To Read: James P. Rubin believes that John Kerry is becoming far too chummy with the cunning Russian veteran Sergei Lavrov-
Kerry is making a big mistake if he doesn’t understand that Russia wants, as a matter of policy, to weaken the United States. He should be much more wary of negotiations with Lavrov until Assad’s calculations change, and that will only happen when the Syrian opposition recovers from recent setbacks. There will be a time for negotiations to succeed, but that time is not now.
Quote: "They're flowing in all the time, these extremists. But they still do not make up a sizeable portion", John McCain claiming that the 'good guys' are discernable from the 'bad guys' in Syria.
Number: $398m, the amount of money paid by oil giant Total to US authorities for bribing Iranian officials in its bid to secure oil and gas concessions.
To Read: Anne Bayfsky writes about Israel's dilemma concerning the UN Human Rights Council-
In March of last year, Israel decided not to cooperate with a UN “human rights” establishment that promises equality and delivers discrimination.
Under heavy pressure from the Obama administration and European governments not to spotlight the dark anti- Semitic underbelly of UN “human rights” operations, however, Israel is considering reversing this decision.
Without fundamental reform, such an unfortunate about-turn by Israel would be a major boost to Israel’s delegitimizers.
Quote: "We have heard of incidents in which soldiers were prevented from attending their synagogue, soldiers spat on during prayer in Bnei Brak and Jerusalem, knocks on doors of soldiers' wives and warnings against walking in their neighborhood, as well as threatening notices pinned on doorways", a high ranking IDF officer describing the hard time ultra-orthodox soldiers have been having in their communities.
Number: 1000, the building of over 1000 Eastern Jerusalem buildings has been authorized by the Israeli government.
The Middle East
To Read: According to Elliot Abrams, seeing that Iran is actively trying to 'win' the Syrian conflict, the US needs to be careful not to 'lose'-
A good summary of where things stand: They have decided to win, and we have not.
Prudent voices will say that “winning” is a ridiculous concept in the context of Syria today. Not to Hezbollah and Iran it isn’t; “winning” means Assad stays in power. So far, so good for their side. Many people (myself included) did not think the regime would last this long, but that miscalculation was due to underestimating the willingness of Iran and Hezbollah to make this their fight, by sending unlimited quantities of money and arms, and then sending thousands of fighters. And due to a further miscalculation: thinking that with this high a humanitarian toll, and the rising threat to stability in Jordan, and the violation of the chemical weapons red line, and the direct Iranian and Hezbollah role, the Obama administration would be forced to do something serious. So far, so bad for our side. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Hezbollah probably wondered if we would really tolerate their sending an expeditionary force to Syria, which in effect they are doing. They have their answer now; we would.
Quote: “We consider the recent decision of the Israeli government to build a thousand homes in east Jerusalem as effectively destroying the efforts of (US Secretary of State) Kerry… [Israel has] a systematic plan for destroying Kerry’s efforts which involves an escalation of settlement building, a displacement of the population of the Jordan Valley, an increase of settler attacks against our people and confiscation of our land.”, Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, criticizing Israel's decision to build in East Jerusalem.
Number: 5-8, the percentage of Jihadists among Syria's opposition according the FSA leader Salim Idriss.
The Jewish World
To Read: A CS Monitor piece takes a look at the Jewish awakening inspired by Hungary's wave of anti-Semitism-
The "Jewish renaissance" underway in the Hungarian capital is twofold. Previously a tumbledown, crime ridden corner of the city, Budapest’s historic Jewish quarter has morphed into a gentrified nexus of bohemia, replete with Jewish restaurants full of tourists and wine bars peppered amongst the towering synagogues. On a more intellectual level, the elevation of the ultranationalist Jobbik party and the virulently anti-Semitic beliefs held by some of their members have prompted a renewed wave of Jewish political engagement. Initiatives like the Sirály cultural center organize direct activism whilst running cultural events designed to encourage observant and non-affiliated Jewish youth alike to explore their heritage.
Quote: ”so virulently anti-Semitic it would make Hitler and Himmler weep tears of joy”, Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Wiesenthal Center condemning an anti-Semitic Norwegian caricature.
Number: 4, the number of Nobel prize winners among the 10,000 children rescued by Britain's Kindertransport 75 years ago.