To Read: Hussein Ibish thinks that Kerry's trip to Egypt is a step in the right direction-
So, some US aid and military cooperation programmes have been cut or suspended. But Egyptians are currently experiencing such a surge of hyper-nationalism that they don’t care about this, or even celebrate the negative American response. Both those reactions – American and Egyptian alike – are highly unhelpful.
The US aid cuts seem to back up the conspiracy theories that say Washington actively promoted the Muslim Brotherhood. And if Egyptians think they can really do without the Americans in the long run, they are underestimating the difficulties ahead.
Quote: We will be there for Saudi Arabia, for the Emirates, for Qataris, for the Jordanians, for the Egyptians and others. We will not allow those countries to be attacked from outside. We will stand with them", John Kerry doing some damage control in the Middle East.
Number: $7b, the amount of money spent by the US on the war against poppy trade in Afghanistan (which is reportedly going quite poorly).
To Read: TNR's Ben Birenbaum takes a look at Danny Danon, whom he labels as 'the Ted Cruz of Israel'-
Danon knows that, just as Netanyahu couldn’t stop a determined Sharon from pulling out of Gaza, he can’t prevent a determined Netanyahu from reaching a deal. But with some help from his fellow Likud hard-liners, he could raise the political price of a Palestinian state high enough that Netanyahu concludes it will cost him the party’s leadership and the fourth term he covets.
Quote: "[the bill] has a strategic contribution to the State of Israel as Jewish and democratic and is meant primarily to prevent religious assimilation in the State of Israel", MK Elazar Stern commenting on a new conversion bill which was okayed by a government committee.
Number: 270, the number of Palestinian prisoners who were enrolled in open University classes in Israeli prisons in 2010.
The Middle East
To Read: Former US Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker tells about his experiences negotiating with Iran-
despite three decades of frosty relations and although most Americans may be unaware of it, talks with Iran have succeeded in the past — and they can succeed again.
Immediately after 9/11, while serving in the State Department, I sat down with Iranian diplomats to discuss next steps in Afghanistan. Back then, we had a common enemy, the Taliban and its Al Qaeda associates, and both governments thought it was worth exploring whether we could cooperate.
The Iranians were constructive, pragmatic and focused, at one point they even produced an extremely valuable map showing the Taliban’s order of battle just before American military action began.
Quote: “I don't think anybody would tolerate the presence of something like Afghanistan on the shores of the Mediterranean", Turkey's President Abdullah Gull, warning about Syria's influence on the region.
Number: 465,000, the number of students in the Gaza strip.
The Jewish World
To Read: Hillel Halkin muses about changes in American Jews' attitudes towards Zionism, among other things, as he revisits his book 'Letters to an American Jewish Friend'-
It had always been like that. From the outset, American Zionism viewed a Jewish state as a home for Jews less fortunate than America’s—for those fleeing the Europe of the Czars or Hitler, for Holocaust survivors in the DP camps, for refugees from the Arab countries of the Middle East, for Soviet Jews imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain. Its task, as it saw it, was to assist these victims of fate or anti-Semitism to reach a Jewish homeland and be absorbed there in a secure and prosperous environment; it was not to encourage American Jews to join them. Although there were tiny American Zionist youth groups that preached and practiced aliyah, emigration, the subject was never on the American Jewish agenda.
Quote: “As the demographics of our area have changed, our membership has shrunk and we needed to find revenue to keep going. Young families affiliated with the Reform movement are fewer and farther between”, Marla Topp, the executive director of a reform temple in Illinois commenting on the dwindling attendance problem reform and conservative synagogues are facing.
Number: 1 billion Euros, the estimated value of some 1,500 works of Nazi-looted art discovered in an apartment in Germany.