To Read: Aaron David Miller examines the possible foreign policy implications of yesterday's 'State of the Union' address-
Two clocks tick down in a president's second term: the drive for legacy and the reality of lame duckery. Obama's political capital will diminish quickly. Where, how, and on what he wants to spend it is critical. The Middle East is violent and volatile and may yet suck him in, but if he can avoid it, he'll try. This was a State of the Union address that stressed fixing America's broken house, not chasing around the world trying to fix everyone else's. The future of America isn't Cairo or Damascus; it's Chicago and Detroit.
Quote: "it has turned into a childish spectacle, and I don't think that I want to be there to lend dignity to it", Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia about the State of the Union.
Number: 34,000 the number of soldiers President Obama announced he will withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of the year.
Headline: 'Dead Mossad agent' affair revealed
To Read: Jeffrey Goldberg imagines how the future meeting between Netanyahu and Obama might look like-
In their one-on-one sessions (which both leaders are no doubt anticipating as enthusiastically as middle-aged men anticipate their colonoscopies), I predict the following breakdown: Let’s say they’ll spend three hours together. Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations will get three minutes, the shattering of Syria will get 17 minutes and the remaining 160 minutes will be devoted to Iran.
Quote: “This was the deadliest attack on European soil since 2005… Despite this, however, Hezbollah remains conspicuously absent from the European Union’s list of recognized terrorist organizations. In fact, many states—including some in this hall—continue to classify Hezbollah as a charity. Not since Napoleon invaded Russia has the European continent seen such an astonishing lack of foresight”, Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prossor talking about the Burgos bombing at the general assembly yesterday.
Number: 1, the number of times Obama mentioned Israel in his 6,500 word speech.
The Middle East
Headline: Iran to Resume Nuclear Talks
Read: David Ignatius follows the recent changes on the Syrian battlefront-
Syrian opposition fighters appear to be making significant gains on the battlefield this week, following an offer by their top political leader for negotiations with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
This military and diplomatic news may appear positive. But Syrian sources caution that the battlefield advances may accelerate movement toward a breakup of the country, as Alawite supporters of the regime retreat to their ancestral homeland in the northwestern region around Latakia. And there’s no sign that either Assad or his Russian patrons are paying any more than lip service to a political settlement.
Quote: “If these people had been around during the French Revolution, they would have said, ‘What kind of revolution is this? It’s terrible. We wish the king had remained’”, Yigal Carmon, founder and president of MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, voicing a surprising optimism about the Arab Spring.
Number: almost 10,000, the estimated number of deaths in the Syria from the beginning of the year alone.
The Jewish World
To Read: Rabbi David Golinkin of the Schechter institute explores several historical, political and religious aspects of prayer at the Kotel-
It is therefore clear that even if someone claims that the established custom of the Kotel was to pray with a mehitzah - a claim we have disproved in paragraph I above - the large upper plaza is not a synagogue according to Jewish law and according to the practices of the Chief Rabbinate itself for about 35 years after the Six Day War. Therefore, the Chief Rabbinate has no halakhic right to demand certain types of dress or behavior in that area.
Quote: "The demise of young American Jews’ interest in Israel is a myth", Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations, voices his optimism about young American Jewry.
Number: 6-10, the estimated percentage of holocaust survivors who die annually, according to the Tauber Holocaust Library and Education program.