To Read: Flynt Leverett and Hilary Mann Leverett believe that the future of America's standing as a great power is largely dependent on the negotiations with Iran-
America’s Iran policy is at a crossroads. Washington can abandon its counterproductive insistence on Middle Eastern hegemony, negotiate a nuclear deal grounded in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and get serious about working with Tehran to broker a settlement to the Syrian conflict. In the process, the United States would greatly improve its ability to shape important outcomes there. Alternatively, America can continue on its present path, leading ultimately to strategic irrelevance in one of the world’s most vital regions—with negative implications for its standing in Asia as well.
Quote: “I am very confident of our ability to work through them. That is why I am here”, John Kerry, continuing to show his trademark optimism in face of the many obstacles to Middle East Peace.
Number: 49, the impressive percentage point margin by which Bill de Blasio won the NYC mayoral elections.
To Read: A JPost editorial claims that the recent conversion bill is beside the point, since Israel's non-Jewish immigrants (at least non-Jewish according to the Halacha) are simply not interested in converting-
The simple fact is that most non-Jewish immigrants see no reason to convert to Judaism. Coming from an agnostic background, these immigrants integrate very easily into secular Israeli society. They learn Hebrew, celebrate the Jewish holidays like their secular Israeli neighbors and serve in the army – that ultimate Israeli act of patriotism.
Quote: "The Palestinian-Israeli negotiations broke down during the session on Tuesday night", a senior Palestinian official reporting about a crisis in the Israel-Palestine negotiations.
Number: 36, only 36 African migrants were caught crossing into Israel in 2013.
The Middle East
To Read: Stuart Gottlieb examines the possible lessons that the human rights community can learn from the Syria crisis-
There is no sugar-coating the damage done to the cause of humanitarian intervention by the global wavering over Syria. This is particularly stark when considering that the conflict has occurred so closely on the heels of the 2011 Libya intervention, which many human-rights activists initially touted as a model for future application of so-called “responsibility to protect” (R2P)—the new U.N. doctrine that supposedly obligates all states to protect civilians whenever and wherever they are threatened with mass killing.
But for those willing to temper their enthusiasm and expectations for what may be accomplished in the realm of humanitarian intervention, the Syria case offers several valuable lessons which may help facilitate development of a more realistic approach to protecting international human rights.
Quote: "We obviously bring scepticism born of years of dealing with this regime, years of obfuscation in other contexts, and of course a lot of broken promises within the context of this current war", US Ambassador at the UN Samantha Power voicing skepticism about the Assad's regime willingness to eliminate its chemical stockpiles.
Number: $13.5m, the insufficient amount of money the OPCW has raised so far for its Syrian chemical weapons mission.
The Jewish World
To Read: NYU's Michah Gottlieb explains why he left conservative Judaism in a provocative article-
I was told that Conservative Jews were as serious in their commitment to Halacha as Orthodox Jews were, but they differed in that they recognized halachic change. But as I knew no Conservative Jews who cared about Halacha, my teenage sensitivity to inconsistency led me to see Conservative Judaism as inauthentic.
I was also dissatisfied by what I saw as the self-preoccupation of Conservative Judaism. While Orthodoxy saw itself as fulfilling God’s will through halachic obedience, and Reform Judaism as saving the world through social justice, or tikkun olam, I was constantly being encouraged to work for the advancement of the Conservative movement. I felt no mission driving Conservative Judaism, which for an idealistic youth was highly unsatisfying.
Quote: “The difference is there are 7 million Israelis and 1.3 billion Chinese“, Dr. Dieter Graumann, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, explaining why many German politicians are promoting a boycott on Israel while no one is promoting a similar boycott on China following territorial desputes about Tibet.
Number: $1.8b, Hedge fund giant SAC Capital Advisors, led by Jewish billionaire Steven A Cohen, was ordered to pay $ 1.8b in penalties, the largest penalty in history for insider trading.
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