To Read: According to Jordan Chandler Hirsch and Sam Kleiner, whether you are in favor of increased US involvement in Middle East affairs or against it, Israel is the answer-
Iran, to be sure, poses a lesser threat to the United States than the Soviet Union. Yet its drive for regional hegemony comes exactly as the United States is attempting to disengage from the region. That makes the strategic logic of relying on Israel to guarantee U.S. interests more clear than it has been in a generation for Republicans and Democrats alike. Those who want the United States to intervene more actively in the Middle East can take solace in the fact that the United States still has a means of striking back at Iran and containing other possible regional threats, like Syria’s aborted attempt to develop its own nuclear bomb. Those who want the United States to get as far away from the Middle East as possible, meanwhile, can be happy that Israel will do the fighting while America extracts itself.
Quote: "We overestimate our ability to determine outcomes" former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warning against a Syria intervention.
Number: 41, the number of countries involved in the US navy's exercise in the gulf (an exercise which is 'not about Iran').
To Read: Itamar Rabinovich and Tamara Wittes point out the ever-so-fragile state of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty-
In Egypt, the treaty is even more clearly under threat. The Muslim Brotherhood has long called for a referendum on the treaty, viewing the restrictions on Egyptian forces in the Sinai as an affront to national sovereignty. The Brothers condemned Morsi’s involvement in resolving the Gaza crisis last year, portraying it as kowtowing to Israel.
CommentsIn fact, Morsi is under fire from both the left and the right for upholding former President Hosni Mubarak’s obliging approach to Israel, as well as for reasserting Mubarak’s authoritarian bargain – diplomatic and financial support in exchange for “stability” – with the United States. Faced with a collapsing economy and approaching elections, the temptation for Morsi to stoke nationalist, anti-Israel sentiment will become stronger. A major incident on the border could be enough to push him over the edge.
Quote: “The Finance Ministry doesn’t have the funding for this. We expect very heavy cuts… I doubt if there will be an additional budget so that we can give incentives and rewards”, a finance ministry representative telling the Peri universal draft committee that there's no money for implementing proper universal draft in Israel at the moment.
Number: $127,000, the amount of money paid for PM Netanyahu's 'rest chamber', installed for his four hour flight to Tatcher's funeral last month (the subject of a great deal of outrage in Israel).
The Middle East
To Read: Reuel Marc Gerecht believes that many western Iranian experts tend to be blinded by the remnants of past Iranian cultural glory, and tend to over-interpret signs of pragmatism in the Iranian regime-
The omnipresent hypocrisies of the revolutionary elite don’t really touch their faith since religion in the Islamic Republic has become “secularized.” There is the political creed, which is primary, and then there is personal faith, which is between you and the Almighty. The same secularizing process is now happening to the empowered Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Westerners, with their Christian roots, have an extraordinarily hard time digesting the obviously irreligious political maneuvering and corruption of sincere, deadly serious Islamists. Westerners see contradictions and smell pragmatism; radical Muslims see right through the contradictions to the categorical imperative: hatred of the United States, Jews, and Israel (the order may vary, but all three are always there). Whether Rafsanjani’s, Khamenei’s, and senior guard commanders’ children are partying hard in London tells you little about their parents’ conception of Islam or tolerance for Western culture (and little about the children’s commitment to their parents’ creed). It tells you nothing about why the revolutionary elite has so consistently used terrorism as both statecraft and soulcraft. VIP hypocrisies are a digression from the fundamental observation made by the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens: Mullahs who can’t make up their minds whether it’s lawful to bash a woman’s head in for having sex outside wedlock ought not to have access to a nuclear weapon.
Quote: "The Syrian opposition was on the verge of taking over Assad's weapons caches and that is why Israel attacked Syria", Abdul Qader Saleh, rebel commander of Syria's Al-Tawhid Brigade claiming Israel is helping Assad remain in power.
Number: 74, the number of lashes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad might face for violating election regulations, according to local press reports.
The Jewish World
To Read: Adam Blitz potently describes the Passover Seder he spent with the Jews of Damascus, a dying breed-
Today Damascus is a relic of my travels. My hosts are long gone, too: to Brooklyn, I am told. The Old City synagogues are abandoned, and the ancient village of Jobar, now a suburb of Damascus, has fallen victim once again, albeit to a very different conflict. My attention is now taken up with reporting the demise of historic Jewish Heritage sites in the Middle East. Should Damascus fall, as many of us believe it will, there remains the very real possibility that there will soon be no trace of a Jewish past in Syria at all. It is tragic but not unique. For now, all I can do to calm my fears is to piece together the evidence of bygone years and invoke Mnemosyne, the goddess of Memory, to whom I am also captive.
Quote: “but we found that with certain issues, if you ask is Israel an apartheid state, 50% of people said yes”, American Jewish Organizations executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein in an interview about American attitudes toward Israel.
Number: 600, the number of pieces of art New York City's Center for Jewish History is contributing to Googe art.
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