To Read: Former US Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian views the US' intense diplomatic efforts on the Israel-Palestine front as an example of what should be done with Iran and Syria as well-
To the Obama administration's credit, it has reinitiated direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to try to achieve a permanent two-state solution. In this central issue, the United States is engaging in intensive diplomacy that goes beyond conflict management to conflict resolution. That should be the paradigm it follows toward the Syrian crisis and Iran. The United States can react to "one damn thing after another" in the Middle East or it can make the difficult but much more strategic effort to help resolve the underlying issues catalyzing conflicts throughout the region. It is a question of political will and commitment to promote and safeguard our national security interests and humanitarian values. In this respect, this is not a formula for overextension in the Middle East, but for the deliberate conduct of coherent and reinforcing diplomacy to achieve progress on issues that affect regional and global peace and security.
Quote: "I'd say no. They've got a long way to go to demonstrate the kind of credibility that would lead us to believe we can move in a conciliatory direction. And sanctions are what has strengthened the administration's hand", Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), one of several Democrats in congress who are opposed to the lifting of sanctions against Iran, even if the President asks.
Number: 2, the number of days left before the debt default deadline.
To Read: Lee Perlman, Executive Director of the America-Israel cultural foundation, writes about Israel's theater addiction-
Israeli theater is at the core of our Art-up nation. Interestingly, we’re in the top five around the world of per capita consumption of theater, including over three million theater visits per year in the seven major repertory theaters alone – Tel Aviv (Habima, Cameri, Bet Lessin), Jaffa (Gesher), Jerusalem (Chan), Haifa and Beersheba. My colleague, Dan Urian, has coined the oxymoron “synagogue for the secular” (Bet Knesset l’hilonim sounds better in Hebrew), referring to Israeli theater’s role as a venue for reflection for a large subset of Jewish Israelis about their identities, problems, fears and hopes. Observant Jewish Israelis and Arab citizens also create and consume theater here and to varying degrees are integrated into the mainstream theater activities.
Quote: "in the present circumstances, keeping people incarcerated for up to three years, as allowed by the law, is unconstitutional. Furthermore, the state intends to keep these migrants locked up for the entire period of three years permitted by the law. Some of these people have been imprisoned for over a year", Israel's Supreme Court President's words in last month's ruling against prolonged incarceration of immigrants (here is the government's response).
Number: 31, the percentage of Israelis who are at risk of falling below the poverty line.
The Middle East
To Read: According to Udi Dekel and Orit Perlov, the Syrian chemical disarmament deal has changed the power balance in Syria in Assad's favor-
Between President Obama’s August 31, 2013 declaration on a retaliatory action against Syria and the abandonment of the attack option in exchange for dismantlement of Syria’s chemical weapons program, a dramatic change has taken place in the balance of power among the parties battling for the future of Syria. In an ironic if not absurd development, the diplomatic agreement has granted President Assad legitimacy, and made him a partner of sorts to the international community in implementing the resolution on Syria’s chemical disarmament. The long list of crimes perpetrated by Assad over two and a half years, which killed tens of thousands of innocent Syrian civilians, has ostensibly been erased.
Quote: "We are now in a delicate state reflecting the turmoil in the relationship and anyone who says otherwise is not speaking honestly", Nabil Fahmy, Egypt's FM, describing the precarious state of US-Egypt relations.
Number: 21, the number of people killed by a blast in southern Syria.
The Jewish World
To Read: J.J Goldberg doesn't understand the excessive pessimism about the Pew stats on intermarried Jews-
Will their children be Jewish? Who knows? They themselves weren’t supposed to be Jewish, but they are. And they have a choice.
But this good news will never convince the hand-wringers. Every new survey provides new evidence that the end is just around the corner.
In May 1964, Look magazine published a cover story titled “The Vanishing American Jew.” Forty-nine years later, Look has vanished, but the Jews are still here. The children are turning out fine.
Quote: “What would be a better act of generosity and reconciliation than the return of the Grand Synagogue of Toledo to the Jewish people and particularly to the Jewish community of Spain, as a symbol of dialogue between Jews and Christians”, Isaac Querub, the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain, asking the country's Catholic officials to give the historic Toledo synagogue back to the Jews.
Number: 70, Monday was the 70th anniversary of the Sobibor revolt.