Headline: Obama to Speed Afghanistan Troop Exit
To Read: Hawks on Iraq Prepare for War Again, Against Hagel
Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times sees neoconservatives uniting to fight Chuck Hagel's nomination at Defense.
Mr. Kristol said he and other like-minded hawks were more concerned about Mr. Hagel’s occasional arguments against sanctions (he voted against some in the Senate), what they deem as his overcautious attitudes about military action against Iran and his tougher approach to Israel than they were about his views on Iraq — aside from his outspoken opposition to the American troop surge there that was ultimately deemed successful.
Quote: “Our backs are against the wall” Scott Wilson, president of pro-gun rights group the Connecticut Citizens Defense League on new legislation for gun control
Number: $48.73 billion The US trade deficit at the end of November of last year
To Read: What Makes an Outpost Illegal?
If Palestinian construction in the West Bank is accetable, then why isn't the same true for Israeli construction, asks Jonathan Tobin of Commentary Magazine.
Those who oppose the Jewish presence in the West Bank or parts of Jerusalem often argue that incorporating these areas makes a two-state solution to the conflict impossible or undermine Israel’s future as a Jewish state. But the E1 area is not some remote hilltop outpost deep in the West Bank that would likely be given up in the event of a peace accord. It is a close Jerusalem suburb that would be incorporated into Israel in any treaty under the concept of land swaps that even President Obama supports.
Quote: "Not one shekel was wasted... when it comes to the security of Israel, there is no waste" Benjamin Netanyahu hits back at claims by his predeccesor Ehud Olmert that he has been squandering state funds
Number: 67 The projected seats for the right-religious bloc in our latest Poll Trends Tracker
The Middle East
To Read: A Two-Year Travelogue from Hell
Christoph Reuter of der Spiegel recounts his travels within war-torn Syria since the start of the uprising.
Since the beginning of the revolution, we -- a photographer, a Syrian colleague and I -- have traveled around the country a number of times, mostly following secret routes, passed on from one local opposition group to the next. We have been in hiding and have worn disguises, and we have been shot at and chased. It isn't easy to cope with the fact that so many of the people who helped us are now dead.
Quote: It is clear that Mr Brahimi is now out of the loop for the solution for Syria. He has taken sides, he is not a mediator" Pro-regime Syrian daily Al-Watan lashes out at the UN mediator
Number: Two million The reported number of Facebook users in Iran
To Read: Jewish Americans may be increasingly disenchanted with Netanyahu. But their priorities lie elsewhere
Peter Beinart writes in the Guardian that while American Jews might be willing to turn the other cheek on Israel's domestic policies, they won't do so when it comes to Iran
So is Netanyahu free to do whatever he pleases without worrying about the American Jewish response? On the Palestinians, maybe. But on Iran, no. That's because war with Iran, a war in which the US could easily become engulfed even if we don't drop the first bomb, is a much higher priority than the Israeli-Palestinian peace process (or lack thereof). It's a higher priority for Americans, for liberal American Jews, and for America's president. It's an issue on which Obama, as evidenced by the Hagel nomination, is not prepared to defer to Aipac. And it's an issue that could, if America goes to war, mobilise those liberal American Jews who would not mobilise politically on the peace process but did mobilise against the war in Iraq.
Quote: “For goodness’ sake, it’s not as if Obama is appointing David Duke” The editor of the Nebraska Jewish newspaper calls for calmer heads in the debate over Hagel's nomination