presidential Palace for a meeting with Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai.

As for Sarah Palin hitting Searchlight, Nevada, she’s likely not to get any credit for the crowds (photos via), if they can be verified. To understand the enormity of her people powered popularity you need to consider that Searchlight has a population of around 760 people, give or take, but certainly less than 1,000. My husband lived in Las Vegas his entire life and boiled the town of Searchlight down to “four gas stations and three restaurants that is primarily a rest stop in the middle of the desert, which started as a simple mining town in the 1990s.” The lines of cars and crowd shots shown here are nothing short of monumental, again, if these pictures are accurate, which I cannot personally verify.

But regardless of the crowd size, it’s another marker in the Sarah Palin does if differently file, because the Republican elite would never plan an event in Searchlight; they’d go to Las Vegas where the crowd would be assured, easy to amass and get covered. Sarah in Searchlight is the antithesis of this and if she actually drew the crowds shown in these pictures it’s one for the record brooks, because there is simply no other politician today that could draw these crowds to this tiny little town.

Beyond Obama and Palin, a word about Israel at Passover. There is an anti-Obama drum beat coming from the right that is as predictable as it is wrongly directed. The Israeli challenge is about Prime Minister Netanyahu, no matter how the right spins their “Pres. Obama hates Jews” vitriol, which is preposterous. Tough love can only come from friends. Obama sees beyond the horizon, with Israel in real trouble if Mr. Netanyahu doesn’t find a way to get beyond settlements and deal with moving the process forward to negotiating a two-state solution. Iran is important to the larger region, but it’s not the number one threat to the Jewish state. Via Laura Rozen comes a report very much worth reading:

A second official confirmed the broad outlines of the current debate within the administration. Obviously at every stage of the process, the Obama Middle East team faces tactical decisions about what to push for, who to push, how hard to push, he described.

As to which argument best reflects the wishes of the President, the first official said, “As for POTUS, what happens in practice is that POTUS, rightly, gives broad direction. He doesn’t, and shouldn’t, get bogged down in minutiae. But Dennis uses the minutiae to blur the big picture … And no one asks the question: why, since his approach in the Oslo years was such an abysmal failure, is he back, peddling the same snake oil?”

Other contacts who have discussed recent U.S.-Israel tensions with Ross say he argues that all parties need to keep focus on the big picture, Iran, and the peace process as being part of a wider U.S. effort to bolster an international and regional alliance including Arab nations and Israel to pressure and isolate Iran. This is an argument that presumably has resonance with the Netanyahu government. But at the same time, Arab allies tell Washington that Israeli construction in East Jerusalem inflames their publics and breeds despair and makes it hard for them to work even indirectly and quietly with Israel on Iran. They push Washington to show it can manage Israel and to get an Israeli-Palestinian peace process going that would facilitate regional cooperation on Iran.

Amidst the frustration shown by Syria and Libya, who called for Palestinians to reject and withdraw from engagement with Israel, Arab leaders renewed their commitment to peace talks, while Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa addressed Iran and possible engagement. Turkish Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and others, including Iraq agreed, with Egypt and Saudi Arabia leading the opposition.