To Read: Lee Smith believes that John Kerry's ostentatious Middle East gestures are just a form of theater-
Secretary of State John Kerry says that’s it’s now or never for Israelis and Palestinians to reach agreement on a two-state solution. Interestingly, neither Israeli nor Palestinian officials have any idea what Kerry is talking about. With the Arab Spring uprisings tilting the Middle East status quo on behalf of Israel’s enemies, Jerusalem is not about to give up the West Bank—nor is the Palestinian Authority in any position to defend it. Little wonder then that an Israeli official recently told Haaretz, that Kerry “looks like a naive and ham-handed diplomat.”
Quote: "We don't have unrealistic expectations. We know the immensity of obstacles. If it doesn't work, of course we have our own plans", Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, showing limited enthusiasm about the Kerry visit.
Number: 1.7 million, the estimated number of Muslim immigrants the US has admitted since 1992.
To Read: Avi Issacharoff reveals some new info about the peace deal that the Palestinians rejected a few years ago (he even has pictures of the original map)-
In a stunning development that calls into question the basic willingness of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept any peace agreement with the Jewish State, TheTower.org has obtained a hand-drawn map created by Abbas documenting a 2008 peace proposal outlined to him by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert – which Abbas rebuffed – and has confirmed the existence and details of the settlement offer in an exclusive interview with Olmert.
Quote: "We can call the police, and of course we can disperse them, but we do not want to cause a war and hatred between brothers because of a swearing-in ceremony. We are here for them as well, even if they do not realize it, and it is our duty to prevent unnecessary clashes", the commander of an ultra-orthodox brigade in the IDF commenting on the decision to postpone the swearing in ceremony due to tensions and threats from the Haredi community.
Number: 450 mllion, the number of packs of cigarettes sold anually in Israel.
The Middle East
Headline: Death toll rises in Lebanon clashes
To Read: Aaron David Miller has changed his mind regarding the survival prospects of 'the myth of the Arab State'-
Several months ago I wrote that I didn’t think the Arab state system would likely implode in the face of these new challenges. Too many in the region and outside have an investment in maintaining the fiction. And the arc of change is a long one. We shouldn't impose the bias and prejudice of low expectations. Perhaps in time democratic life and better governance will indeed prevail.
But for now the trend lines don’t look promising at all, and you have to wonder what, if anything, will alter them. The three elements required for democratic life in any form simply aren't evident in the Arab world: leaders who rise above sectarian, religious and ethnic affiliations and govern in the best interests of the nation as a whole; institutions that are deemed authoritative, legitimate and inclusive and not mere playthings in the elites’ struggle for power; and an accommodative process that contains and manages even the bitterest of debates without spilling over into violence or political pressures that paralyze national life.
Quote: “[Saudi Arabia] will protest strongly and inform international agencies, including the United Nations and the Arab League, in order to adopt a suitable stance against Iran”, the Saudi FM, Prince Saud al-Faisal, commenting on reports of Iranian espionage.
Number: 44, the number of kilos of enriched uranium Iran has produced in the past three months according to a new IAEA report.
The Jewish World
To Read: Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz writes about the Jewish prohibition on 'Shvuot shav' (false oaths) and on how they apply to promises made by politicians-
There are those who maintain that you have to make impossible promises in order to get elected or stay in business. However, we should always ask whether a promise is at least plausible or whether it deserves to be denounced as a shevuat shav. An informed market and an informed electorate, with real accountability for those who keep and fail to keep their promises, are the way forward for a just and prosperous society. The Torah teaches us not to publicly set false expectations for personal gain. We should take this lesson to heart in our personal lives and raise the bar in our public discourse.
Quote: “the best communicator in the Jewish world today… the moral compass of the country… the major moral voice in the country” superlatives abound in a special event in honor of Britain's retiring Chief Rabbi, Jonathan sacks.
Number: 19, the percentage of LA's 1.8 million registered voters who participated in the historic mayoral elections.