Read: Washington Post's Fred Hiatt points out the discrepancy between Obama's Syria policy and between his positions on humanitarian intervention before taking office-
If you had said in 2008 that the administration of Susan Rice, John Kerry and Barack Obama would do nothing while a dictator deliberately starved more than a quarter-million of his people, no one would have believed you.
All three had condemned the Bush administration for allowing people to starve in Darfur, Sudan, and passionately demanded action.
Quote: "Secretary Kerry, John, who I talk to – I was going to say every day, but I’ll amend that to every few hours. He’s incredible; he just goes on and on, I mean, he’s great", Benjamin Netanyahu about his relationship with John Kerry.
Number: 25, the percentage of the world's prisoners who are held in the US.
To Read: Dave Sharma, Australia's Ambassador to Israel, is impressed by a number of Israeli-Palestinian business initiatives which are not dependent on the ups and downs of the erratic peace negotiations-
The genius behind all these initiatives is that they are emerging from the ground up to solve practical problems and address practical needs. In doing so, they overcome or disregard political obstacles almost entirely. The business they are in is far too important to be held hostage to the ups-and-downs of the peace negotiations. And their success speaks to the banal but essential truth: that Israelis and Palestinians live in one region, and that ultimately their future lies in coexistence and cooperation.
Quote: “The EU will provide an unprecedented package of European political, economic and security support to both parties in the context of a final status agreement”, the EU vowing to provide vast support to Israel and Palestine if an agreement is reached.
Number: 817,200, the number of poor children in Israel according to a new poverty report issued by the National Insurance Institute.
The Middle East
Headline: UN makes $6.5 billion appeal for Syria
To Read: David Miliband believes that, even if peace is difficult to achieve, a lot can be done for the people of Syria-
If the conference scheduled for January 22 is not going to bring peace, then it needs to protect civilians during war. It would be the ultimate proof that the world has lost its humanitarian compass if having fought to get the treatment of civilians onto the agenda for the conference, we found that the conference was either cancelled or never reached the humanitarian issues. If the conference cannot achieve peace, it must restore humanitarian law during war.
Syria has become a ghost nation — to its people and to the donors, both individual and governmental, who are daunted by the scale of the crisis. I was reminded recently that in the Middle East you pay interest on your mistakes. So we had better bring humanity back to the centre of the crisis as soon as possible.
Quote: "the situation is ready", top Iranian advisor Ali Akbar Velayati showing optimism about the prospect of reaching a final agreement.
Number: 92, the number of people killed in a series of attacks in Iraq, continuing the deadliest year Iraq has known since 2006.
The Jewish World
To Read: Moshe Rosman examines the little known history of one of the most influential Jewish organization in Europe's history-
The Council of Four Lands (Va’ad Arba Aratzot) was the most elaborate and highly developed institutional structure in European Jewish history—a national council or parliament that existed from the mid-16th century to the 18th and whose decisions affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews and sought to coordinate the policies and actions of hundreds of communities in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Born in the last quarter of the 16th century out of congresses of religious leaders and elders during great fairs in civic centers such as Lublin, the central institution emerged to serve local groups as supreme legislative, administrative, and—sometimes—judicial body.
Quote: “Yeah, I’m really retiring. …My retirement consists of reducing my schedule down to only about 10 things at any given time”, Alan Dershowitz about his plans for retirement.
Number: 2,700, the age of the Iraqi scrolls that were buried in NY.