To Read: Hussein Ibish criticizes the common western view which says that the Syria conflict is 'a choice between Assad and al-Qaeda'-
The question of American military strikes aside, both the West and the Arab states have an urgent interest in supporting these groups to simultaneously combat both a murderous dictatorship and armed extremists who are at least as dangerous. On the ground, the opportunity is ripe for such an expanded programme. But as long as westerners think that Syria is trapped in a binary between Mr Al Assad and Al Qaeda, resistance to such a programme will remain widespread and crippling.
Quote: “Very productive meeting”, John Kerry's description of his meeting with Mahmoud Abbas last week (he's still at it).
Number: 60, John Kerry's remarkable approval rating.
To Read: Former Head of the Middle East desk at the NSC, William Quandt, discusses Kissinger and the Yom Kippur war in an interesting interview for Israel Hayom-
"The politicians who came into contact with Kissinger at the start of his term in September 1973 were proud of him because he was considered to be the first American Jew who held the positions of secretary of state and national security advisor and thus would want very close relations with Israel," Quandt said.
"Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Yitzhak Rabin, were convinced that Israel had a close friend in the [Nixon] administration."
It wasn't long, however, until a quite different reality began to take shape. "Kissinger wasn't an agent working at the behest of the Israeli government," Quandt said.
Quote: "a danger to peace as it hands one side a political victory without having to compromise and deepens the Palestinian feeling that they can gain more outside of negotiations than in them”, European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor responds to pressure from EU leaders to enforce the ban on Israeli settlements.
Number: 400, the original number of ultra orthodox men who were given exempt status from the army when Israel was formed.
The Middle East
To Read: An intriguing Atlantic piece challanges the idea that western colonialism and irresponsible map drawing are responsible for all of the Arab world's woes-
The idea that better borders, drawn with careful attention to the region’s ethnic and religious diversity, would have spared the Middle East a century’s worth of violence is especially provocative at a moment when Western powers weigh the merits of intervention in the region. Unfortunately, this critique overstates how arbitrary today’s Middle East borders really are, overlooks how arbitrary every other border in the world is, implies that better borders were possible, and ignores the cynical imperial practices that actually did sow conflict in the region.
Quote: “We don’t want to create another chemical weapons disaster; Syria has already had several”, a senior Obama administration official commenting on the efforts to disarm Syria.
Number: 154, the number of tunnels that the Egyptian army has recently destroyed on the Egypt-Gaza border.
The Jewish World
To Read: The Guardian's Ned Temko examines the recent changes in Brittain's Jewish population-
But changes in Jewish life in Britain go deeper than the divide between the charedim and the rest, says Stephen Miller, emeritus professor of social research at City University and a leading analyst of trends in Jewish identity. In the 1990s two-thirds of Jews affiliated to a synagogue were members of mainstream orthodox communities grouped largely under the umbrella of the United Synagogue, the body that picks the chief rabbi. Now, the proportion is barely 50%. Some of the decline is because synagogal movements to the religious left of the orthodox – Masorti, Reform and Liberal Judaism – have been growing, if modestly.
"Yet the basic structure of Jewish identity has transformed itself," says Miller. "In the 1980s and 1990s, British Jews differentiated themselves largely in terms of their level of observance. This was the single, best predictor of how strongly Jewish they felt. Now, that link is far weaker. Many of those who regard themselves as strongly identified Jews have little or no connection with religious practice.
Quote: "Believe me, I have been around here when AIPAC was really putting the pressure on, and this isn’t one of those times", a senior senate aide commenting on reports about AIPAC's pressure for a Syria attack.
Number: $660,000, the amount which an unidentified Moscow millionaire, or perhaps billionaire, paid for the honor of reading the Book of Yona on Yom Kippur.