To Read: Jeffrey Goldberg talks to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about Israel and Palestine-
Hagel, like much of Washington’s foreign policy elite, still seems enamored of the idea that reaching a final agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians would help solve many of the Middle East’s other problems. I wasn’t that surprised, in fact, that he listed this item first in his description of America’s strategic challenges. Hagel is partial to a theory, known in shorthand as “linkage,” that is no longer operative in reality. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is irrelevant to the great earthquakes of recent Middle East history: the revolutions of the Arab Spring, and the nascent civil war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. But it is still an article of faith among very smart people that a peace treaty would lead to broad tranquility.
Quote: 'it is up to Saudi Arabia to make its own decisions about its own social structure and choices and the timing of whatever events", John Kerry avoiding a question about women not being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia (Elliot Abrams doesn't approve).
Number: 56, the percentage of Americans who believe that monitoring allied leaders' calls is unacceptable.
To Read: Ben Birenbaum doesn't think that Avigdor Lieberman's return to Israeli politics is as dramatically disasterous as it seems to most Israeli liberals-
Left-wing figures were apoplectic about the verdict, with Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich calling for an appeal. But the verdict could very well prove a blessing in disguise. Better that Lieberman—and what he stands for—be defeated at the ballot box than in the legal system.
Quote: "I congratulate you on your unanimous acquittal and am glad you are returning to the Government of Israel so we can continue to work together for the good of the people of Israel", Benjamin Netanyahu congratulating Lieberman, who is reportedly going to be sworn in as FM as early as next week.
Number: 56, in 2008 there were 3,716 launches of rockets and mortar shells into Israel, 56 times more than this year.
The Middle East
To Read: FP's David Kenner takes a look at the Saudis' shadow war in Syria-
While the risk of blowback has been discussed in Riyadh, Saudis with knowledge of the training program describe it as an antidote to extremism, not a potential cause of it. They have described the kingdom's effort as having two goals -- toppling the Assad regime, and weakening al Qaeda-linked groups in the country. Prince Turki, the former Saudi intelligence chief and envoy to Washington, said in a recent interview that the mainstream opposition must be strengthened so that it could protect itself "these extremists who are coming from all over the place" to impose their own ideologies on Syria.
Quote: "they use religion or abuse religion in order to justify it", Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi publicly criticizing the Human track record of Iranian President Rouhani.
Number: 9, only 9% of Iranians think that Israel is responsible for the sanctions their country is facing.
The Jewish World
To Read: Jonathan Sarna writes about a growing tendency towards exclusion among orthodox Jews-
Nowadays, though, the Orthodox community feels increasingly secure. Recent studies, including the New York Jewish Population Survey and the Pew Research Center study, indicate that its numbers and influence are rising. In more right-wing corners of the movement, which are growing the fastest, triumphalism reigns supreme.
This mood is a natural breeding ground for those seeking to create a purer, holier and more exclusive Orthodox community, one that will adhere more punctiliously to “Orthodox laws, customs and traditions.” Indeed, the RCA itself has recently fallen victim to this trend. Hamodia: The daily newspaper of Torah Jewry, ran an editorial last June, titled “The Hypocrisy of the RCA.” To those who listen closely, indeed, there are growing indications that the Orthodox “big tent” is straining, as religious policemen at home and abroad push for ever more exclusive definitions of who belongs within the Orthodox fold and who should be excluded.
Quote: "My children say that they feel like Jewish families in Germany under Hitler’s regime. Truly, everyone is against us", former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi making an interesting analogy to describe his family's unpopularity.
Number: 14, the number of sections in the Maimonides' masterwork Mishneh Torah.