To Read: Thomas Friedman suggests a new approach to overcoming the global diplomatic rut the US is currently in:
So what’s a secretary of state to do? I’d suggest trying something radically new: creating the conditions for diplomacy where they do not now exist by going around leaders and directly to the people. And I’d start with Iran, Israel and Palestine. We live in an age of social networks in which every leader outside of North Korea today is now forced to engage in a two-way conversation with their citizens. There’s no more just top-down. People everywhere are finding their voices and leaders are terrified. We need to turn this to our advantage to gain leverage in diplomacy.
Quote: "We will continue to make clear that only through direct negotiations can the Palestinians and the Israelis ... achieve the peace they both deserve", White House spokesman Jay Carney responds to the Israeli election
Number: $52 billion, the size of the shortfall the pentagon will face this fiscal year if Congress and the White House do not reach an agreement by March.
To Read: Jeffrey Goldberg believes that religion and state may very well take center stage in the next Israeli coalition:
A Netanyahu-Bennett-Lapid coalition would be far more likely to take bold action against another of Israel’s threats, the rise of the ultra-Orthodox, than to take on the peace process. Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Haredi men don’t serve in the army and are on the public dole so that they can pursue full-time religious studies. And Haredi political parties are becoming more radical (ayatollah-like, in some ways), demanding sex segregation on public buses and generally trying to erase the line dividing synagogue from state. Lapid’s popularity is derived in large part from his stalwart stance against the privileges accrued by the ultra-Orthodox.
Quote: "Israelis today said no to extremism and no to anti-democratic policies." Yair Lapid, the big winner of the 2013 elections.
Number: 19, the number of projected seats the surprising Yesh Atid party is expected to have in the next Knesset.
The Middle East
Headline: Jordanians vote in parliamentary polls
To Read: US inaction in the Middle East needs to be examined, according to Paul Wolfowitz:
Policy makers should never underestimate the risks of action in the face of any armed conflict, but neither should they underestimate the risks of inaction. Refusing to give people the means to defend themselves—especially when their interests are congruent with those of the U.S.—can end up forcing America to do much more later. It can also breed lasting resentment by the people we abandon.
Quote: "Promoters of further sanctions, isolation and other punitive measures aim to make war with Iran inevitable. But such a war would make the US war in Iraq look like a walk in a park.", former Iranian official Hossein Mousavian, in a cautionary opinion piece in the Guardian.
Number: 23%, the incredibly low voter turnout in the Arab Israeli city Umm El Fahm.
The Jewish World
To Read: James Kirchick discusses the high profile controversy in Germany surrounding the Jakob Augstein affair:
But just because Augstein does not deserve to be on a list of the world’s top 10 anti-Semites does not render him innocent of the charge. Nor does it make him worthy of the righteous defense he is receiving from so many prominent figures in German media, who are ignoring the content of what he wrote in favor of lampooning how silly it is to list him alongside the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Indeed, perhaps the most problematic aspect of the German debate illuminated by the Augstein affair—and one that Broder unwittingly played into by likening Augstein to Julius Streicher—is the tendency to view anti-Semitism as the exclusive province of the extreme right.
Quote: ‘Jewish people are living in fear in Europe’, European Parliament President Martin Schultz in a speech at the European parliament.
Number: 103, the number of years a US Jewish religious counselor was sentenced to after molesting a woman who came to him with questions of faith.