To Read: Following Obama's counter-terrorism speech, Matthew Duss questions the common assumption that America is still at war-
Elsewhere in his speech last week, President Obama declared a renewed effort to close the Guantánamo Bay detention center, claiming that “there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened.”
There’s also no justification beyond politics for continuing to insist that we’re at war just because a collection of thugs insists we are. We will continue to debate the legality and effectiveness of various policies used to protect the country. But our enemies have told us that they would like nothing more than to draw us into a sustained, civilizational conflict. We shouldn't accommodate them.
Quote: "Short of sarin gas being lobbed at Tel Aviv, we are not going to intervene", a State Department official talking to FP about the prospects of a US intervention in Syria.
Number: 10,000, the amount of people who participated in the Obama campaign's nightly internal polls, which were apparently far more accurate than Gallup's.
To Read: Amos Harel tries to determine how big of a factor the settlements are when it comes to reaching an agreement with the Palestinians-
A few months before the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, and with a renewed effort about to be made to kick-start the peace talks − it’s useful to pause for a moment and examine what has happened in the West Bank these past two decades. A series of visits there reinforces the impression that, despite the good intentions of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the reality on the ground could well be the undoing of his new initiative, as happened with that of most of his predecessors since the mid-1990s.
The problem is not just the fundamental differences in the approaches of the two sides to the key issues (Jerusalem, borders, refugees), but developments on the ground − and, above all, the expansion of the settlements. The question, then, is whether the newest American effort has come too late.
Quote: “The pressure should be on the Israeli side and not on President Abbas. If Kerry can’t convince Israel to change its policies and practices, that’s his problem and not ours”, a Palestinian official talking about Kerry's advances.
Number: 500,000 the amount of money paid to the Clinton foundation for Bill Clinton's speech in honor of Israeli President Shimon Peres.
The Middle East
To Read: Turkish economist, Firat Demir analyzes the reasons for Turkey's recent uprisings in this FP article-
I am afraid that the government of Prime Minister Erdogan, like so many others before him in this country, has finally succumbed to the siren calls of dictatorship. Social engineering and authoritarian decision-making have now become the government's top policy tools. The Islamists seem to have replaced the Kemalist dreams of authoritarian modernization with their own dreams of authoritarian Islamization. But perhaps there is a bright spot in all of this. I suspect that the current protests in Ankara and Istanbul will soon spread to other cities. If that happens, it could very well mark the beginning of the end of Erdogan's ambitions to govern against the will of his own citizenry.
Quote: "Whoever considers attacking an active reactor is willing to invite another Chernobyl", former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, warning of the complications of Attacking Iran once a nuclear reactor is in place.
Number: 1,500, the number of wounded civilians trapped in Qusayr, according to the UN.
The Jewish World
To Read: The New Republic's Marc Tracy blames the majority of New York's mayoral candidates of pandering to Ultra-Orthodox Jews by endorsing a problematic practice-
So it was unsurprising, if massively dispiriting, to see that nearly all of the seven Democratic mayoral candidates shamelessly pandered to these communities on the metzitzah b’peh question at a Jewish-themed candidates forum in Brooklyn on Wednesday. Only City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, widely seen as the (weak) frontrunner and closest thing to a Bloomberg successor, defended the consent forms, according to the New York Times. The other candidates either criticized Bloomberg for steamrolling it or out-and-out opposed it. Comptroller John C. Liu bashed the form and the “billionaire mayor” who “decided he knows better than anyone else.” Public Advocate Bill de Blasio slammed Bloomberg for trying “to impose his will” and suggested the consent form embodies a lack of “respect for religious tradition.” Anthony Weiner, the only Jewish candidate, pointed to an old article in which he said metzitzah b’peh is none of the Health Department’s business.
Quote: “This decision by the Budapest city government, which is headed by a member of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party, puts into question the pledge given to the Jewish community that anti-Semitism will be fought vigorously by the Hungarian authorities", WJC President Ronald Lauder condemning the Budapest city council for deciding to name a street after a Hungarian author known for her anti-Semitic views.
Number: 5000, the number of Jews rescued by 35 of the residents of the French town Chambon during WW2.