To Read: According to Military analyst and Iran specialist Bryan Prior, the sanctions against Iran can help US interests in many more ways besides delaying Iran's nuclear program:
This is not to say the United States should abandon its aim of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But that needn’t be the only purpose of sanctions. The U.S. should campaign diplomatically for even greater sanctions against Iran at least to delay a nuclear Iran while also curbing various other forms of nefarious activity. That could serve three purposes: ensure an ongoing sanctions regime against Iran even in the event that it acquires a weapon (economic); preventing the enhancement of Iran’s conventional capabilities (military); and further isolating Iran as a pariah state (political). Regionally, such measures will help assure Arab allies in the Gulf that their energy infrastructure will remain unthreatened. Globally, it will demonstrate to future nations seeking nuclear weapons that such ventures come at a major cost economically, militarily and politically.
Quote: “I would say that we’ll have to closely assess globally the types of things that our military is being asked to do”, US Admiral Samuel Locklear telling John McCain his opinion about the effects of the sequestration.
Number: 16 million, the number of Americans who have been added to the food stamp roll since Obama first got elected.
To Read: Einat Wilf believes that President Obama has some important insights about Zionism at a most crucial time:
As long as the world in general, and the Arab world in particular, believes that the state of Israel is a form of “compensation” to a suffering people by a guilty world, a false lesson is learned that victimhood is rewarded. This encourages a problematic race to the bottom to be perceived as the world's most oppressed, a strategy that some Palestinians have been perfecting for decades, manifested in the choice to remain refugees within their own borders and defining their existence by "indignities" committed by Israel, rather than engaging in actions that will lead to their own dignity.
If the Palestinians and the Arabs were to properly understand Israel and Zionism through Obama's recent encapsulation of it, they might finally begin to engage in a race to the top toward self-determination and the assumption of responsibility to shape their own fate. Palestinians can have a state tomorrow if they behave like the Zionist leaders — saying a pragmatic yes to what they can get, even if it is far less than they feel is justly deserved.
Quote: "Before talking about extermination, and before allowing either the Masada or the Samson complex to progress to obsession, the Israelis might usefully examine their own position and that of the Arabs", a secret US report from the 70's, another gem from the new WikiLeaks collection.
Number: 6, The Technion, Israel's leading scientific institution, ranked sixth in the world in entrepreneurship and innovation in a University survey conducted by MIT.
The Middle East
To Read: Tarek Osman writes about the perilous historic shift in Egypt's attitude toward its Christian population:
From the 1970s, political and militant Islamism began to spread, resulting in a conservative social code and, at times, violence against Christians. Since the Coptic Pope Shenouda III was consecrated in 1971, the Egyptian Church has once more become an active political player with special privileges and wide influence. The politicisation of the Church was a new development in modern Egyptian history after many decades in which the Church had shunned the vagaries of politics. Slowly but steadily, religious identities gained ground while Egyptianism fell back.
The ascent of political Islam in the aftermath of Egypt’s 2011 uprising exacerbated the problem. Although President Morsi has been more proactive than President Mubarak in engaging Egyptian Christians in politics, there is a widespread trepidation amongst very wide segments of Egyptian Christians concerning personal freedoms in an increasingly Islamised society, implications on economic and financial interests given the immense changes taking place in the country’s political-economy, and that the increasing political tension (and the rise of Salafism) could usher in waves of assertive religiosity that could imperil Egyptian Christians. As a result, there is a conspicuous rise in Christian immigration from Egypt – at various social strata.
Quote: "“Turkey has been enemies with Iran or Persia for 1,000 years; it (Turkey) cannot allow them to arm themselves with nuclear weapons. Turkey is not ready for Iran to go nuclear”, The head of the diplomatic-security bureau at the Defense Ministry, Amos Gilad in an interview, yesterday.
Number: 6.1, the magnitude of the deadly Iranian earthquake that hit Southwest Iran yesterday.
The Jewish World
To Read: This is a good time to read Charles C. Johnson thorough exploration of Margaret Thatcher's close connection to Zionism and to the Jewish cause:
Early on in her career—even before she entered politics—Thatcher had worked alongside Jews as a chemist at J. Lyons and Co., a Jewish-owned company. (She had graduated from Oxford in 1947 with a degree in chemistry.) After quitting chemistry, she became a barrister and grew increasingly involved in politics. She ran for office in some of the more conservative districts and lost each time. Thatcher finally won when she ran in Finchley, a safe Tory seat in a north London borough. Finally she had found her constituents: middle-class, entrepreneurial, Jewish suburbanites. She particularly loved the way her new constituents took care of one another, rather than looking to the state: “In the thirty-three years that I represented [Finchley],” she later wrote, “I never had a Jew come in poverty and desperation to one of my [town meetings],” and she often wished that Christians “would take closer note of the Jewish emphasis on self-help and acceptance of personal responsibility.” She was a founding member of the Anglo-Israel Friendship League of Finchley and a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel. Aghast that a golf club in her district consistently barred Jews from becoming members, she publicly protested against it. She even joined in the singing of the Israeli national anthem in 1975 at Finchley.
Quote: “Without going into details, everybody has his or her objections, but I think in the end everybody understands that here is an opportunity to make the Kotel again into the place and symbol that unites all of us, and not divides”, Head of the Jewish Agency, Nathan Sharansky, about the Kotel proposal.
Number: 5, the surprisingly low number of physical assaults against Jews in Russia in 2011-2012, according to a new report.