To Read: Hagel says critics distort his views on Israel, Iran
In an interview with the published shortly after he was nominated as defense secretary, Chuck Hagel hits back at critics who claim he is anti-Israel.
While he has been "hanging out there in no-man's land unable to respond to charges, falsehoods and distortions," Hagel said, a negative assessment of his record by critics and opponents took on a life of its own. But the fact is that there is "not one shred of evidence that I'm anti-Israeli, not one (Senate) vote that matters that hurt Israel."
Quote: "Chuck Hagel is the leader that our troops deserve" Barack Obama announces his pick for defense secretary
Number: 20% The proportion of the United States federal budget spent on defense in 2011
To Read: 'There won't be a Palestinian state within Israel'
Naftali Bennet tells the Guardian that his Jewish Home party wants a 'more realistic approach' to the Israel-Palestinian conflict
Mounting European criticism of Israeli government policies, especially settlement expansion, was of concern, but was misguided, he said. "It's a result of ignorance and lack of knowledge from our European friends. It's also the result of a confused policy from our own government, which sends mixed messages. You can agree or disagree with my views, but I'm very clear: a Palestinian state would be a disaster for the next 200 years and would ensure continuous strife. What we are facing is a determined Muslim entity that wants to destroy Israel."
Quote: "More and more Israelis are becoming more and more religious and traditional. We now see synagogues and mikvehs even in kibbutzim" United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni
Number: NIS 2.46 million The amount spent on routine maintenance of the prime minister's residence in 2011
The Middle East
To Read: Saudi Arabia Faces New Challenge From Its Restive Youth
Saudi's young are going online to express their frustrations, writes Barbara Slavin of Al-Monitor
A Saudi woman confronted by religious police and ordered to leave a Riyadh shopping mall because she was wearing lipstick and nail polish filmed the encounter and posted it on YouTube on May 23, 2012. It was viewed nearly two million times in only a few weeks... Manal Al Sharif led a 2011 campaign against the ban on female driving by filming herself driving and posting the video, which soon went viral. In 2012, Hamza Kashgari, a 23-year-old blogger and writer, created an uproar by posting an imaginary conversation with the Prophet Muhammad on Twitter in which Kashgari said he would treat the Prophet as a mere human being.
Quote: “A step-by-step process based on reciprocity is easy to talk about, but in practice it’s much harder for us to give Iran something of equal value in return” A US official acknowledges the difficulties in dealing with Iran over its nuclear program
Number: 2 The number of years Kuwaiti Ayyad al-Harbi got in jail for insulting the emir on Twitter
The Jewish World
To Read: In tense Swedish city, young Muslim crusades against anti-Semitism
The Times of Israel profiles the son of Iranian immigrants has won an award for his efforts to promote tolerance and to educate about the Holocaust
“I found out Jews are fleeing Malmo, that they feel scared and unsafe on the streets,” says Derakhti, who is studying to be a youth worker at Malmo University and Folkhögskola Hvilan college, both in southern Sweden. “And then I thought that something needs to be done. We can’t keep on letting this happen — not in a country like Sweden, and not in my hometown of Malmo.”
Quote: "I trust that the confirmation process will provide an opportunity for Senator Hagel to address concerns about his positions, which seem so out of sync with President Obama’s clear commitment on issues like Iran sanctions, isolating Hamas and Hezbollah and the president’s strong support for a deepening of U.S. Israel strategic cooperation" ADL chief Abe Foxman on Hagel's nomination
Number: 200 The number of years since the death of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, known to Hassidim as the “Alter Rebbe”