To Read: According to Vali Nasr, the US needs to understand that, despite the sanctions, Iran is actually quite strong and stable these days-
America will be going to the negotiating table without the credible threat of war, facing an Iran basking in newfound domestic stability and benefiting from its pivotal role in Syria. Negotiations between the two, for the first time, cannot be based on threatening Iran into submission, but on persuading it to compromise. That demands of America an approach to match the “heroic flexibility” that Ayatollah Khamenei has called for.
Quote: "The State Department's ability to provide military assistance to Israel and other allies in the time frame that is expected and customary could be hindered, depending on the length of the shutdown," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf in a news briefing.
Number: 37, Obama's approval rating among business owners.
To Read: Veteran Israeli commentator Ehud Yaari presents his analysis of the current state of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty-
Finally, the unprecedented deployment of Egyptian troops in central and eastern Sinai has shown that the two countries do not need to resort to the highly risky exercise of revising the peace treaty or the military annex. As Egyptian presidential candidate Amr Mousa has noted on several occasions, removing one "brick" in those agreements would cause the whole wall to collapse. Instead, the two governments have been able to work out a new semipermanent arrangement in the peninsula that enhances security efforts while allowing Egyptian officials to reassure their people that past "restrictions on sovereignty" in the Sinai are no longer in place. As a result, the peace treaty brought about by the 1973 war has a good chance of surviving the upheaval still playing out on the Nile.
Quote: “Israel is upset to see that its sword has gone blunt and Iran grows more powerful day by day”, Iranian President Rouhani responding to Netanyahu's strong words about Iran.
Number: 200, the number of Palestinian men, women, and children who attended a peace event in Tel Aviv last Saturday.
The Middle East
Headline: UN urges immediate aid access to Syria
To Read: David Andrew Weinberg writes about the deep concerns the Saudis have about President Obama's recent Iran initiative-
Like Israel, these countries [Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Jordan and Egypt] fear that drawn-out negotiations or even an agreement could allow Iran to achieve a nuclear breakout capacity. Regardless, they oppose sanctions relief so long as Iran continues to threaten them with terrorism or political subversion. The Saudi reaction—cancelling an opportunity to address the world community—may be the most blunt articulation of those concerns to date, perhaps trumping even Netanyahu’s tough UN speech.
Of course, the U.S. should not predicate its foreign policy on trying to keep the government of Saudi Arabia happy. However, it is important to recognize that the current diplomatic effort to engage Iran may come at the expense of our relations with the Saudis.
Quote: “In the wake of a horrific incident involving one of the IRGC officials ... the matter is being investigated and the main reason of the event and the motive of the attacker has not been specified”, a statement made by the Iranian Revolutionary guards about the death of a commander in its cyber warfare unit.
Number: 3, the number of Egyptian soldiers killed in the Sinai peninsula, causing Egypt to issue a warning saying that it may attack targets in Gaza.
The Jewish World
To Read: A nice Tablet piece takes a look at the history of American Presidents' endorsements of Jewish artists-
What happens after Obama notwithstanding, the experience of presidents and Jewish writers presents a unique window into these artists’ comfort as Jews and their strength in shaping the culture. In all of these periods, the president of the United States served as an entry point for Jewish artists to demonstrate their relationship with American society at the time. The artists, of course, deserve credit for their artistic efforts and contributions. But in this area, it was the American presidents who have given Jews the signals concerning their level of acceptance in the goldene medina. For this reason, the ongoing and mutually beneficial relationship between our presidents and the American Jewish community will continue to help indicate where things stand for the American Jewish community, and it bears continued watching.
Quote: "Yoffie’s argument that intermarriage doesn’t necessarily lead to a departure from Jewish life is true enough but statistically insignificant. No statistical manipulation can explain away the enormous gaps between the in-married and the intermarried in the rates at which children are raised as exclusively Jewish”, The Hebrew Union College's Steve Cohen on intermarriage, from a J-Post piece following the pew study.
Number: 93, Marcel Reich-Ranicki, one of the most influential figures in German literature in the past several decades, passed away at age 93.