To Read: Mark Dubowitz and Reuel Marc Gerecht believe that this is the time for more US pressure and sanctions on Iran-
The U.S. and its allies seem much more likely to get the attention of the supreme leader and the Revolutionary Guards if the pain from sanctions is so intense that a choice has to be made between economic collapse and the nuclear program.
America's capacity to inflict more pain on those who are driving Tehran's nuclear effort is substantial. New financial sanctions could lock up all of Iran's currency reserves—around $70 to $80 billion—held abroad, which would effectively shut down non-humanitarian imports and collapse the rial, Iran's currency. Financial relief would only come when Iran takes steps to verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its military-nuclear program—and only through controllable accounts, in Europe, where Tehran could exchange funds for industrial goods.
Quote: "On this crucial issue the US and Israel share an identical agenda", US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro trying to reassure Israelis about Iran.
Number: 55, the number of metric tons of emergency food USAID is dispatching in the Philippines, enough to feed 20,000 children and 15,000 adults for up to five days.
To Read: Steven Strauss argues in favor of ending US aid to Israel-
Israel has become an affluent and developed country that can afford to pay for its own defense. Israeli GDP is about $250 billion dollars/year, and its per capita income is about $33,000/year. In other words, replacing all American aid would cost Israelis about 1 percent of their income per year, hardly an outrageous sum. Aside from the financial metrics, Israel has a well developed economy in other ways. For example, on the UN Human Development Index, Israel ranks 16th (between Denmark and Belgium). Israeli life expectancy at birth is 81 years, compared with only 79 years in the United States.
Also, as a general principle, people and institutions make better choices when they have to internalize costs. If the U.S. ends aid to Israel, Israelis may make better choices about their national defense and foreign policy.
Quote: "Israel is using negotiations only as a tool to avoid international pressure while on the ground it continues its colonization plans rather than peace plans… We are not looking for an extension of the interim period or any other kind of interim agreement", top Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh saying some harsh words about Israel and the negotiations.
Number: 40%, apparently, Israelis throw out 40% of their food.
The Middle East
To Read: Iranian journalist and dissident Akbar Ganji takes a look at the pragmatist elements in Iran's Revolutionary Guard and at their important role in a future détente-
To be sure, it would make no difference if the entire Revolutionary Guards wanted rapprochement if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was opposed. But even he seems to have given his quiet backing to pragmatism. Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, a commander of the Guards who was personally appointed by Khamenei to become the secretary-general of the Islamic Republic’s National Security Council, has endorsed Rouhani and Obama’s approach. On October 14, he commended both for their “commitment to diplomacy to solve and eliminate the differences” between the two countries, and for creating “a positive basis for managing their differences.” Clearly, there are members of the IRGC who would vehemently disagree with any kind words for the U.S. president, but Khamenei’s tacit endorsement would not be taken lightly.
Quote: “All we can do is hope is that these (Geneva) talks will end with the departure of Bashar al-Assad", Adib Shishakly, a member of the Syrian National Coalition, commenting on the organizations decision to join the Geneva peace talks.
Number: 63, the estimated number of rebels who have been killed since Friday in a gruesome battle in which a strategic Syrian military base has changed hands 3 times.
The Jewish World
To Read: Micah Goodman doesn't agree with the idea (presented by Hillel Halkin) that Jewish life in Israel is fuller and more meaningful than Jewish life in the Diaspora-
For 2,000 years, almost every significant work of the Jewish mind was produced without the advantage of the conditions that according to Halkin form the sine qua non of a full Jewish life and authentic Jewish culture. Indeed, the great achievement of the Diaspora was precisely the formation of a living, meaningful Judaism in the absence of a political or territorial base. To deny the worth of Jewish life outside the land of Israel is thus essentially to deny millennia of Jewish creativity.
Quote: “We renew our closeness and solidarity with the Jewish people, our older big brothers. And we pray to God that the memory of the past, the memory of past sins, helps us to be ever vigilant against any form of hate and intolerance", Pope Francis marking the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht.
Number: 900, a new website features 900 Holocaust-related recordings and transcripts made available for the first time
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