To Read: Doyle McManus believes that Obama's new policy shift in the Middle East could cause some problematic consequences-
But subtracting high-level attention from the Middle East isn't likely to work. The region reliably produces one crisis after another, whether we give it careful attention or not. The weapons of mass destruction, the civil wars, the terrorists and the oil will still be there.
And announcing we don't care as much as we used to — even if it's mostly an attempt to avoid blame when things go wrong — is even worse. When the headline is about the U.S. walking away, it frightens our friends and emboldens our enemies, even if the fine print is more nuanced.
Quote: “We had a constructive and open exchange and agreed to continue the consultation to enhance the prospect of achieving a transparent and effective diplomatic resolution. We welcome the reaffirmation of the President’s commitment to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear capability and that all options remain viable to assure that end”, a statement made by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations following the briefing which the Jewish leaders received at the White House.
Number: $1.3b, White House officials are trying to save the US' $1.3b Egyptian aid program.
To Read: The Hoover institute's Peter Berkowitz thinks that Middle East negotiators should be more aware to the great political diversity that can be found in Israeli society (and he suggests that they read Yossi Klein Halevi's new book as a start) –
The typical critic of the Netanyahu government, like the typical supporter, fails to see in Israel’s hold on the West Bank any hard political choices, puzzling moral dilemmas, or elusive religious ambiguities.
The same is often true of left-wing and right-wing Israelis. The left tends to regard Israel’s continuing control over the West Bank as nothing but an unjust occupation that is the antithesis of the Zionist dream of Jews creating in Israel a nation like all other nations. Meanwhile, the right views Israeli settlement of the biblical Judea and Samaria as nothing less than the fulfillment of the Zionist dream of redeeming the Jewish people by making the ancestral homeland bloom and prosper.
Quote: "If the French president had canceled the speech altogether, that's his prerogative. But once he decided that the Knesset, which represents the people, is not respectable enough for him and that he'd rather do the speech outside, that's an insult to Israeli democracy and the Israeli people", A Knesset official explaining Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein's decision to publicly shun the President of France for not speaking at the Israeli parliament.
Number: 4,500, Finance Ministry is demanding a personnel cut of 4,500 IDF officers (and the IDF Chief of staff is displeased about it).
The Middle East
To Read: FP's Michael Weiss reports on the nature and the magnitude of Iran's assistance to President Assad's forces in Syria-
Without the direct military intervention of Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Qusayr and Homs this year, those territories would still be under rebel control. Not for nothing has Mehdi Taeb, a confidant of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, famously described Syria as Iran's "35th province," the loss of which would spell the fall of the Islamic Republic.
But now documentary evidence has come to light showing that Iran -- which had previously been helping the regime in Damascus sell and ship its own sanctioned oil to international buyers -- is shipping light crude into Syria under terms that practically amount to pro bono petroleum imports. Simply put, the Iranian regime is giving its natural resources away at a time when its own people are starving thanks to debilitating international sanctions on its nuclear program.
Quote: "Yes, he's been arrested and details will soon be released", an Egyptian Interior Ministry source confirming the arrest of senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam el-Arian.
Number: 26, thousands of Palestinians celebrated the release of the 26 Prisoners from Israeli jails yesterday.
The Jewish World
Headline: Jewish groups mourn Polish ex-PM
To Read: Tom Gross points out that Judaism and defending Israel were actually quite important to rock icon Lou Reed-
Perhaps even more than other American-Jewish rock stars such as Billy Joel and Bob Dylan, Lou Reed was fiercely proud of being Jewish — and included lyrics on behalf of Israel and against anti-Semitism in some of his songs.
I mention Reed’s Jewishness because not a single obituary I have read of him in the mainstream press mentions it, when for Reed it was an important factor.
Quote: "It's clearly exploded in the last 10, 20 years, I think mostly through the number of people involved in the daf yomi project", Rabbi Dov Linzer, of the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah School in New York, about the rising popularity of the Talmud.
Number: $900,000, a NYC delivery man won $900,000 in court for enduring 16 years of anti-semitic remarks from his supervisors.