To Read: MIT Professor Barry R. Posen argues in favor of US military restraint-
This undisciplined, expensive, and bloody strategy has done untold harm to U.S. national security. It makes enemies almost as fast as it slays them, discourages allies from paying for their own defense, and convinces powerful states to band together and oppose Washington's plans, further raising the costs of carrying out its foreign policy. During the 1990s, these consequences were manageable because the United States enjoyed such a favorable power position and chose its wars carefully. Over the last decade, however, the country's relative power has deteriorated, and policymakers have made dreadful choices concerning which wars to fight and how to fight them. What's more, the Pentagon has come to depend on continuous infusions of cash simply to retain its current force structure -- levels of spending that the Great Recession and the United States' ballooning debt have rendered unsustainable.
Quote: ''He'd be the most antagonistic senator towards the state of Israel in history', Lindsey Graham being vocal as usual about Hagel.
Number: 46, the percentage of Democratic respondents to the recent 'critical threats' Gallup Poll who think that Islamist fundamentalism is a critical threat to the US (70% among Republicans).
To Read: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach offers a new kind of comparison between Israel and South Africa-
For those South Africans who draw parallels between white colonialist oppression suffered by black Africans at the hands of white settlers and the Israeli-Arab conflict, there is indeed a direct parallel although we must be careful not to confuse the corresponding parties. Like black South Africans, Sephardic Jews who lived under Arab governments were treated as second-class citizens that were denied basic human rights. In most countries where they dwelled, they were required to pay the jizyah, the Koran-obligated poll tax. My father often told me how humiliating it was to grow up in Iran and have Islamic shop keepers refuse to take money directly from his hand because, as a Jew, he was impure. Likewise, Ashkenazi Jews, like their black South African counterparts, were for centuries placed into ghettos and forced to live apart.
Quote: “We will not undermine you or topple you. We want the next government to serve out its term. We have goals to reach and accomplishments to achieve. Do not worry”, Yair Lapid reassuring PM Netanyahu.
Number: NIS 3.3 million, the amount spent on maintaining the PM's official residence in 2012.
The Middle East
Read: Eduard Luce of the FT argues that Obama is right in resisting military intervention in Syria-
In the coming weeks, pressure on Barack Obama to do something about Syria will intensify. Neoconservatives on the right and liberal interventionists on the left argue that the president’s inaction is making the US look impotent and callous. He does not even follow the lead of others, they say, let alone lead from behind as he did on Libya. He just sits cynically on his hands while the slaughter escalates – at the cost of 70,000 lives and counting.
That narrative will only grow stronger as the Syrian faultlines become more sectarian. But it is unlikely to prompt a change of course since it misreads the kind of president Mr Obama has become. In his State of the Union speech last week, Mr Obama devoted barely half a sentence to Syria and only a sentence to Iran. But he dwelt at length on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Quote: "375,000 Syrians have come to Jordan since March 2011, which is 6-7% of our population. In American numbers, at that rate, this is 17-18 million people", Jordanian Foreign Minister, Nasser Judeh discussing the Syrian crisis in an interesting interview for foreign affairs.
Number: 98, the percentage of foreign female visitors to Egypt who have experienced sexual harassment.
The Jewish World
Headline: How Many American Jews Are There?
To Read: Samuel Lebens pays hommage to the career of chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:
The chief rabbi’s growing series of commentaries on the weekly Torah reading, his prayer books for regular and high-holidays, and the dozens of books that he has penned, have touched hearts around the world; every paragraph he writes testifies to the depth of his soul and to the breadth of his knowledge; these words will long outlive the controversies that political engagement brought upon him.
When I was 18 years old, I found myself in a dark and lonely place while I was struggling in a yeshiva to find my way in life. I wrote an email to the chief rabbi, and his heartfelt response to me lit a flame in my heart that hasn’t been extinguished since. Who knows how many others there are whose lives have been shaped for the better by this peerless spokesman for Judaism?
Quote: "I thank you also for bravely defending the values of Judaism and Christianity during your papal term. I have no doubt that these values, which were so crucial to building the modern world, are no less critical for ensuring a future of security, prosperity and peace", PM Netanyahu thanking the outgoing Pope for deepening Jewish-Christian ties.
Number: 2,000, the number of pieces of Nazi Plundered art which the French government is looking to return to its Jewish owners.