To Read: Doyle McManus thinks that Obama's foreign policy appointments are a signal that he no longer needs establishment figures to counter his inexperience and that he might feel freer to implement his real world view-
A second term is a second chance, and Obama's choices for the top foreign policy jobs suggest that he intends to use it. The president's first-term focus was on recasting America's image after eight years of Bush, but it was also about minimizing risks on the way to reelection. In his second term, with that constraint gone, he appears ready to throw a few elbows.
Quote: "[Compared to the extremely wide powers of Israeli police and security organizations over electronic data] the powers of the American agencies are a joke", attorney Jonathan Klinger, an Israeli Internet privacy ecpert, giving an Israeli perspective on the US surveillance scandal.
Number: 78, the percentage of Americans who said the surveillance cameras are a good idea in a poll conducted after the Boston bombings.
To Read: Daniel Dasbcheck examines the underlying universalistic optimism of backers of one state solution (at least those from the left)-
Simic, Levy and other one-staters fall into the classic monistic trap of thinkers since the French Enlightenment who place abstract unity and universality over irreconcilable diversity and human nature. While commendable for reminding us of the dangers of xenophobic nationalism, claiming “if only” Israelis and Palestinians realized their true interests of living in one state parallels the Marxist dodge of false consciousness. Palestinian and Israeli leaders want their own state precisely because their people are just like all other peoples—they seek a sense of belonging within their own communities. In fact, “ordinary people” are infinitely wiser than these doctrinaire ideologues in acknowledging that differences cannot all be smoothed out, nor do they wish to do so.
Quote: “I am not ‘our’ writer; I am ‘my’ writer. I don’t write in the name of something and I am very rude sometimes. Once you wrote about me that I’m a brat, and I actually liked that. I never went along the main path. I never found it”, a quote by prominent Israeli writer Yoram Kaniuk, who passed away today aged 83.
Number: 100,000 the number of attendees in Tel Aviv's pride parade on Friday (the link features a video of Yair Lapid being booed by the crowd).
The Middle East
Headline: Syria opposition sticks to talks boycott
To Read: Journalist and human Rights lawyer Alia Malik claims that sectarianism in the Middle East- and especially in Syria- is often artificially emphasized and exploited by leaders and does not always reflect the people's true sentiments-
Although individual Alawites close to the Assads’ inner circle have been the biggest beneficiaries of corrupt policies, most of Syria’s economic elites are actually urban Sunnis. And many Alawites not tied to the regime are poor.
But such details have been ignored. For those seeking to maintain or gain influence in the Middle East, the most proven and expedient method is to invoke and provoke sectarianism and the existential fears that come with it. It’s a reliable way to win willing recruits and a constituency — and set the place on fire.
Quote: “The government is running like clockwork. There is nothing that necessitates early elections”, Huseyin Celik, deputy chairman Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AK) ruling out an early elections in Turkey.
Number: $5bln, the size of the UN's largest ever aid appeal, demanded for Syria.
The Jewish World
To Read: Rabbi Evan Moffic explains why he became a Rabbi despite the belief that this is no longer a considered a fit profession for a nice Jewish boy-
Whenever I tell people I'm a rabbi, the first question they ask is, "Where's your beard?" The next question is usually something like, "What kind of job is that for a nice Jewish boy?"
This question reflects a number of different cultural forces. The first is the largely secular identity of the American Jewish community. Jews express belief in God in significantly less proportions than other religious groups. They attend houses of worship less than other groups. While charitable giving to Jewish causes, commitment to education and liberal voting patterns continue to distinguish Jews as a group, religious practice and affiliation are irrelevant to a significant percentage of them.
Quote: "They're getting used to us", Anat Hoffman referring to the orthodox prayers at the Western Wall.
Number: 68, the number of photos presented at an exhibition commemorating Palestinian Martyrs at a publicly subsidized Parisian museum.