To Read: Biden's Gun Goals Are Wide-Reaching
Colleen McCain and Laura Meckler of the Wall Street Journal anticipate the impact of the Vice President's recommendations for reducing gun violence.
The administration will need congressional approval to accomplish key objectives, such as banning high-capacity magazines and certain types of guns. House Democrats have assembled their own gun-violence task force, and Chairman Mike Thompson (D., Calif.) plans to make his own recommendations in February.
Quote: "The presence of foreign troops puts the lives of villagers in danger by attracting [insurgent] attacks. If Afghan forces are unable at this stage to take control of villages, how will they do so after international troops leave?” Afghan President Hamid Karzai's spokesman apparently backtracks on an agreement between Karzai and Obama on the future role of U.S. forces in the country
Number: $500 million The amount the U.S. has spent in the last four years fighting Islamist militants in West Africa
To Read: Outcome the ultimate test
Netanyahu has failed to halt Iran's nuclear program, writes Shimon Schiffer of Yedioth Aharonoth.
Netanyahu mentioned this week his efforts to mobilize countries to impose sanctions against Iran. Really? The prime minister thought we had forgotten that he used to claim that sanctions were ineffective and that the only way to stop Iran was to launch an Israeli attack that would lift the existential threat on the Jewish state and prevent a disaster. So let's stick to the facts: Netanyahu equated the Holocaust to a nuclear Iran and doubted our ability to survive in the event that Tehran produces nuclear weapons. The panic he created, it was argued, led to the withdrawal of billions of shekels that were deposited in Israel and to a surge in the number of Israelis applying for foreign passports.
Quote: "It is unreasonable that the government continues to raise taxes on the Israeli middle class, and at the same time spends millions of shekels on redundant ministries" Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid hits out at the Netanyahu government as parties step up their electioneering
Number: 7 The days left until Israel's Election Day
Sami Moubayed of Al-Monitor analyzes prospects for a political solution in Syria in the wake of a televised speech by President Bashar Assad.
..one proposal that has been floated is to create a military council under the new cabinet’s authority, which would reincorporate defected officers and Free Syrian Army members into the Syrian Army. Assad would transfer his military powers to this military council, and would stay on as a ceremonial head of state. In other words, a “phased” transfer of presidential powers would take place, starting on the executive and legislative level, followed by the military level. A plan like this is, of course, unacceptable to the Syrian regime.
Quote: "All I have done recently is share some articles which have been in the Jordanian press (in Arabic) about corruption. I am for transparency, against corruption, and yet they ban my account and continue to allow the leader of Hamas to have an account. I am not in favour of terrorism like he is. This is an attempt to silence me." Khaled Abu Toameh speaks out after a series of complaints led to the suspension of his Facebook account
Number: 19 The death toll when an Egyptian military train crashed in a Cairo suburb Tuesday
Writing in the Daily Beast, Jonathan Freedland stands up for the European Jewish community, which he claims is unfairly viewed by its American counterpart as suffering under extreme anti-Semitism.
... they fail to notice the intriguing paradox of European Jews' current position—that there are dangers, but also great triumphs. Take Britain. Jews here can feel unease at the tenor of the national conversation on Israel—a newspaper cartoon here, a politician's turn of phrase there—but they also enjoy a Jewish life that is in many ways richer than ever before. Limmud, the annual festival of Jewish learning that has gone global, began here, while Jewish Book Week has become London's biggest literary festival. The Booker Prize for 2011 was won by a novel about Jews, The Finkler Question, written by a man who has chronicled the British-Jewish sensibility better than anyone, Howard Jacobson. British TV currently airs not one but two highly rated sitcoms depicting Jewish family life. Meanwhile, if the current polls hold till 2015, Britain's next prime minister is set to be the first Jewish leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband—who repeatedly stresses the pride he takes in his Jewish roots.
Quote: One is at first unsettled by it. The word Jew is still a slightly sensitive issue if used improperly Dutch linguist Marc van Oostendorp explains that the word 'Jew' has become a new synonym for 'cool' in the Netherlands
Number: 72 The number of synagogues significantly damaged by Hurricane Sandy