To Read: Rosa Brooks writes about how American paranoia about anything government makes people overly suspicious about some pretty good journalism the State has been producing-
Okay, I guess I get it. With so much idiotic privately produced propaganda already widely available here in the U.S. of A., who needs government propaganda? Our private sector already does a fine job of disseminating inflammatory misinformation, thank you very much. I mean: We already have Fox News, Matt Drudge, and TruthOut. We can already find plenty of media outlets that purvey shamelessly one-sided, irresponsible garbage. Why muddy the waters by adding government-funded news?
It reminds me of our collective outrage over NSA data collection: We're fine with having unaccountable for-profit corporate entities collect all our data, but God forbid that our democratically elected government should collect the same data we offer Facebook with reckless abandon!
Quote: "Through hard and deliberate, patient work, and most importantly through quiet work, we have been able to narrow those gaps very significantly", John Kerry showing admirable persistence.
Number: 36, the percentage of Americans who believe that what happens in Egypt is 'very important' to US interests (down from 46 percent last year).
To Read: Avi Issacharoff points out that while the EU's dramatic decision undermines the Kerry peace efforts, it has put the Palestinian issue in the Israeli headlines for the first time in a whle-
Apart from the immediate damage done to Kerry’s efforts, it must be said, the EU has achieved something that Palestinian and American diplomats have been unable to do for a long time: It has returned the Palestinian issue, and the arguments surrounding settlement, to the top of the Israeli agenda.
It is difficult to recall the last time that news bulletins here opened with issues such as building in the territories and the need to return to negotiations with the Palestinians. Yet that is what’s been happening for the last two days.
Quote: “Whoever wants to talk is welcome to do so, but I’m not handing out free gifts”, Naftali Bennett opposing the IDF's decision to open West Bank checkpoints as a sign of goodwill toward the Palestinians.
Number: 130, the number of Nepali peacekeepers who are moving from Lebanon to the Golan.
The Middle East
Headline: Iran's Rouhani dismisses Israeli threats
To Read: Amitai Etzioni thinks that 'defanging Iran' would solve a whole lot of the Middle East's regional conflicts-
If Iran were defanged, Hezbollah would be forced to withdraw its forces from Syria, leaving Assad without a major source of arms, advisers and funds. The Iraqi Shia would be less emboldened, and might be more ready to come to terms with their Sunni compatriots. While Iran’s influence in Iraq is limited, it does egg on the more extremist Shia wing. Bahrain, Qatar, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia would find it much easier to deal with Shia-driven violent dissent in their respective parts.
Quote: "We see the failure of the U.N. Security Council to respond to the slaughter in Syria ... a disgrace that history will judge harshly", Samantha Power uses interesting wording to condemn inaction in Syria.
Number: 565, Turkey and Syria share a 565 mile-long border.
The Jewish World
To Read: A new Biography tells the story of Nathan Birenbaum, the influential thinker who coined the term 'Zionism' but who died in complete obscurity after embracing orthodoxy (review by Kalman Weiser)-
In choosing Birnbaum as his subject, Olson reflects some of the more recent trends in Jewish historiography both in North America, where a wave of recent scholarship examines non-Zionist models of nationalism in the Jewish diaspora, and in Israel, where Orthodoxy is being explored like nationalism and assimilation. Although historians have long ignored Orthodoxy as a dark force of the pre-modern era, it is now recognized as precisely one of “a string of quintessentially modern ideologies” fully active in the political arena. Instead of viewing each of Birnbaum’s intellectual transformations as distinct and transitory phases marked by the radical renunciation of former ideals, Olson detects an underlying continuity and coherence. Each phase was marked by the search for Jewish cultural authenticity as well as for a salvific role, whether construed in secular or religious terms, for the Jewish people in a larger human drama.
Quote: “I seek to follow his teachings — his inclusive approach to Jewish life”, the new President of Hilel, Eric Fingerhut, vows to follow the spirit of old Hilel.
Number: $1.24b, Holocaust survivors and victims' heirs have received $1.24 billion from a Swiss fund set up after a scandal over dormant accounts of Jews killed in World War II.