To Read: According to Michael Singh, the success of the Israeli-Palestinian talks largely depends on a change in the US' general Middle-East policy-
The United States' role as guarantor can also no longer be easily assumed. The widespread perception in the Middle East is that the United States is experiencing "Mideast fatigue" in the wake of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and would prefer to disengage. This has manifested itself not only in the uncertainty that marks U.S. policy in places like Egypt and Syria, but in deteriorating alliances across the region. This inevitably will reduce the value and credibility of U.S. security assurances to both the Israelis and the Palestinians, for which there is no alternative outside power to turn.
Quote: “To understand why I advocated tactical weapons, you would have to see the Air Force war plan that we had then. That was the God-damnedest thing I ever saw. It was a mindless obliteration of cities and populations. Anything, even a major ground war fought with nuclear weapons, was better than that”, Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the nuclear bomb and the protagonist of this curious piece.
Number: 14, the US congress' current approval rate.
To Read: The Atlantic's David Schenker believes that Israel should think carefully before sending more drones to the Sinai peninsula-
While this one incident may not have a lasting impact on the Egyptian military's popularity or local legitimacy, should Israeli strikes in the Sinai be sustained, it could erode some of the institution's luster. It could also undermine Sisi's popularity, and if he indeed harbors them, his hopes of becoming Egypt's next president. More troubling, though, if Israel continues to act as Egypt's proxy terrorist hunters, it could have the unintended effect of drawing even more militants looking to wage a jihad against Israel from this lawless desert expanse.
Quote: "The IDF air strikes were conducted in response to the rockets launched at the civilians living in the Sha’ar HaNegev regional council yesterday (Tuesday) evening", the IDF explaining an airstrike it conducted in Gaza.
Number: 100, the number of Israeli (and non-Israeli Jewish) volunteers who come to Nepal every year for educational programs and humanitarian work.
The Middle East
To Read: Amitai Etzioni argues that pushing for free elections probably isn't the way to go in Egypt-
Elections, the favorite American tool for democratization, until they turn out badly as in the Gaza strip, are widely viewed as the way out of the current impasse in Egypt. But they are most likely to leave one of the major camps—and both are important—deeply alienated. What Egypt should focus on instead is the formulation of a new constitution, employing it as an opportunity to seek a basic understanding about the future of the regime to which both side can subscribe. This is unlikely to be simply a procedure like free elections. Rather, it could be a principle: separation of state and religion.
Quote: "We welcome our brothers who have left the darkness of prison into the light of freedom and tell them they are the first, but that there are other brothers who too will leave soon. We shall not rest until they are all with us", PA President Mahmoud Abbas celebrating the prisoner release.
Number: 13, the number of reports about Syrian chemical weapons use which the UN has received.
The Jewish World
Headline: Top rabbi backs Elon despite conviction
To Read: Martin Kramer points out that Israel's new Ambassador to Washington comes from a fine line of non-natives representing the Jewish state-
So just how long does one have to live in Israel to represent it in Washington, New York, or anywhere else? The precedent set by Israel in dispatching Abba Eban, the non-Israeli ambassador of Israel, set the bar very low, and since then, each of the former Americans sent by Israel to Washington has surpassed it easily, by decades. And beyond counting years, the broader lesson is that Israel’s ambassadors should be judged strictly by their competence, not by whether they conform to some artificially construed and outdated notion of what constitutes “Israeliness.” A warm welcome home to Michael Oren and best wishes for success to Ron Dermer. And here’s to the memory of Abba Eban, who brilliantly represented the State of Israel in its first decade, without having lived there at all.
Quote: “I was embarrassed. I was ashamed of the work. And I’m grateful that I had the power to contain it all and never let anybody see it. It was bad, bad, bad." Jerry Lewis commenting on his Auschwitz clown movie.
Number: $7.4m, the worth of a set of colonial era Torah Bells, the selling of which created a huge legal dispute between America's oldest synagogue and the country’s first Jewish congregation over ownership issues.