To Read: According to Mideast specialist Mark Lynch, the US has some serious thinking to do about its relations with Saudi Arabia in the context of the Arab spring-
America's alliance with Saudi Arabia remains the greatest contradiction inherent in its attempt to align itself with popular aspirations for change in the region. A Saudi exception certainly makes things such as coordinating the containment of Iran easier for diplomats on a daily basis. But it sustains and perpetuates a regional order which over the long term is costly to sustain and clearly at odds with American normative preferences.
Quote: "We will do what we must do to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Our policy is not containment, it is prevention. And the clock is ticking." John Kerry at his confirmation hearings.
Number: $184m, the new secretary of state's personal net worth.
Headline: PM offers Lapid FM or Treasury portfolio
To Read: Shmuley Boteach defends the Israeli people's right to define its own interests in a passionate JPost op-ed -
No Israeli Prime Minister has ever been as American as Bibi. And yet no Prime Minister has so successfully resisted the pressure from the leader of a country he loves so much for a country he loves even more. And the Israeli people, in reelecting Bibi, presumably amid the consternation of President Obama, are finally realizing that Israel cannot ultimately be protected from Washington but Jerusalem, especially when the current American Administration is not in step with the strong sympathy of the American people for a tiny and just nation fighting for its life.
Quote: "Many of our best friends are telling us ... 'Don't worry, if worst comes to worst the world will inevitably help'. But it cannot be taken for granted.'", Ehud Barak at Davos.
Number: 26, the number of women in the next Knesset.
The Middle East
Headline: Clashes in Egypt lead up to anniversary
To Read: Cynthia Schneider thinks the US should carefully reconsider its alliances in Egypt-
Two years after the Egyptian Revolution, the U.S. government finds itself again backing an authoritarian regime against the popular will. As January 25 approaches, with massive protests planned against Morsy's government, this is a precarious position for both the U.S. and Egypt.
Quote: “all I get, frankly, from the (Obama) administration is the fall of Assad is, quote, ‘inevitable.’ I agree, but what about what happens in the meantime?” John Mccain, at the Kerry confirmation hearing.
Number: 6400, the number of Syrian refugees who who have fled to Jordan since yesterday.
The Jewish World
To Read: Tablet's Rachel Shukert takes a look at Chuck Schumer's role as America's lovable Jewish uncle at Obama's inauguration:
Kidding aside, maybe it was seeing him up there on the beautifully curated It’s a Small World After All inaugural platform—and indeed, in the larger scheme of diversity that makes the Obama coalition so genuinely moving and so genuinely American—that to me, Schumer seemed emblematic of the Jewish-American experience and our unique place in the tapestry of the country. Since the vast wave of Jewish immigrants and their descendants began to make their massive contributions to American pop culture at the beginning of the 20th century, Jews, with the perspective that only centuries of suffering can give you, have long functioned as kind of color commentators on American life—I and others have written at length about how the base sensibility of American comedy is primarily a Jewish one. As Jews began to rise to positions of real power, the wisecracks became imbued with gravitas, the ability to get things done, or further yet, shape circumstances to one’s own worldview.
Quote: “In many cases, you’re talking about students who are 18 and lack the ability to communicate in English. They can’t text, they can’t read a food menu, and they can’t apply for jobs. So they say they have no choices – that the options don’t exist. And because they can’t get a job, they can’t support their families”, Sonja Sharp, a reporter for DNAinfo, sharing her experiences covering NY Haredim.
Number: 79%, the percent of Egyptians who wouldn't allow Jews to return to Egypt.