To Read: David Rhode writes about the State Department's inefficient aid and civilian outreach programs in the Middle East-
The goal should not be to hurl tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars at the Middle East. Nor should it be to simply increase the size of the State Department and USAID.
Instead, American policy makers should change their antiquated concept of national power. Military might remains vital, but in a globalized economy trade with the United States, American technology and the threat of economic isolation are now national security tools as well. Washington's options in the Middle East go beyond mounting massive ground invasions or doing nothing. The United States should work with viable allies where they exist and admit where they do not. In the end, it is economic growth and local moderates, not American soldiers, that will marginalize militants.
The world is changing but Washington is not.
Quote: "The idea of getting weapons in — if we know the right people to get them —my guess is we will give them to them", Senator Patrick Leahy talking about arming Syrian rebels.
Number: 53, the percentage of Americans who report they are worried about their finances, the lowest since the recession.
To Read: Gil Troy defends Netanyahu's assumption that Palestinian rejectionism is the main reason that the regional conflict still subsists-
Yes, there are rejectionists on the Israeli side too, but they simply do not dominate Israeli discourse as the Palestinian rejectionists do, especially since most Israelis in the 1990s began acknowledging Palestinian nationalism and national needs, after a long period of denial.
And yes, some Israeli settlements pose a challenge—but Israel has removed settlers from some communities for the sake of peace before. Netanyahu has endorsed a two-state solution, acknowledging that the status quo will not remain. But anyone who believes in peace has to ask: who can expect Israelis to trust again, when withdrawals have repeatedly resulted in more violence, continuing hostility, and broad dismissal of Israel’s sacrifices for peace?
Quote: "We have no wish to escalate the current situation. We estimate that the Syrians will not retaliate, and we're now waiting to see what happens. Israeli policy will remain as it was. We'll act according to the need and the red lines set in place", a 'senior Israeli official' sharing his thoughts on the recent bombings.
Number: 32, the reduced number of months Israelis males will serve in the army according to a new agreement which will be implemented in 2015.
The Middle East
To Read: An AEI paper examines Iran's strategy of supporting Assad and cautiously hedging their bet by funding certain militant groups in Syria-
The Syrian conflict has already constrained Iran's influence in the Levant, and the fall of the Assad regime would further reduce Tehran's ability to project power. Iran's hedging strategy aims to ensure, however, that it can continue to pursue its vital interests if and when the regime collapses, using parts of Syria as a base as long as the Syrian opposition fails to establish full control over all of Syrian territory.
Quote: "If God permits, we will see this butcher, this murderer receive his judgement in this world", Turkish PM Erdogan voicing a harsh condemnation of Assad.
Number: "maybe 40", the number of 'Princes, Kings and Princes' which Egyptian President Morsi contacted to broker the Israel-Gaza peace agreement in November, according to his own account.
The Jewish World
To Read: Cinema lecturer Charles Drazin follows the history of the cinematic portrayals of Dickens' archetypal Jewish villain, Fagin from Oliver Twist-
The crude, racist stereotyping went back to the original conception of the character. When Fagin makes his first appearance, he is described as "a very old shrivelled Jew, whose villainous-looking and repulsive face was obscured by a quantity of matted red hair". He is then referred to invariably as "the Jew" as though that were the key to his behaviour.
Dickens came to regret this, explaining that, at the time, the kind of criminal he was describing invariably was a Jew, but he was so uncomfortable that he removed many of the references from a later edition. In practice, however, it was no more than a gesture, offering little practical mitigation of the racial slur. A richly dramatic caricature, Fagin lived on into the 20th century as a negative but often revived archetype of Jewishness.
Quote: "The prime minister did not confront the true nature of the problem: the threat posed by the anti-Semites in general and by the extreme-right Jobbik party in particular. We regret that Mr. Orban did not address any recent anti-Semitic or racist incidents in the country, nor did he provide sufficient reassurance that a clear line has been drawn between his government and the far-right fringe", a WJC statement following Hungarian PM Victor Urban's speech at their assembly.
Number: 500,000, the number of Jews who served in the Red Army during WW2.