To Read: According to Leslei Gelb, the White House's focus in Syria should be on Al Quaeda-
Tactically, President Obama is operating true to form in Syria; he’s wisely avoiding ever creeping military measures on behalf of rebels, many of whom might well turn out to be even worse than the already viperous President Assad. But also typically, the Obama team seems to be without a longer-term strategy that explicitly and relentlessly locks onto the real emerging threat within Syria – al Qaeda and its devious affiliates. This strategy would go way beyond simply dumping a nasty dictator, or pressing for illusory deals between Assad and a Turkey-based rebel group devoid of meaningful power. Meantime, Syrians still drown in bloodletting, chaos, and refugees, while the Assad side weakens only by endless inches.
Quote: “When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was, ‘You’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists”, former Whitehouse spokesman Robert Gibbs in an interview for CNBC.
Number: 48, the percent of Americans who think that America's 'aid to the world's needy' should be decreased.
To Read: Chuck Freidlich criticizes J-street for trying to solve the Israeli Palestinian problem through pressuring Washington-
Israel’s national security stands on three pillars – the resolve of its people, the strength of the IDF and the US-Israeli relationship. Those who endanger any of these pillars, even if well-intentioned, endanger Israel’s security. If pluralism in thought and organizational structure has enriched American-Jewish life internally, the unity in support for Israel was always the basis of the strength of the US-Israeli relationship.
In the final analysis, only Israelis bear the responsibility for determining their future. American Jews who are deeply concerned about Israel’s future have a right to speak out, but the place to achieve a two-state solution is in the diplomatic arena. The place to advocate changes in Israel’s policies is within Israel’s democratic process and the plethora of American- Jewish organizations, many of which take a strong pro-peace position.
It is not in Washington, lobbying the US administration. On the US-Israeli relationship American Jews must stand united. J Street leads only to a dead end.
Quote: "Why do we have an agreement with Yair Lapid? Because of the Likud's decision to leave Habayit Hayehudi out of the government… Were it not for this, there would have been a Livni-Kadima-Shas-Yesh Atid-Likud government, without the religious Zionists. This government would toe-the-line of Livni – giving up Jerusalem and the city of Ariel, and obsessed with the PLO – this is Labor", Naftali Bennett, about the Yesh Atid- Jewish Home Pact.
Number: 51, the percentage of Israelis who would like to see a government without ultra-orthodox.
The Middle East
Read: Shlomi Eldar sees Abu Mazen as the one main thing standing between Palestine and a third Intifada-
Nevertheless, there is still an enormous difference between what happened in the first two Intifadas and what is happening now. That difference is called Palestinian Chairman Abu Mazen.
Despite all the criticism, some of it justified, that is being leveled against him, the man standing at the helm of the Palestinian Authority today is someone who not only says, but does, everything in his power to ensure that the Palestinian struggle in the West Bank remains nonviolent and is unarmed. Abu Mazen and the Palestinian police are a calming factor in the field. They oversee every demonstration to make sure that they don’t spin out of control, and they receive instructions to maintain order directly from the [Palestinian headquarters] Mukata’a in Ramallah. They bear the brunt of the blows and follow the “spirit of the commander” committed to non-violence. This stands in sharp contrast to the two previous Intifadas, when the commander Abu Ammar, better known as Yasser Arafat, loudly mouthed his bellicose slogans to incite the territory, thereby bringing the Palestinian Authority to the pathetic, divided state that it finds itself in today. The difference now is that today there is also genuine cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in matters of security. What is most important of all, however, is the fact that both parties share a common interest that will not be another Intifada.
Quote: “In a rare occasion in Oscar history, the First Lady announced the winner for Best Picture for the anti-Iran Film ‘Argo,’ which is produced by the Zionist company Warner Bros", Iranian Fars news agency, Iran's major government news outlet, reporting the results of yesterday's Oscars.
Number: 1,100, the number of Palestinian prisoners who are continuing yesterday's hunger strike.
The Jewish World
To Read: Adina Friedman believes that Morocco exemplifies a peaceful alternative for Jewish Arab relations-
As an Ashkenazi Jew growing up in Israel, the predicaments and nuances of Moroccan Jewish identity were largely invisible to me, as their experiences were largely marginalized by, or absent from the local narrative. Morocco enabled me to see and better understand some of these. Though things have changed in the last several decades, in Israel, being an Arab-Jew came to be viewed by most as a contradiction in terms. Yet Jews in Morocco saw little, if any, contradiction between the Arab, Amazigh, and Jewish dimensions of their identity.
Positive attitudes toward Jews do not necessarily imply acceptance of Israeli policies. Nevertheless, as Israel struggles to define its identity and its place in the region, and as its neighbors challenge its existence and legitimacy, Morocco offers a pertinent example that defies traditional “East-West” categories, and re-contextualizes the Jewish experience in the region. By embodying possibilities for reconciling “Jewishness” and “Arabness,” Morocco offers ways for Arab-Jews to understand their own identities in a new light. And as the Arab-Israeli conflict persists, Morocco reaffirms historical examples of coexistence.
Quote: “I’m happy to see so many Americans here. I hope you all become Israelis and don’t return to America”, celebrated Israeli novelist A.B Yehoshua speaking to young American Jews
Number: 39-3, the result of a vote against a motion for Boycotting Israel at Oxford's Magdalen College.