Headline: Amid Pressure, House Passes Fiscal Deal
To Read: Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense
The list of Hagel endorsements keeps getting longer. Now former U.S. ambassador to Syria Ryan Crocker weighs in with his own support:
Mr. Hagel understands far better than most the evils of Hamas and Hezbollah, both backed by Iran. He also appreciates the importance of looking in and among those groups for fissures that might lead to internal debate, dissension or division—or even to areas of agreement with the U.S.
Quote: "We believe that education is the key to Syria’s future, and right now scholars can’t teach and students can’t pursue their education. Our goal is to make sure that however long the crisis lasts, Syria continues to produce the leaders it will need." Daniela Kaisth ofthe Institute of International Education, which is campaigning to raise $5 million to aid Syrian students and academics
Number: 65% The number of Palestinians who believe the U.S. has made a positive contribution to peace and stability in the Arab world
To Read: Overheated rhetoric on Israeli settlements
The Washington Post editorial board advises the international community to dial down declarations that Israel's E-1 construction is a death knell for a two-state solution:
The exaggerated rhetoric is offensive at a time when the Security Council is refusing to take action to stop the slaughter of tens of thousands of civilians — including many Palestinians — by the Syrian regime. But it is also harmful, because it puts pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to make a “freeze” on the construction a condition for beginning peace talks.
Quote: “We believe in dramatically different things. And unfortunately, you can’t believe Bibi Netanyahu.” Former elite unit commander and Labor's 'defense' candidate Omer Barlev has few kind words for the prime minister
Number: $500,000 The sum far-rightist Likudnik Moshe Feiglin proposes to pay Palestinian families to leave the West Bank
The Middle East
Headline: Clashes close Syria's Aleppo airport
To Read: Morsi Should Visit Jerusalem
Writing in the Daily Beast, Aaron Magid calls on the Egyptian president to follow in Sadat's footsteps in an effort to kickstart the peace process.
If Morsi visited Israel, he would not have to abandon his support for the Palestinian people. Part of his trip would most likely include a prayer service at the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, confirming to the international community the Muslim connection to East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Quote: "The objectives of the Velayat 91 drill are to display the Islamic Republic's power in establishing security in seas and to convey the message of peace and friendship to regional countries" Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari on his country's ongoing military exercises
Number: 3,800 The number of Syrian refugees who have entered Turkey in the past three days
The Jewish World
To Read: Is That Christmas Tree Kosher?
We forgot to link to the article I wrote for IHT-NYT last week. Christmas is over, but the story is still relevant:
I understand why some Israelis don’t appreciate the tendency of hotels and restaurants in the Jewish homeland to celebrate end-of-year Christian holidays; they see it as a sign of a cultural inferiority complex. But they should appreciate even less a rabbinate that infringes on people’s freedom to celebrate whatever they want.
Quote: "Which is a greater sin – desecration of [the sabbath] or homosexuality? Is it appropriate and fair to say to our communities that we have no problem with all of the Jewish people's sins… but that there is only one scapegoat?" Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein, head of Har Etzion Yeshiva in the West Bank, says Jews should not single gays out for their 'sins'
Number: 59% The percentage of Jewish people in the world living in countries where they are a minority group