To Read: David Rothkopff thinks that fear and worst case scenarios have been playing too big a role in US foreign strategy-
From the invasion of Iraq to the Patriot Act to the embrace of torture to the expansion of domestic surveillance programs to the failure to intervene earlier in Syria to the constant shifting of "red lines" in that country or Iran to the bumbling and lack of follow-through in Libya to the failure to stand up to abuses by "allies" in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq or by rivals like Russia or Iran, fear has warped Americans' perspectives, justified alternatively both overreaction and inaction, and enabled the United States to rationalize bad policies into prudent ones on an ongoing basis for over a decade.
Quote: “Bank Mellat was designated for sanctions by the US, the UK and the EU because it supports Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation activities”, US Treasury voicing displeasure at a UK Court decision to lift sanctions from an Iranian Bank.
Number: 50, the number of terrorist plots the NSA's surveillance has helped thwart, according to their own assesment.
To Read: David Pollock and Michael Eisenstadt write about the strategic benefits the US gets from its alliance with Israel-
Israel’s training of Boston first responders spotlights one of the many ways the United States has benefited from bilateral cooperation with the Jewish state. The U.S.-Israeli alliance contributes more than ever to American security. The strategic logic that first brought the two countries together to fight Soviet influence and counter radical Arab nationalism during the Cold War endures amid the current challenges of political Islam and violent extremism.
The U.S.-Israel relationship isn’t symmetrical, as the U.S. provides Israel with indispensable economic and military support — to the tune of more than $115 billion since 1949. But it is a two-way street.
Quote: “The weapons themselves are the greatest threat to Israel’s security. We want to alert people to an existential threat – and Israel already has enough of those”, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War co-president, Dr. Ira Helfand, speaking at the Knesset.
Number: $1.9b, the value of Israel's annual aircraft and aviation equipment exports.
The Middle East
To Read: The Washington Institute's Mehdi Khalaji has followed Iran's election commercials and believes that the election of Rohani is a testament to the success of the nuclear sanctions-
Rouhani’s victory can be interpreted as the success of the West’s policy toward Iran’s nuclear program. Since the start of sanctions, many have doubted whether sanctions are useful, and whether they would change Iran’s nuclear policy, but the 2013 election proved that sanctions deeply affected people’s opinions of the government’s policy of resistance rather than compromise. During the campaign, many of the candidates criticized the resistance approach, which was defended only by current nuclear negotiator Jalili. Even Velayati — who has been regarded as an influential advisor to the supreme leader— criticized Jalili in the televised debate, saying Jalili’s policy harmed Iran and produced zero benefit.
Quote: “Rohani’s power at that time comes directly from one individual, and that’s Rafsanjani. As far as that bombing was concerned, because Rafsanjani had to give his approval for that, there was no doubt Rohani was aware of it, and obviously his approval’s not necessary. He’s a subordinate. But he certainly would have been aware of all the discussions that led to the attack”, Iran specialist Reuel Gerecht commenting on the role of Hassan Rohani, Iran's new president elect, in the 1994 Buenos Aires bombings.
Number: 6, the number of Syria's international Heritage sites which have been declared endangered by UNESCO.
The Jewish World
To Read: Orthodox Rabbi Avi Weiss finds halakhic support for his ground braking decision to ordain orthodox female rabbis-
…His brothers were incensed: “a place where your ancestors acted prohibitively, will you act permissively?”
Rebbe responded: makom hinihu li avotai le-hit’gader bo– my ancestors have left room for me in which to distinguish myself. (Hullin 6b, 7a) In other words, it’s been left over for the next generation. No generation can do all of the work that is necessary. It is not only the right, but the obligation of each generation le-hit’gader bo—to distinguish itself. Not to distinguish itself in an arrogant sense, but in the sense of continuing the work of not being frozen in the past and thus taking halakha to even greater heights. Interestingly, Rebbe used the word le-hit’gader from geder, fence. Although permitting the produce without tithing, Rebbe declares, “I have done so within proper parameters.”
Quote: “they’ll let anyone in. It’s kind of beyond Reform. It’s kind of Relaxed”, Pulitzer-prize winning funnyman Dave Barry about his wife's reform synagogue which he attends with her in a witty interview in Israel.
Number: 50, the percent of people who chose Sigmund Freud as Britain's most influential refugee in a poll honoring international refugee day.