To Read: The New Republic's Michael Kazin believes that the American public's much talked about 'war weariness' is not a post-Iraq anomaly-
It is thus the current distaste for intervention in Syria that keeps faith with American tradition. Obama is just the latest president who has struggled to justify using force in ways that confuse or enrage millions of his fellow citizens. He insists, like several of his predecessors, on the need to protect national security and the national interest; he refrains from calls to make the world “safe for democracy” or defending the national “honor.” But he too has learned that when the nation’s leader asks Americans to rally around the flag of war, the call is received more as an option than an obligation.
Quote: "Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region", John Kerry warming up to Assad just three years ago.
Number: 24,580, the estimated number of deaths by guns since the Newtown shootings until today.
To Read: The Washington Institute's David Makovsky argues that, 20 years after the famous handshake, the Oslo agreement is still very much relevant-
Although one can look at Oslo at twenty and bemoan its shortcomings, a fuller appreciation emerges when one honestly assesses its achievements and compares the likely consequences of its alternatives. Destroying Israel and the Palestinian nationalist movement in the hope of building a new binational state is not only morally repulsive, but also a nonstarter. Any solution must account for the fact that nationalism remains a powerful force in the Middle East and cannot be ignored.
Quote: "In my final meeting with Netanyahu in Egypt, he approached me with a proposal to settle Palestinians from the Gaza Strip in Sinai. Netanyahu came with a map of the border between Gaza, Israel and Egypt, and offered this as a theoretical proposal alone, to test what our response would be. I told him he ought to bury the proposal fast, unless he wanted a war to break out between Egypt and Israel", Egypt's original ousted President, Hosni Mubarak, recalling a crazy plan offered he claimed was proposed by Netanyahu.
Number: 24, between 2008 and 2012, the average price of homes in Israel increased by 54%.
The Middle East
To Read: Time's Aryn Baker reports about the fight between different Syrian rebel groups (which is, according to her, a good thing)-
To Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center, an international-affairs think tank based in Beirut, the widening schism between ISIS [al-Qaeda affiliated group] and other, more moderate elements of the opposition is a good thing, even if it temporarily distracts from the battle against Assad. “The rise of [Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS] groups is a far bigger threat to the region than Assad staying on for a few more years in Damascus,” he says, noting that the Assad regime — despite its oft-vocalized fears of a jihadist takeover — has notably refrained from attacking ISIS targets, the better to undermine the rest of the rebel groups. The Supreme Military Council (SMC), the Western-backed group that is attempting to organize the FSA, understands the importance of getting rid of ISIS, says Salem. “They know [the rebels] can’t defeat the regime alone, and they know that the U.S. won’t let them win if that means letting Jabhat al-Nusra win. So they have realized that strategically speaking, Nusra is a no go. So they have to divorce.”
Quote: "This time we are coming with a more full-fledged ... desire for this", Iran's new nuclear atomic energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, pledging greater cooperation with the UN on nuclear matters.
Number: 56, the number of people the Egyptian authorities arrested in a big raid in an Islamist-held town.
The Jewish World
Headline: Shoah studies to be mandatory in Spain?
To Read: Here is Tablet's list of 101 Jewish books which define the living Jewish cultural inheritance in America today-
Before we explain what the list is, we should tell you what it’s not: It’s not a list of “The Greatest Jewish Books of All Time,” an undertaking that would involve sifting through thousands of texts in dozens of languages produced over the course of millennia and that could only result in either a Cecil B. DeMille-like cast of thousands or a list with one entry: the Bible. What we wanted to create was a library of works that have actually moved us and shaped the way we understand ourselves as Jewish human beings in the world. We read some of these books as children; some we read under our covers as teenagers; some we got off college syllabi; some we discovered, with wonder and awe and surprise, as adults. But all are books of supreme importance in shaping our lives and our understanding of the different ways one might be a Jew in the world—whether the authors are religious Jews, or secular Jews, or not Jewish by your definition or someone else’s definition, or by any definition at all.
Quote: “There is no one more worthy of this award than Woody Allen", Theo Kingma, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, announcing The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's decision to give Woody Allen the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2014 Golden Globe Awards (the question is whether he will show up).
Number: 400, the number of etrogs (citrons) which were seized at Ben Gurion airport in the past two weeks.