To Read: Daniel Byman believes that the US needs to stop being stingy and remote when it comes to the Middle East-
All of this underlines the extent to which the United States is now seen as a marginal player in the Middle East, a grim fact that will inevitably make it harder to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together at the negotiating table. If the United States wants to protect its interests in the Middle East, it cannot rely on allies to do its bidding -- or otherwise do so on the cheap. The United States must pay to play. Some battles may not be worth fighting, but those that matter most will require high-level attention and resources. The problems of the region are getting worse, and if the United States doesn't shore up its influence now, it will be even less relevant when it most needs to act.
Quote: "The decision to use force is not one that any of us takes lightly. It is no less than an act of war", General Martin Dempsey in an open letter on the prospects of intervention in Syria (a letter in which he outlines the different available strategies and their costs).
Number: $1b, the size of the aid package US lawmakers are considering sending to Jordan.
To Read: Bernard Avishai thinks that John Kerry should be given more credit from Middle East pundits-
“It’s not an agreement—it’s an agreement to have lengthy negotiations,” writes the dean of Israeli columnists, Nahum Barnea, in Yediot Achronot; and negotiations “have been part of our life for a very long time.” Nathan Thrall, from the International Crisis Group, is even more skeptical. "Kerry, like his predecessors, has concentrated on 1967 issues such as borders and security, showing few signs that he has learned from past failures," he writes in The New York Review. "One hopes that he is not under the mistaken impression that Olmert and Abbas were inches away from a real agreement."
Look, as long as "one" is hoping, how about for political writers who think their job is not to condescend to Secretary Kerry but imagine his logic? Kerry has not spent dozens of hours in meetings with President Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Jordan's King Abdullah, and the leaders of the Arab League talking about the shape of the negotiating table.
Quote: “This is the best time in the world to call upon the Americans to release Pollard as a gesture for the beginning of negotiations", Israeli MK Nachman Shai, commenting on Netanyahu's rejected attempt to get Jonathan Pollard freed as part of the peace process gestures.
Number: 158,000, the number of Christians living in Israel.
The Middle East
To Read: Ben Lynfield writes about the pressure Hamas has been facing since the removal of Morsi-
Still, Hamas knew that they had in the Egyptian president someone who basically sympathized with them. But now, if the state media is any indication, post-Morsi Egypt is veering for the first time into outright hostility towards Hamas, something that would inevitably also entail favoritism towards its rival, Abbas. As Amman-based commentator Osama el-Sharif noted in a recent article in the Jordan Times, the Egyptian media is now blaming Hamas for lawlessness in the Sinai Peninsula and for carrying out attacks on soldiers and policemen there. The media has also been alleging Hamas was involved in attacks on prisons on January 29, 2011 that freed thirty Islamists, including Morsi.
Quote: "This step won't affect Hezbollah or the resistance. The resistance is present on Lebanese territory and not in Europe", Hezbollah parliamentary member al-Walid Soukariah responding to the EU's decision to blacklist Hezbollah.
Number: 16, the number of months which Marte Deborah Dalelv was sentenced to for having 'sex outside marriage' after being raped in Dubai.
The Jewish World
To Read: Shai Secunda describes a curious secular event dedicated to the place of Talmud in Israeli society-
And then came the Second Renaissance, with its ambitious mega-funds, sleek tiqunei leil shavuot, secular yeshivot, and indefatigable cultural warriors. The canon would have to open – and open it did. Among other sources of inspiration, Midrash, which had been an area of interest in the ivory tower for some time, put on a particularly good public performance. More recently, the Talmud has, if ever so hesitatingly, begun to regain its traditional pride of place in Israeli society, at least among a certain culturally literate class. When Ruth Kalderon’s inaugural speech in the Knesset went viral, it was a climax to a crescendo that had been building for some time. Now the question is simply, what next?
Quote: "Don’t ask what world Jewry can do for us. Ask what we can do for world Jewry", MK Tachi Hanegbi paraphrasing President Kennedy at the inaugural meeting of the Knesset's new lobby for strengthening the Jewish people.
Number: 39, the number of Jewish graves which were desecrated in the Serbian city of Subotica.
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