To Read: According to Doyle McManus, Obama is following the 'Aspin Doctrine' doctrine in Syria ('a slope isn't slippery if you're willing to walk away')-
Obama was left with two unpalatable options: escalate or accept defeat. Doing nothing might have led to irreversible results, the collapse of the rebels, so he chose to escalate — but only a little and with a vow to put no U.S. boots on the ground.
Some critics will still warn that he has stepped onto a slippery slope that leads to direct military intervention. But that's where the Aspin Doctrine comes in. There are plenty of examples of the United States aiding one faction in a civil war, only to disengage if our client army failed (Ronald Reagan's Contras in Nicaragua, for example).
Obama's gradual escalation doesn't preclude military intervention later — and could even pave the way for it.
Quote: “I see it as a potentially hopeful sign. I think the question for us now is: If he is interested in, as he has said in his campaign events, mending his relations — Iran’s relations with the rest of the world — there’s an opportunity to do that”, Denis McDonough, President Obama's Chief of Staff, commenting on the Rowhani election in Iran.
Number: 60, the estimated percent decrease in American gas imports since 2005.
To Read: Evelyn Gordon views the Palestinians' refusal to allow the building of an egalitarian section at the western wall as a kind of test of American Jewry's true priorities on Israel-
Most liberal American Jews have two main demands of Israel: They want it to recognize the non-Orthodox denominations, and they want it to make peace with the Palestinians, right now. The latter demand isn’t confined to fringe anti-Israel activists; it’s routinely voiced by long-time Israel supporters like Rabbi Eric Yoffie or Leon Wieseltier. So I’d like all these Jews to seriously consider this question: When these two primary demands conflict, what do you do–capitulate to the PA in the interests of “peace” and give up on being able to pray at the Western Wall in your own fashion, or insist on your rights at the Wall at the cost of further antagonizing the Palestinians, for whom modifications of the Western Wall Plaza are no less objectionable than new outposts in the heart of the West Bank?
Quote: "Never has so much time been invested in something so pointless. We need to build, build, build. If the money spent on caviar in cocktail parties dealing with the idea of a Palestinian state would have been used for building interchanges (in the territories) – everything would be different", Economy Minister and Habayir Hayehudi chairman, Naftali Bennett, talking about the pointlessness of a Palestine state.
Number: 600, the number of people in a 24/7 military force created in the Gaza strip to prevent rocket fires at Israel, according to an Arab source.
The Middle East
To Read: Shashank Joshi believes that even though Iran's new President will indeed be in the shadow of the supreme leader, and even though serious foreign policy shifts are not likely to occur, there still might be reason for celebration-
These geopolitical issues aren’t the only ones that matter, though. Iranians live under an autocratic, repressive and economically stagnating system. Anything that eases those conditions is an unalloyed good. More important, the events of the past several years underscore that evolutionary political change is far preferable, both to its participants and bystanders, to the revolutionary violence witnessed in places like Syria. Rohani’s regime credentials may allow him to serve as a bridge figure, capable of couching modest reforms terms that are politically acceptable to the hardliners.
Quote: "Jerusalem and its holy sites are of the highest priority to the Palestinian Authority's new government", the new Palestinian PM, Rami Hamdallah, visiting the Al Aqsa Mosque.
Number: 77,000, the number of Syrian refugees in Egypt.
The Jewish World
To Read: Adam Kirsch sees interesting similarities between Chaim Nachman Bialik's attitude toward Jewish Halakha and Marcel Proust's (equally Jewish) attitude toward metaphysical abstraction-
Even as Proust explicitly rejects religion, he invokes metaphysics: specifically, the Platonic scheme of a life that preexists this one, which we spend in the company of pure Ideas and for which we long unceasingly in this fallen world. The Idea serves Proust in the same way that halakha serves Bialik: Both are attempts to reconstitute the kind of absolute authority that is missing from the secular world. And both are invoked, as they have to be, only hypothetically. For Bialik, we must live as if we believed halakha were divine, in order to create a noble national life; for Proust, we must live as if we believed in a world “entirely different from this one,” in order to create a noble work of art.
Quote: “We know who runs Poland … it’s run by Jews, and particularly bad Jews”, Jan Kielb, the leader of a new Polish Antisemitic party which was allowed to run for parliament by the Polish courts after no prosecutor has lodged a complaint about the party.
Number: about 100, the number of Jews saved by Odoardo Focherini, the first Righteous Gentile to be beatified, in WW2.