To Read: According to Peggy Noonan, Obama has no interest in engaging congress and reaching bipartisan agreements-
He doesn't have time for Congress, but he has time to go on Al Sharpton's radio show and say Republicans care only about protecting the rich from taxes. Which is the kind of thing that embitters, that makes foes dig in more deeply.
But here's what seems really new. Past presidents, certainly since Ronald Reagan, went over the heads of the media to win over the people, to get them to contact Congress and push Congress to deal. Fine, and fair enough. But Mr. Obama goes to the people to get them to enhance his position by hating Republicans. He's playing only to the polls, not to Congress, not to get the other side to the bargaining table. He doesn't even like the bargaining table. He doesn't like bargaining.
Where does that get us? We are in new territory. There is a strange kind of nihilism in the president's approach. It's a closed, self-referential loop. And it's guaranteed to keep agreement from happening.
Quote: "It's not like your household. In your household, people are saying, 'Oh, you can't spend money you don't have.' That is true for your household because nobody is going to lend you an infinite amount of money. When it comes to the United States federal government, people do seem willing to lend us an infinite amount of money. ... Our debt is so big and so many people own it that it's preposterous to think that they would stop selling us more. It's the old story: If you owe the bank $50,000, you got a problem. If you owe the bank $50 million, they got a problem. And that's a problem for the lenders. They can't stop lending us more money", Mayor Bloomberg about US debt.
Number: 4, the number of points Obama's approval ratings dropped on Friday, following the sequestration, according to a Gallup poll.
To Read: Former chief negotiator Dennis Ross, offers a 14 point agenda to help Israel and Palestine overcome their current rut of distrust and stagnation:
Given this context of mutual disbelief, the idea that the two sides now will seize an initiative to end the conflict is an illusion. But that cannot be an argument for doing nothing. The longer the stalemate drags on, the greater the cynicism and the less anyone on either side will be able to speak of two states and retain any credibility.
If the two-state solution is discredited as an outcome, something and someone will surely fill the void. Already the Islamists of Hamas, with their rejection of two states, seem primed to do so. The moment Islamists come to define Palestinian identity is the moment when this conflict will be transformed from a national into a religious one — and at that point it may no longer be possible to resolve.
Quote: “Without even addressing the issue of ‘Arab honor’ and basic manners, Liberman’s statements and Bibi’s silence expressed arrogance and a feeling of euphoria . Since when does the state of Israel talk this way to a leader? The attitude toward Abu Mazen was humiliating, I thought. What did they expect of him — that after the Foreign Minister says, authoritatively and with [Netanyahu’s tacit] permission, that Abu Mazen is not relevant and should be dumped — that Abu Mazen will enter the negotiating room with a smile on his face?”, former Shin Bet ex-deputy and Knesset member Israel Hasson about Netanyahu and Liberman's PA strategy.
Number: 18,000, the amount of tons of apples that will pass from Israel to Syria in the next three months.
The Middle East
Read: On the eve of Kerry's arrival to Egypt, Arab World specialist Nesreen Akhtarkhavari warns that the country's political climate and recently adopted constitution put it in danger of becoming a second Iran-
As Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Egypt March 2 he should be wary of one concerning possibility: Under the rule of Mohammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt is in danger of becoming a Sunni version of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Opposition leaders’ refusal to meet with Mr. Kerry over what they perceive to be as unprincipled US support for Mr. Morsi should serve as a wake-up call and warning to Washington.
Quote: “We don’t expect an arsonist to be a firefighter”, Bashar Assad about the possibility of British intervention in Syria.
Number: $2.3 billion, the record amount of money a consortium of Gulf- investors may bid for full ownership of the Arsenal football club.
The Jewish World
Headline: The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking
To Read: Claudia Rossett describes how a group of Islamist regimes have been successfully leveraging the UN label for the promotion of anti-Semitism:
It’s just possible that for the most active members of the Alliance, such as Turkey, Qatar, and Iran, the most important assets of this “initiative” are neither the money in the trust fund nor its actual products. The real value of this initiative is the license to coopt the machinery of the U.N. for these actors to stage their own show. U.S. taxpayers fork over billions every year to sustain the basic institution of the UN. But for the modest price of $4.08 million, the grand total of what Turkey has paid in to the Alliance of Civilizations since its founding in 2005, Erdogan was able to stand on the stage of a palace in Vienna, godfather of a very special U.N. gathering that was once just a gleam in Khatami’s eye and, before a world audience, denounce the Jews.
Quote: "This could prove a very risky strategy at a time when millions of Americans will be feeling the bite of the sequestration debacle, from the defense budget to the school lunch program. But not aid to Israel, which will be untouched if AIPAC gets its way. This resolution could easily backfire and damage Israel far more than any cuts in its very generous grant aid program", Douglas Bloomfield, former AIPAC lobbyist, about the dangers of lobbying for the protection for Israeli aid against the sequestration.
Number: 500, the number of brothels exploiting Jewish sex slaves under Nazi rule, according to the disturbing new study.