To Read: Jefrrey Golberg writes about the disagreement between State and Defense on Syria-
It is possible, even for those of us who have been inclined toward intervention, to have a great deal of sympathy for Dempsey’s position. There are those in the Pentagon who think that the State Department has romanticized the Syrian opposition. What diplomats see as a civil war featuring bands of poorly armed moderates struggling to free themselves from the grip of an evil dictator, the generals see as a religious war between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda. Why would the U.S. risk taking sides in a battle between two loathed terror organizations? Memories of Iraq, too, are fresh in the minds of Dempsey and his colleagues.
On the other hand, a Kerry partisan told me, U.S. intervention in Syria would not necessarily have to look like U.S. intervention in Iraq. When I mentioned the Albright-Powell exchange of 20 years ago, he pointed out something obvious: President Bill Clinton eventually decided to use air power in the Balkans. And it brought the Serbian government to its knees.
Quote: “We love to get it, and our finance minister would probably kill me if he heard me say this, but we could get along without it”, former minister of Defense Moshe Arens talking about American aid to Israel.
Number: 34, the Jersey number of Ray Allen, who scored this amazing clutch shot in game 6 of the NBA Finals yesterday night (this isn't really the type of thing our blog usually covers but it was that impressive).
To Read: Shmuley Boteach and Peter Beinart have been having a very public battle on the Israel-Palestine question. Here's Boteach's latest response-
Simple question to Peter: would he be OK with Hamas ruling in the West Bank as well as Gaza, if that is the price to be paid for a Palestinian state?
The Hamas Charter reads like a modern-day Mein Kampf: “The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, ‘O Muslims... there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
The solution for the conflict is for my Palestinian brothers, who currently live in Gaza under the tyranny of Hamas and in the West Bank under the corruption and mismanagement of the PA, to enjoy a benevolent, democratic government like the 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel...
Quote: "We in Britain have our queen, and you have your Shimon", Tony Blair congratulating Shimon Peres.
Number: 69, the percentage of Israelis who believe that African refugees are 'a burden on Israel's economy'.
The Middle East
To Read: Middle East scholar Robert G. Rabil believes that the US needs to understand that Iran and Hezbollah are in for a long-term struggle in Syria-
Significantly, Iran and Hezbollah believe that Western society has neither the stamina nor the staying power to cope with protracted conflicts. By recognizing that the conflict has become a pure struggle of power, meant to shape the political map of the Middle East, and expressed in bloody sectarian terms, Washington and its allies should devise a new medium-term strategy: the objective should be to exhaust Iran, Hezbollah and the Assad regime in Syria, with the goal of bringing a negotiated settlement.
Quote: “I made the decision to step down myself. No one pressured me. It was possible for me to stay in power but I decided to step down to protect people’s lives and not shed blood", former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak discussing his decision to leave power in a rare interview.
Number: 20, according to Russian FM Lavrov, Iran is ready to stop Uranium enrichment at 20 percent.
The Jewish World
To Read: Philosophy Professor Brian Klug uses Wittgenstein to bridge between religious 'belief' and scientific 'belief'-
Then what makes a belief religious? “It appears to me,” wrote Wittgenstein in 1947, “as though a religious belief could only be something like passionately committing oneself to a system of coordinates. Hence, although it’s belief, it is really a way of living, or a way of judging life.” The point is that this is what the word ‘belief’ does when the context of its use is religious rather than scientific or Wissenschaftlich. It does not indicate a process of weighing evidence and drawing a conclusion. What it indicates is a commitment, a commitment that shows in the life of the believer: in the way they think and in their whole approach to life. So, getting back to the example of the Last Judgment, Wittgenstein imagines someone who has “what you might call an unshakeable belief” and comments: “It will show not by reasoning or by appeal to ordinary grounds for belief, but rather by regulating for all in his life.”
Quote: “[Alice Walker is] someone who is unabashedly infected with anti-Semitism”, Abe Foxman condemning Alice Walker.
Number: 15,700, the number of Jews Laszlo Csatary is accused of killing.
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