Headline: ‘I did it’: Obama takes oath
To Read: Fouad Ajami believes that the world cannot expect to see a lot of military assistance from the Obama-Kerry-Hagel triumvirate-
The world needn’t worry about the assertiveness of U.S. power under Obama, Kerry and Hagel. It is people in distress — who might recall a different era when American armor and boots on the ground spelled the difference between rescue and calamity — who must come to terms with the near-certainty that the cavalry will not turn up.
Quote: “This position has perhaps cost him more on a personal, and even energic, level than most of his predecessors, because he was most entirely an outsider”, Playwright Tony Kushner, who has recently dined with President Obama at the white house, quoted in a piece about the personal changes the Obamas have gone through in the past 4 years.
Number: $5.8 trillion, the increase in the national debt during Obama’s first term.
To Read: Nadav Shragai is disappointed by the superficial public debate surrounding the Israeli elections-
It is too bad we missed this opportunity to deepen the public's knowledge with the very issues they are actually voting on. It is unfortunate that the main issue voters look at today is the leader's image rather than his or her ideology. Exceptions to this rule are, of course, the ultra-Orthodox parties and some of those voting for Bennett, Meretz and Labor. In these sectors, ideology is not a curse word. Fleeting seasonal parties' voter base is increasing massively because the elections have been personalized and lack substantive discourse.
Quote: "The radical Right in Israel is striving to pass anti-Arab laws whose aim is to ethnically cleanse the Arabs", a special statement by the Arab league urging Arab-Israelis to exercise their voting rights in the upcoming elections.
Number: 67 (or maybe 66) the number of right wing/religious- bloc parliament members in the next Knesset according to our latest Israel poll trends post.
The Middle East
To Read: Bruce Reidel reflects on the possibility of a game changing revolution in Saudia Arabia and its consequences for Obama’s second administration-
Revolutionary change in the kingdom would be a disaster for American interests across the board. Saudi Arabia is America’s oldest ally in the Middle East, a partnership that dates to 1945. The United States has no serious option for heading off a revolution if it is coming; we are already too deeply wedded to the kingdom. Obama should ensure the best possible intelligence is available to see a crisis coming and then try to ride the storm.
Quote: "If the Syrian President Bashar Assad is toppled, the line of resistance in the face of Israel will be broken", Iranian presidential contender Ali Akbar Velayati discusses Iran’s position on Syria.
Number: 100,000 the number of new refugees in Syria in the past month alone.
The Jewish World
To Read: Reform Rabbi Uri Regev contends that the two leading candidates for Israel’s chief Rabbinate positions will not do much to solve the country’s pressing religion and state problems-
Both candidates, as well as the others whose names have come up for the post, hold the view that Israel should exercise religious coercion and deny both non-Orthodox and secular Jews their freedom of and from religion. Instead, what Israel needs is to fully realize its founding promise for “freedom of religion and conscience,” as envisioned in Israel’s Declaration of Independence — nothing more and nothing less.
Quote: “The Jewish home is a party of Goyim”, the spiritual leader of Shas, Rabbi Ovadya Yosef accuses Naftali Bennett’s the Jewish home party of not being Jewish enough.
Number: 33- the percent decrease of enrollment in American conservative- affiliated day schools in the past 15 years.
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