To Read: Abbas Milani criticizes some experts' tendency to over-legitimize the Iranian government and to over-emphasize its rationality:
Two follies have long haunted American policy on Iran. Some critics and foes of the Islamic regime in Tehran have preferred “no negotiation with the regime” as the proper American policy. They have argued that even talking to the regime confers upon it a legitimacy that it does not possess and does not deserve to possess. The regime, this camp claims, is on the verge of collapse, and negotiating with it would only prolong its moribund life. At the other extreme are those who have argued that the regime is in fact legitimate and here to stay, and so have insisted that negotiating with it is the solution not just for the current nuclear impasse but also for all the points of contention between Tehran and the West. If past attempts at negotiation have not worked, these “realists” explain, it has been only because American policy-makers have not tried hard enough. Every president from Carter to Obama has come under criticism from this accommodationist camp for disingenuous or half-hearted attempts at negotiation. Advocates of this approach have shown different degrees of sympathy with, and even outright support for, the regime in Iran.
Quote: "It is of the utmost importance that is perception is changed; especially Israel's perception. If Israel thinks this is so, they will take actions without consulting the US. The President is the only person who can dispel this perception that the US is withdrawing; this is why this visit is so important as it will reaffirm US involvement and discussions can move forward on preventing the development of nuclear weapons", former US under-Secretary of Defense, Dov Zakheim about the perception that the US is withdrawing from world affairs, yesterday at the Herzliya conference.
Number: 41%, the global median approval rate of US leadership (the lowest in Obama's Presidency).
To Read: Aaron David Miller outlines (together with the Hebrew University demography expert Sergio Dellapergolla) some important facts about Israel's demography and presents his some serious conclusions-
For Dellapergola, Israel's demographic future constitutes its central dilemma -- and this predicament has only been sharpened by the results of the recent election. Essentially, Israel faces two choices: It can be a conglomerate of tribes struggling against each other, or an open society that respects cultural and religious differences, where each citizen participates in building the economy and shaping the state's institutions.
Even more fundamentally, demographic trends mean that Israel can't have it all. It can't be a Jewish state, a democratic state, and a state in control of its whole historical land. It can only have two of its objectives at a time. Think of it this way: Israel can be Jewish and territorial -- but not democratic. Or it can be democratic and territorial -- but not Jewish. Or finally, it can be Jewish and democratic -- but not territorial. This third choice is the one that can conceivably lead to a two-state solution.
Quote: “Every Jew that goes to the Temple Mount puts another stone in the building of the Temple, and is making another step to fulfill Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount”, Likud MK, Moshe Faiglin, promoting the idea of a third temple.
Number: 48, the percentage of Israeli Haredi men who are employed.
The Middle East
To Read: Patrick Seale claims that Bashar Assad's tendency to focus on Syria's foreign affairs while neglecting the internal/rural strife and suffering- a tendency he inherited from his father- is the main reason for the intensity of the current crisis-
All these aggressions were rightly seen by Damascus as regime-threatening crises. It was not altogether surprising, therefore, that when the uprising started in Deraa in 2011, the Syrian regime seems to have interpreted it as yet another external conspiracy against it, rather than a cry of anger and despair by its own much-tried population. The hope is that the lessons of these many crises will have been learned and that Syrians will now unite to rescue their country from the abyss.
Quote: "The Iranians really are supporting massively the regime. They have been increasing their support for the last three, four months through Iraq's airspace and now trucks. And the Iraqis really are looking the other way", a senior western diplomat about Syria.
Number: 1.28m, the daily number of barrels of oil which Iran exported last month.
The Jewish World
To Read: A JPost editorial responds to the disturbing recent statistics and revelations coming from Austria-
In the postwar years, Vienna sought to shirk all responsibility for the Holocaust by pretending that it was merely another conquered and victimized European country, whose citizenry was forced against its will to endure German occupation. But not all truth can be conveniently rewritten.
The indisputable fact is that the homeland of both Adolf Hitler and Adolf Eichmann enthusiastically cheered what was later expediently portrayed as a hostile takeover. Hitler’s so-called annexation was cause for rapturous celebration and no one – not even the Germans – matched the Austrian alacrity to rob the Jews, persecute them, humiliate and brutalize them. In many ways Berlin learned pernicious lessons from Vienna.
Quote: “He lit a candle on the menorah, attended a Buenos Aires synagogue for Slichot, a pre-Rosh Hashana service, the Jewish New Year, as well as a commemoration of Kristallnacht, the wave of violent Nazi attacks against Jews before World War II", Abe Foxman citing the new pope's credentials.
Number: 2,000,000, the number of emails which the Russian Jewish Congress is going to send out today, offering Russians free matzah for Passover.