Headline: Obama selects White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew to head Treasury
To Read: Compassionate Conservatism
Gertrude Himmelfarb of the Weekly Standard takes a fascinating look at the origins of the concept and how it could shape Republican policy today.
Above all, what conservatives can do, and what [Paul] Ryan and others are now trying to do, is to recapture compassion from the liberals, de-sentimentalizing while reaffirming it. Properly understood (as Tocqueville would say), compassion is a preeminently conservative virtue. It dignifies the individual (the donor of charity as well as the recipient); it thrives in a free and sound economy where the individual can “better himself”; it nurtures a spirit of independence rather than fostering the dependency that is too often the result of misguided entitlements; and it finds expression and fulfillment in civil society more often than in government. This is not to deny the validity or utility of safety nets and entitlements in principle, only to define and limit them in practice. Nor is it to deny any role to government, only, again, to define that role more precisely and to limit it more severely.
Quote: "I'm not worried about this country if we continue to do the wise things, the smart things. We lead the world; we don't dictate to the world, we don't impose to the world, we don't intervene everywhere, and we don't occupy and invade. We work with our allies. We do exactly what Eisenhower, Truman, and Marshall, and all those other wise leaders after WWII did." Chuck Hagel lays out his vision of American leadership
Number: $5.28 Million The amount defense contractor Engility Holdings Inc paid to settle allegations that it tortured Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison
To Read: Shimon Peres on Obama, Iran and the Path to Peace
The president tells Ronen Bergman for the New York Times that Obama would strike Iran if there were no alternative.
“I cannot tell you what Bibi’s considerations are on the subject of Iran. I am not his spokesman and also not [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak’s. That’s not my job. I am not looking for confrontations with them. I do think that I can explain the American pattern. America knows how to throw a punch when it has to, in order to keep the world balanced. But the punches follow a set procedure. They don’t begin by shooting. They try all the other means first — economic sanctions, political pressure, negotiations, everything possible.
“But in the end,” he added, “if none of this works, then President Obama will use military power against Iran. I am sure of it.
Quote: "We are creating with our own hands two peoples – a religious-traditional Jewish nation and a non-Jewish Israeli nation. There is no greater or more significant destruction than that." Rabbi David Stav, head of the Orthodox Tzohar organization that promotes outreach to secular Israelis announces his bid to become the next Ashkenazi chief rabbi
Number: 33 The number of people rescued from floods Wednesday by the IDF's Haredi unit Netzah Yehuda
The Middle East
To Read: The Three-State Solution
Writing in Foreign Policy, Aaron David Miller says Palestinian unity is not going to come any time soon.
Hamas is the religious manifestation of Palestinian nationalism; Fatah represents a more centrist, secular version. But the issues that divide them aren't just about seats in a parliament or who is the titular prime minister. At its core, the divide is over what Palestine is, where it is, and how its establishment is to be achieved: A secular or religious state? A state on the June 1967 borders, or over all of historic Palestine? Do Palestinians negotiate with guns or without them? Hamas may have pragmatists and hardliners on these issues. But that's the point: There is no real consensus, and given Hamas's own timeline, no urgency to produce one. And now with friendly Islamists rising in the Arab world, there's less of a rush.
Quote: "None of the controversial points about Syria will be off the table, especially those related to the recently-issued plan by [Syrian President Bashar] Al-Assad and the Egyptian-launched contact group" Tehran's envoy in Egypt announces that the Iranian FM is heading to Cairo to discuss Syria with Mohammed Morsi
Number: 4.7% The Egyptian inflation rate in December
The Jewish World
To Read: Will Yeshiva Make Abuse Report Public?
Paul Berger of the Forward writes that Yeshiva University will not say if it intends to release details of an investigation into sexual abuse allegations at its Manhattan high school.
… former students and legal experts who are experienced in abuse cases have raised concerns about Y.U.’s refusal to tell victims whether the report will ever be publicly released. Some fear it is a public relations ploy or intended to guard against potential lawsuits rather than to investigate how Y.U. staff members may have physically, emotionally and sexually abused boys over almost three decades, despite complaints from students and their families.
Quote: “When I first started doing research for the film, people thought I was crazy and I was worried I wouldn’t find anything substantial enough. But what I really found was that this song is a porthole into 200 years of Judaism’s culture and spirituality.” Roberta Grossman discusses her new film “Hava Nagila (The Movie)