To Read: According to Michael O'Hanlon and Jeremy Shapiro, the US under Obama is by no means retreating from the Middle East-
This debate on America’s role in the world is not new — indeed, it is a constant and a healthy conversation. America’s expansive commitments and unique power deserve constant re-evaluation. But however one feels about the wisdom of deeper involvement in Syria — and the two of us disagree among ourselves on that point — it should be easy to see that Obama’s America is not retreating and will not retreat from the world.
Quote: "I've been doing this now for about two years. And I have never had such intense, detailed, straightforward, candid conversations with the Iranian delegation before", a senior US official commenting on the nuclear negotiations with Iran.
Number: 40%, the favorability of Muslims in the US.
To Read: According to TNR's Ben Birenbaum, Netanyahu might very well be getting ready to divide Jerusalem-
For many, the idea that Benjamin Netanyahu will divide Jerusalem remains unfathomable. After all, he rode the slogan “Peres will divide Jerusalem” to the prime minister’s office in 1996. But Bibi would not be the first Israeli prime minister to change his mind on the issue, or even the second. Ehud Barak had famously declared Jerusalem a red line before agreeing to divide the city along ethnic lines in the 2000 Camp David talks. Ehud Olmert, who had campaigned vigorously for a united Jerusalem during his two terms as Jerusalem’s mayor, made the same offer in 2008 during his negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas (“It was a heartbreaking process, to offer that Jerusalem will be split,” Olmert told me earlier this year, recounting his conversion).
Quote: “If the Labor Party claims to carry the banner of peace, then that demands more than a speech. In order to pave the way for significant, dramatic decisions in the future, there needs to be genuine support within the government”, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni calling Labor to join Netanyahu's government for the sake of peace.
Number: 26, the number of years in prison given to the leader of a cult who reportedly enslaved and abused 6 women and 17 children.
The Middle East
To Read: Here is David Ignatius' original piece on the Turkey-Israel affair-
The Turkish-Israeli relationship became so poisonous early last year that the Turkish government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is said to have disclosed to Iranian intelligence the identities of up to 10 Iranians who had been meeting inside Turkey with their Mossad case officers.
Knowledgeable sources describe the Turkish action as a “significant” loss of intelligence and “an effort to slap the Israelis.” The incident, disclosed here for the first time, illustrates the bitter, multi-dimensional spy wars that lie behind the current negotiations between Iran and Western nations over a deal to limit the Iranian nuclear program. A Turkish Embassy spokesman had no comment.
Quote: "We have done nearly 50 percent of the verification work", Malik Ellahi, a political adviser on Syria for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, giving an update on the WMD inspections in Syria.
Number: 724, the number of Syrian refugees who are currently being detained in Egypt.
The Jewish World
To Read: A new book by John Connelly tells the story of the dramatic historic change in the traditionally strained Jewish-Catholic relationship (review by Samuel Freedman)-
In its landmark 1965 document Nostra Aetate, the Roman Catholic Church recanted centuries of teaching that the Jews, as a people, had killed Jesus Christ and as a result were cursed. Beyond removing the taint of deicide, Nostra Aetate went even further, calling Jews “beloved by God” and attesting to the Jewish identities of Jesus, his parents and the disciples. Drawing primarily on three chapters from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Nostra Aetate continued to proclaim the infallibility of the Church while radically altering what Catholic theology said about Jews.
Quote: “There can be no mistaking the distinct imprint that American Jewish organizations have made on the United Nations. Over the years we have campaigned together against injustice and intolerance. Our joint legacy is solid. The question now is where we go from here”, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon speaking at the 50th anniversary tribute gala dinner of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Number: 22, the percentage of Jews in Europe who are afraid to wear a Kippah in public.
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