To Read: Retired Major General Robert H. Scales discusses the Pentagon's perspective on the proposed plan in Syria-
They are repelled by the hypocrisy of a media blitz that warns against the return of Hitlerism but privately acknowledges that the motive for risking American lives is our “responsibility to protect” the world’s innocents. Prospective U.S. action in Syria is not about threats to American security. The U.S. military’s civilian masters privately are proud that they are motivated by guilt over slaughters in Rwanda, Sudan and Kosovo and not by any systemic threat to our country.
They are outraged by the fact that what may happen is an act of war and a willingness to risk American lives to make up for a slip of the tongue about “red lines.” These acts would be for retribution and to restore the reputation of a president. Our serving professionals make the point that killing more Syrians won’t deter Iranian resolve to confront us. The Iranians have already gotten the message.
Quote: "We plan a major lobbying effort, with about 250 activists in Washington to meet with their senators and representatives", an AIPAC source describing the organization's efforts to promote US action in Syria.
Number: 30, the projected percentage of minority voters in the 2016 elections.
To Read: Emily Hauser examines the apparent discrepancy between the Israeli public's growing support for a separation between religion and State and between the Israeli Government's actions on the matter-
Secular Israel—the Israel that looks to Europe and America for its cultural clues, the Israel that can read the siddur but doesn’t know what it says—might not like to think about it, but the undue power and unremitting mutual hostility are actually a result of political decisions that it signed off on, from the state’s earliest days. When Israel was first established, most of the pioneers believed that ultra-Orthodox expressions of faith would go the way of the dinosaur, and that handing out special privileges for political gain didn’t pose any threat.
Quote: “One of the most incredible things in a period when the notion of the nation state is collapsing before our eyes is that there are those who are trying to advance, in one way or another, the founding of yet another nation-state — even as it remains unclear how the people of Jenin are connected to the people of Hebron, and uncertain that there is a common denominator between those in Judea and Samaria and those in Gaza”, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon making an intriguing allusion to the Palestinian cause in a speech.
Number: 5000, the number of work permits Israel has announced it will issue to West Bank Palestinians who wish to work in Israel.
The Middle East
To Read: Peter Galbraith believes that the legitimate fears which Syria's minorities have about the Syrian opposition should be heeded-
The Syrian opposition has not even tried to win the support of the country's minorities. There is no program, or even meaningful discussion, of how a post-Assad regime might protect Syria's Alawites from retribution. The Kurds are unwilling to fight for an opposition that says future arrangements for the Kurds will be decided democratically — in other words, by a Sunni Arab majority that has never shown any sympathy for Kurdish linguistic and citizenship rights, much less for their demands for regional autonomy. Nor has the opposition acknowledged or addressed the fears of Syria's Christians.
Quote: "The president asked me to pass on his thanks to Putin for his position during and after the G20 summit", Walid al-Muallem, the Syrian foreign minister, conveying Assad's gratitude towards Putin a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.
Number: $285.7m, a report by Egypt's general prosecutor accuses former President Morsi of taking advantage of his posts and squandering $285.7 million during his election campaign.
The Jewish World
To Read: A Forward piece takes a look at the origins of the 'book of life' in which we are all supposed to be inscribed in the new year-
Actually, the Israelites of Moses’ age probably had heard of it, because the motif of such a book was part of the shared religious culture of the ancient Middle East. Thus, in the Babylonian-Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh’s friend Enkidu has a vision in which he sees Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld. Kneeling before her is her secretary, Beletseri, the Underworld’s official scribe, “reading aloud from a tablet in her hands.” From other Babylonian sources, we know that this “tablet” (Babylonian documents, as I observed in a recent column, were incised with a stylus on a slab of wet clay and baked for preservation) was a record of the lives of new arrivals in the Underworld whose fate Ereshkigal had to decide. The Babylonians’ word for such a tablet was egertu, a cognate of the Hebrew igeret, which denotes a scroll or scroll-like letter. (Important Hebrew documents, unlike Babylonian ones, were generally written with ink on parchment that was rolled into a cylinder and sealed. If the igeret was long enough, it was called a sefer, a book.)
Quote: “How can there be so many survivors if so many had been killed?”, Rudolph Höss' daughter Brigitte, who lives in Virginia, still doesn't understand the Holocaust.
Number: 7000, On Rosh Hashana 70 years ago 7000 Danish Jews managed to escape to Sweden in one of WW2's most impressive moments of humanity.
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