To Read: David Ignatius does not think that the recent changes in the Middle East point to US Weakness-
Because this diplomacy engages countries that have been our adversaries, some observers see signs of American weakness or even capitulation. They’re mistaken. The United States will be stronger if it can create a new framework for security in the Middle East that involves Iran and defuses the Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict threatening the region. But change frightens people, especially when it’s being pushed by a president who is perceived as weak at home and abroad.
Quote: "a year or more away", Obama telling AP that it would take time before Iran reaches nuclear capability.
Number: 44, the percentage of Americans who believe that Israel was given to the Jews by God (82% among evangelicals; 40% among Jews).
To Read: Mark N.Katz believes that Israel should view the US-Iran rapprochement, and the possibility of encouraging Iranian pragmatism, as an opportunity rather than as a reason to worry-
Indeed, considering all the serious internal and external problems that Tehran faces, it hardly seems likely that Iran will embark on improving its relations with the West only to suddenly acquire nuclear weapons and actually attack Israel, when this would assuredly lead to massive retaliation on the part of America and/or Israel which could well destroy the Islamic Republic. Further, it will become clear soon enough if Iran claims to want improved relations but then stalls on the nuclear and other issues of concern to the West.
America, then, should pursue the opportunity for an Iranian-American rapprochement that has arisen with the replacement of Ahmadinejad by Rouhani as president of Iran. The success of this effort would not only benefit America and the West generally, but also Israel—even if Mr. Netanyahu does not recognize this.
Quote: “Our security assistance for Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East, is being delayed. The new fiscal year started this last week, but because of the shutdown, some entities don’t have the funding that they need, including supporting the peacekeeping mission in the Sinai, at a time of growing unrest in a critical area”, Secretary of State John Kerry, commenting on the effects of the shutdown on security cooperation with Israel.
Number: 6, the number of resolutions condemning Israel which were passed by UNESCO.
The Middle East
To Read: The BBC's Paul Wood describes the dire situation of the moderate Syrian rebels-
Amid what the guidebooks call the ‘stylish and opulent’ surroundings of the Albergo hotel in Beirut, a western diplomat was briefing journalists. The room was all Persian rugs and wing-backed chairs. Waiters hovered. The official was his government’s main conduit to the Syrian rebels. I asked him what percentage of the rebels western countries could support: what percentage were not jihadis, not committing human rights abuses, looting or kidnapping — and were militarily effective?
There was a silence. Finally, he said: ‘Thirty per cent.’ It was a devastating admission. Then he paused and said he had been considering only the first three criteria. Adding in military effectiveness, you would have to say the West could support only 10 per cent.
Quote: “We are optimistic about our dear government’s diplomatic envoy, but pessimistic about the Americans” a skeptical remark from Ayatollah Khamenei’s Twitter page.
Number: 4, the number of people arrested for trying to sabotage an Iranian nuclear site.
The Jewish World
Headline: Denmark faces questions over Nazi ties
To Read: New Jersey Rabbi Jeffrey Salk writes about a process of new, easier-to-use Jewish institutions taking away business from established working synagogues-
Who — or what — killed this synagogue?
The word on the Jewish street is that the synagogue was the victim of a new phenomenon in suburban Jewish life. It is one that is plaguing Long Island (this newspaper just ran a three-part series on the phenomenon there), and now in New Jersey: it is low-cost synagogues, frequently fee-for-service, with minimal religious school requirements. They are giving established synagogues a run for their money (literally) and their members…
We are witnessing a phenomenon that, left undiagnosed and unchallenged, will signal the beginning of yet another denomination in American Jewish life — Kmart Judaism.
Quote: "Please merciful God, with your many mercies, annul severe decrees and don't give your land to disgrace, to be controlled by gentiles", an excerpt from a special prayer-manifesto signed by some of the leading rabbis of Israel's religious-Zionist movement.
Number: 60, the number of active synagogues in Iran today.