To Read: Former Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill believes that the Syrian situation exposes deeper issues in American foreign policy (namely, that it doesn't have a foreign policy)-
President Barack Obama’s oft-stated view that “we need some nation building at home,” combined with his antiseptic waging of drone warfare, indicates that he is erring on the side of the isolationists of both the left and the right. Unilateralism, it seems, is fast becoming the isolationists’ internationalism.
What the US needs is to explain better to its own people why America should engage more deeply with the Middle East’s mounting problems. This is not to say that the US should necessarily engage with every problem. But, whether America is engaged or not, it does need a policy.
Quote: “The president, I think, has the right to choose the team around him, particularly as far as military advisers are concerned, but this assessment that General Dempsey gave of how to address the challenges in Syria are beyond anything that any rational military thinker that I know would ever contemplate”, Senator John McCain announcing that he won't delay General Dempsey's nomination for a second term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Number: 16-2, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's vote in favor of Samantha Power.
To Read: Paul Morland takes a look at some curious demographic trends in Israeli society (it appears that the fertility rate among Arabs and Jews is surprisingly close)-
My objective in presenting this information to the public is not to support one side or the other in Israel’s “Left-Right” debate. Indeed, both sides can take some comfort from it; for the Right it can be used to argue that a territorially maximalist position is at least more demographically feasible than it was a decade or two ago, from the Left’s point of view it can be used to deflate what is sometimes taken to be demographic panic aimed at the Arab citizens of Israel. Whatever policy conclusions are drawn, the quality of the debate will surely be improved by a greater appreciation of the facts.
Quote: “There is no need to have this type of engagement with the British, who were pushing this matter and are well aware of the intelligence. But with countries like Germany, France and Spain, who are new at this, all types of information will have to be shared”, Israeli diplomatic officials commenting on Israel's decision to share intel on Hezbollah with EU members following the EU's decision to label it as a terrorist organization.
Number: $7.4b, Israel's record breaking arms export revenue.
The Middle East
To Read: Jonathan Schanzer argues that this is a great time to effectively cripple Hamas and that this could be a great thing for the peace process-
While the math is fuzzy, one thing is clear -- the Egyptian army's tunnel operations are slowly strangling Hamas. If one or more of the Islamist movement's other funders cut back their aid even a little, its financial crisis will only deepen. The more acute the crisis, the more Gazans will grow frustrated with their Islamist rulers. A Muslim Brotherhood government just fell unexpectedly in Cairo -- if Hamas doesn't watch its back, it could happen again in Gaza.
For John Kerry and his tenuous peace initiative, this is a window of opportunity that should not be ignored.
Quote: “At this point, we can say that Khan al-Assal has been liberated entirely and is in our control, which means that Aleppo’s countryside is in our control”, Syrian rebels claiming they have conquered the entire western area of Aleppo, Syria's second largest city.
Number: 40, the percentage of Egyptians who live on less than 2$ a day.
The Jewish World
To Read: Rabbi Josh Yuter examines Jewish tradition's theological problems with the idea of 'soul mates' ('Bashert')-
Although the idea of divinely matched soul mate is certainly romantic, it does pose significant theological problems especially in the aftermath of divorce or abusive relationships. Perhaps the most significant theological challenge to the preordained bashert is the denial of one's free will. In fact this definition of bashert is explicitly rejected by Maimonides on these very grounds.
Quote: "Mr. Weiner says he is staying in the mayoral race. To those who know his arrogance and have grown tired of the tawdry saga he has dragged the city into, this is not surprising", a NYT editorial calling Anthony Weiner to leave the NY Mayorial race after the recent debacle.
Number: 550 the number of chapters of the Hillel organization.