Headline: Kerry makes case for robust foreign aid
To Read: Dan Friedman recalls how he inadvertently started a ridiculous rumor about Hagel:
The revelation could have doomed President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense: He gave a paid speech to a group called “Friends of Hamas.”
Fortunately for Hagel, this claim, which galloped across the Internet, was bogus. I know, because I was the unwitting source.
In the process, I became part of an inadvertent demonstration of how quickly partisan agendas and the Internet can transform an obvious joke into a Washington talking point used by senators and presidential wannabes.
Quote: "Certainly our commitment to that partnership is bipartisan and it should remain that way", Senator Marco Rubio about US-Israel relations.
Number: 22, the percentage of Americans who have a favorable view of Chuck Hagel.
To Read: Former Defense minister Moshe Arens believes that Israel needs to find a way to incorporate Arabs into the IDF-
The non-participation of Israel’s Arab citizens in military service is an anomaly which is inconsistent with the principle of equality of rights and equality of duties that exists in democratic societies. It also raises a barrier to the integration of Israel’s Arab citizens in Israel’s society. Arab youngsters must be saying to themselves that the fact that they are exempted from service in the IDF is an indication that Israel’s Jewish population evidently does not trust them to take their place in the armed forces; while Israel’s Jewish citizens see their non-participation in the defense of the country as evidence of lack of loyalty to the country. The initiative for changing this situation has to come from the Israeli government. It should be gradual and be coordinated with leading personalities in the Arab community.
Quote: "I don’t care about Abu Mazen; I'm not interested in making him stronger. I care about the people of Israel – the young, the poor, the secular – they matter. Not Abu Mazen, Abu Ali and Abu I don’t know who… who will be negotiating with Tzipi Livni. They're not interesting", Naftali Bennett about the peace process.
Number: 45, the percentage of Haredi men who were employed in 2011.
The Middle East
Read: Patrick Clawson argues that internal disagreement between Iranian harms the prospects of a nuclear deal being reached between Iran the west-
By their actions, Iranian leaders are giving the strong impression that they are so preoccupied by their internal differences that they cannot agree on, well, a damn thing. Disunity helps the enemy, Khamenei frequently says. But the world powers negotiating with Iran would be glad to see more unity in Tehran, because a more unified Iranian government would be better able to reach a deal and then implement it. That seems less and less likely. The time is rapidly approaching when the big powers, or at least the United States, need to set out a stark choice for Iran's leaders: Either accept a generous offer to resolve the nuclear impasse or be prepared for the consequences.
Quote: "Hezbollah is abusing Lebanese sovereignty to shell Syrian territory and Free Syrian Army positions. In the past week… Hezbollah has been shelling into villages around Qusayr from Lebanese territory, and that we cannot accept", General Selim Idriss, the FSA chief of staff, warning the Hezbollah.
Number: $36 billion, the amount of Egypt's international reserves on the eve of Mubarak's collapse (today the sum is $13.6 billion).
The Jewish World
To Read: The authors of a new study on Jewish secular culture in America see the modern excitement around Purim as an example of the secularization of Jewish culture in the States-
It should come as no surprise that many Jews enjoy a Purim that is light on religious devotion, because Jews are the most secular of Americans. They remain a vital community in spite of it. As authors of a new study called “American Jewish Secularism: Jewish Life Beyond the Synagogue,” we have been impressed by the richness and durability of secular Jewish culture and expressions of Jewishness beyond religion.
Only half of Jews compared with 80 percent of all Americans strongly agree that God exists. Forty-one percent of Jews never attend religious services aside from a family life-cycle event, and 87 percent of American Jews fail to observe kashrut (religious food taboos) outside their homes.
For many Jews, culture is what attracts, from political lectures at Manhattan’s 92nd St. Y on separation of church and state, to art and photography exhibitions; from Modern Hebrew classes to the revival of the Yiddish language, to the new appreciation of 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza; from the newly launched Jewish Review of Books to Sarah Silverman, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, whose comedy is both Jewish-inflected and universal. There is a revival of Jewish musical traditions such as klezmer (East European), Sephardic (Mediterranean) and mizrahi (Afro-Asian) melodies and recreational Israeli folk dancing. There are more and more commercial films and documentaries on Jewish topics feeding commercial cinema and the popular annual Jewish film and book festivals in all the major U.S. cities and which in the aggregate attract hundreds of thousands of attendees.
Quote: “He struck me as sincere, and you know, you have to be sitting there at the meeting obviously, but I also told him when he used the word Jewish lobby what it meant to Jewish people… And I told him what a double standard is. That Jewish people throughout the centuries have suffered a double standard. Everyone could be a farmer except Jewish people. Everyone could live in Moscow except Jewish people. I said when everyone else can lobby but all of a sudden when those of us who are pro-Israel lobby, it’s a negative, that’s a double standard. And I’m sure you didn’t mean it, but it harkens to the old day", Chuck Schumer recalling his meeting with Hagel.
Number: 200, the number of Jews rescued by studio head Carl Laemmle, according to his own modest estimation.