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Jewish Journal

 

December 15, 2013

by Shmuel Rosner

December 15, 2013 | 4:04 am

A woman swims in the pool at the David Citadel Hotel
during a snow storm in Jerusalem December 13, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

The US

Headline: Syrian Islamist rebels to meet U.S. officials: opposition sources

Read: Doyle McManus takes a look at the US' dire options in Syria, the result of years of failed policy-

The administration could change course and decide that living with Assad is better than the danger of a fragmented Syria overrun by Al Qaeda-backed jihadists…. But that would mean a straightforward admission of defeat. Or the administration could continue what it's doing now: trying to resuscitate Idriss' Free Syrian Army, seeking a rapprochement with the Islamic Front and working to keep diplomatic talks alive.

Frederic C. Hof of the Atlantic Council, another Syria expert, calls that "the moonwalk option" — the illusion of forward motion while standing in place — and it's the most likely outcome. It won't end the agony of Syria's people or eliminate the danger of jihadist mini-armies. But it will minimize the immediate risk of U.S. military entanglement — and that, like it or not, has been Obama's first priority all along.

Quote: "Both parties remain committed to fulfilling their obligations to stay at the table and negotiate hard during the nine-month period that we set for that. We're not talking at this point about any shifts (in the schedule)", John Kerry remaining optimistic about his 9-month peace schedule.

Number: 15,000, the number of anti-missile tanks which the Saudis are buying from the US.

 

Israel

Headline: Almost 20,000 cut off from power as political blame game begins

To Read: Dan Margalit laments the failure of the Bedouin resettlement plan-

There is always a public litmus test to assess the strength or weakness of a political decision. When the radical right allies with the radical Left and the Arab sector to thwart a move proposed by the responsible middle, then clearly the proposed step is a good, worthy and beneficial one.

Quote: “[the passing of such bills] is something done by a group of countries that it is doubtful if Israel wants to join”, Israel's Attorney General commenting on the problematic nature of a new bill which would rescind tax breaks on foreign governmental funding for Israeli NGOs whose directors or executives call for a boycott of Israel or Israeli citizens..

Number: 59, the percentage of Israelis who support gay marriage, according to a Haaretz poll.

 

The Middle East

Headline: Iran committed to continuing nuclear talks: foreign minister

To Read: Michael Weiss muses on Russia's triumphant return to the Middle East-

From Syria to Egypt to Iran to Israel, Moscow is now seen to be moving in on America’s turf, usurping the only superpower’s traditional role as safeguard of a region that, whether or not it cares to admit it, has always looked to the United States to solve its problems. But now a new patron has arrived in the neighborhood with the offer of advanced weaponry and a cold disregard for how dictatorial regimes choose to conduct their “internal” affairs. Unlike Washington, this patron has shown a willingness to stand by its friends in extremity and is more than happy to wage diplomatic war with the West if those friends’ survival is ever called into question. Russia’s restoration in the Middle East has been built upon America’s abdication.

Quote: “It is a good start on which to build the institutions of a democratic and modern state”, interim President Adly Mansour praised the revised draft for Egypt's new constitution.

Number: 5,000, at least 5,000 people were evacuated due to the floods in Gaza.

 

The Jewish World

Headline: Ukrainian chief rabbi mixes into political fray

To Read: Michael Ignatieff reviews a new book (written By Bo Lidegaard) which analyzes the reasons for Denmark's exemplary attitude toward its Jewish population during WW2:

Countrymen is a story about a little country that did the right thing for complicated reasons, and got away with it for equally complicated reasons. It is a story that reinforces an old truth: solidarity and decency depend on a dense tissue of connection among people, on long-formed habits of the heart, on resilient cultures of common citizenship, and on leaders who marshal these virtues by their example. In Denmark, this dense tissue bound human beings together and indirect rule made it impossible for the Germans to rip it apart. Elsewhere in Europe, by contrast, it was destroyed in stages, first by ghettoizing and isolating the Jewish people and then by insulating bystanders from the full horror of Nazi intentions. Once Jews had been stripped of citizenship, property, rights, and social existence—once they could appeal only to the common humanity of persecutors and bystanders alike—it was too late.

Quote: “[the project is an] important contribution toward historical-political education”, Germany's Institute for Contemporary History explaining its decision to go on with the project of publishing an annotated edition of Hitler's 'Mein Kampf'.

Number: 50, here is the annual (and rather odd) list of the Forward's 50 influential Jews.

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