To Read: Syrian rebel leader Salim Idris argues that the US should arm Syrian rebels, his argument being that the FSA is already a seriously organized army which is Syria's only chance for rule of law and non extremist governance-
If the international community fails to provide the necessary strategic military support, it will only help to contribute to a vacuum in Syria where radical foreign forces flourish. The Syrian opposition has already made a concerted effort to bring armed revolutionary groups under the umbrella of a controlled military command -- it forged the Syrian Military Joint Command, which united the Free Syrian Army (FSA) brigades under a common leadership and helps equip them with advanced weaponry to counter Assad's military onslaught. It has also taken a number of steps to marginalize extremist groups by ensuring that all FSA battalions uphold the Geneva Convention, imposing strict age requirements for new recruits, and cutting off units that break the rules from lethal and non-lethal support.
The Syrian Military Joint Command has built strong links with FSA brigades around the country in order to develop a countrywide military strategy. But there is only so much that can be done without the determined support of the United States. What Syrians need today to bring an end to the conflict are anti-aircraft weapons systems, not more words.
Quote: “It is not our job to tell Israelis where they can or cannot build", Senator Rand Paul, speaking to Jewish leaders.
Number: $680, the amount which would be American citizens need to pay before taking their citizenship exams.
To Read: Former IDF Majr-Genral Giora Eiland thinks the US refuses to realize that the Israel Palestinian conflict is a substantial disagreement, not a failure in negotiation:
US President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are expected to visit the region together in late March to try and promote an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. It is amazing to see how American policy has not changed in 20 years. Each administration creates expectations regarding a solution to the conflict without reassessing it and asking the basic question: Why have the peace efforts failed so far?
It seems that the American approach is: There is a problem (the conflict), so there must be a solution. What's the solution? Two states. Why hasn't the solution been implemented until now? Apparently because we haven't put enough effort into it. What's the conclusion? We have to try harder.
This conclusion is obviously wrong. The solution has not been implemented yet because both sides don't really want it. For both sides the cost of adopting the solution is much greater than the benefit. From Israel's perspective, the solution has two main problems: One is the great security risk involved in withdrawing to the 1967 borders, along with the possibility that the other side will not keep its promises.
Quote: “When Yair Lapid asks where the money is we’ll tell him it’s in the settlements. From our point of view this is an unnecessary expense", a senior member of Shas, adopting a surprisingly left wing viewpoint in reaction to the Lapid-Bennet pact.
Number: 50 , the percentage of Israeli Haredim who are under the age of 14.
The Middle East
Read: Turkish Journalist, Tulin Dalogulo, believes Erdogan's Israel comments reveal the extent of his extremism and are deeply consistent with the rest of his words and actions:
Turks on the street may not be aware of the ideological background of the Turkish Prime Minister’s remarks on Zionism, but assume that Erdogan himself did not know he would be misleading. Erdogan considers Hamas a Palestinian resistance movement fighting against the Israeli occupation for the right reasons; he does not consider it a terrorist organization. He recently met with Hamas’ political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal in Ankara on Feb.19th. Meshaal was an honored guest in October 2012 at the Justice and Development Party’s National Congress, where he received a standing ovation from the attendees. Erdogan publicly made it very clear that his heart was joining Meshaal in his first visit to Gaza in December to mark Hamas’ 25th anniversary. Based on the public statements, there is no justification to suggest that Erdogan will put pressure on Hamas to alter its decision and recognize the state of Israel.
Again, in that context, Erdogan is closer to Meshaal then he is to Kerry. His was not an unfortunate flip-flop; he actually believes Zionism is a crime against humanity and therefore challenges the legitimacy of the Jewish people’s right to establish their own state on the land that is called Israel. Criticizing the policies of Israel is different than equating Zionism to crime against humanity. All in all, peace can and should primarily be achieved between people, not states. For this to happen, there needs to be mutual respect and empathy toward Israel’s security concerns. And this makes it even sadder that Erdogan seems to have conveniently forgotten that in 1992, Turkey was a signatory to U.N. decision that revoked a 1975 resolution equating Zionism to racism.
Quote: "I am upset that Ahmad is the head of the Fatah delegation. This man is incompetent both psychologically and intellectually. The fact that he has accused me of coordinating with former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin means that he is either drunk or detached from reality", the head of the Legislative Council, Aziz Dweik, slamming the head of the Fatah delegation in the Hamas-Fatah negotiations, and showing that the tension between the two organizations is still severe.
Number: $450 million, the sum of pledged budget support the US will offer Egypt.
The Jewish World
Headline: Danes alarmed by rising anti-Semitism
To Read: Aluf Ben criticizes Rabbi Stav's somewhat misleading pretensions to liberality in his bid for the office of Chief Rabbi-
Stav and his friends claim that the secular population hates the rabbinate because of the bureaucracy and the inflexibility of the current leadership, the ultra-Orthodox rabbis. This is ignorance or the pretense of innocence. The secular couples that refuse a religious wedding simply don’t wish to lie to themselves or those around them, and participate in a ceremony they don’t believe in. Stav knows that he will be unable to persuade them without the coercive power of the state. If he really thought it were possible to “sell Judaism,” he could support civil marriage and handle it in the free market. But he knows he will lose, and to support his position he wraps it with ostensibly nationalist arguments: “On the day we support civil marriage, we will effectively be saying that we have despaired of the state’s Jewishness.”
The battle for control over the Chief Rabbinate is not between moderates and extremists, or between enlightened members of religious Zionism against the uneducated Haredim, but rather between two aggressive groups that are fighting over the fees paid by the public. Instead of one agent of coercion with an office and chauffeured car imposing the laws of halakha, we will have another one with the added − and irrelevant − value that he and his children served in the military, in contrast to his Orthodox opponent whose children were exempt from army service. Once again the army is turned from a security organization into a component of our religious lives.
Quote: "Reach out to the churches in your community, to the African-Americans, the Latinos, to the mosques", Israel Ambassador Michael Oren at AIPAC conference , encouraging US Jewish leaders to engage with other minority communities.
Number: 22,000, the number of German Jews who have been waiting for retroactive payments.