To Read: David Rieff writes about Samantha Power's 'cautious' performance at her confirmation hearing-
There is nothing either new or unusual about a person seeking high office betraying or, if one wishes to be charitable, drastically modifying at least some of his or her most cherished principles. The classic formulation of this necessity was offered by the sixteenth-century Protestant king of Navarre, who is said to have remarked when offered the crown of France on condition he convert to Catholicism that “Paris is well worth a mass.” Nonetheless, such a transformation was once again on display as Samantha Power danced and dodged her way through the Senate confirmation hearing on her nomination to become U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations.
Quote: “Why wasn’t the secretary of State, secretary of Defense up at the microphone, not making any threats, just saying, we’ll be back?”, the recently retired General Matis criticizing the Obama administration's reaction to an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador.
Number: 43, the Supreme Court's record-low approval rate.
To Read: Nathan Thrall reviews several accounts of the past negotiations between Israel and Palestine-
Kerry, like his predecessors, has concentrated on 1967 issues such as borders and security, showing few signs that he has learned from past failures. One hopes that he is not under the mistaken impression that Olmert and Abbas were inches away from a real agreement. Those talks did not come close to resolving even the 1967 issues. What’s more, compared to Olmert, Netanyahu is less desperate, less willing to compromise on 1948 issues, and is making calculations in a region that has become less stable and forgiving of risk.
If renewed talks break down, Israelis may begin asking themselves whether the time has come to abandon hopes of a full peace in order to achieve—perhaps through cease-fires or further unilateral withdrawals—a partial separation. They would thereby create something more than one state but less than two, which is, in fact, all that was ever on offer.
Quote: “The negotiations are important not only to end the conflict with the Palestinians but also in light of the nuclear threat from Iran and the civil war in neighbouring Syria”, PM Netanyahu commenting on the upcoming negotiations.
Number: 350, the number of Palestinian prisoners who are (reportedly) going to be released by Israel in the coming months as part of the negotiations.
The Middle East
To Read: David Rhode claims that the Arab spring is still alive (even if dormant) in Jordan-
Yet analysts, opposition members and former government officials say that the Arab Spring has paused here -- not ended. The underlying economic issues which prompted the protests that toppled governments across the Middle East and North Africa remain in place. Arab rulers and U.S. officials are both mistaken if they think they can rely on generals and regents to produce long-term stability.
Quote: “Left unchecked, I’m very concerned that the most radical elements will take over larger segments”, David Shedd, the deputy director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, issuing a grim warning about Syria.
Number: $12b, the amount of money the interim Egyptian government has received from the Gulf States to help reignite the Egyptian economy.
The Jewish World
To Read: Gil Student takes a look at Rabbi Kook's intriguing warning against the 'dangers' of vegetarianism-
But R. Kook cautions against a looming moral hazard. When human morality progresses to a natural revulsion from eating animals, Vegetarianism will be universally appropriate. But in this unredeemed world, adopting this stringency is wrong and dangerous. It demonstrates a moral confusion, a failure to distinguish between people and animals. When people created in the divine image are suffering, R. Kook asks, how can we focus our energies on animal rights? It is “as if we have already corrected everything, already removed the reign of wickedness, falsehood, hatred and jealousy of nations, racism and tribal fighting that leads to so many deaths and the flowing of rivers of blood — as if all this disappeared from the land and there is nothing left with which this ‘human’ moralist to become righteous other than upholding ethics with animals” (p. 23).
Quote: “Many young olim who have a passion for Israel and Zionism express a desire to connect with similar minded people”, Nefesh B’Nefesh Director of Pre-Aliyah, Marc Rosenberg, commenting on a new dating site aimed at a new aliya-oriented dating site.
Number: 197, 197 years ago today Paul Reuter, the (surprisingly) Jewish founder of the Reuters news agency, was born.