To Read: According to Robert Kaplan, the US' Defense elites need to figure out how to explain the necessity of military expenditures to the American public-
Present and future threats are both insidious and less obvious than at any time in the past. The very interconnectedness of the world and technology's defeat of distance makes the oceans less of a barrier to the American mainland than ever before. But the elites have to do a much better job of explaining this to the public. And the armed services especially have to do a much better job of explaining to a skeptical public just why they are needed as much as ever in the past. To wit, air and naval platforms, because they take many years to design and build, require the necessary funding even when no obvious threat is on the horizon.
Quote: “This is either the dumbest piece of legislation I’ve ever seen or it’s the most devious, framing the White House push against new sanctions as a four-month period to wait on a report. If members of Congress need a report to tell them what to do next on Iran, then God help the United States of America”, a high ranking 'Jewish official' commenting on a proposed bill which would delay further Iran sanctions.
Number: 46, the percentage of Americans who believe that the US has achieved its goals in Iraq.
To Read: Gil Troy writes about an ambitious new educational plan announced by the Jewish agency-
The Jewish Agency for Israel recently announced an ambitious $300 million Prime Minister’s Initiative to revolutionize Israel Education, Israel Experiences, Israel Engagement on College Campus and Aliyah of Young Adults. This initiative will fail if it repackages old, tired programs and ignores the lessons learned from successful initiatives like Birthright and Masa. Heavy-handed propagandizing -- training for “Israel Advocacy” like a lifelong political marathon -- will not work. Thoughtful, authentic, open-minded, soul-stretching Zionist education toward Jewish identity building will.
Quote: "Israel will get six V-22s out of the next order to go on the assembly line, and they will be compatible with other [Israeli defense] capabilities", Chuck Hagel announcing the planned fast-track delivery of new military goods to Israel- at an ADL conference.
Number: 5, five Israeli soldiers were hurt and 4 Palestinians were killed in clashes in Gaza.
The Middle East
To Read: David Ignatius believes that the much touted 'new US policy' in the Middle East still needs some work-
The new Middle East strategy is Rice's first big initiative as national security adviser. Conceptually, it marks her as a "realist" who wants to help the president make clear decisions in a world where the limits of U.S. power are obvious. Conceptually, it makes sense. By cautioning that the U.S. can't solve every problem, Obama is rejecting the region's "contradictory standard," as Rhodes puts it. "People want us to resolve all conflicts, and they also oppose our intervention. It's our fault, no matter what happens."
But foreign policy is about the execution of ideas as much as their formulation. And here, Rice's touch has been less sure, especially in messaging with allies. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah shouldn't be surprised by U.S. policy on Syria -- but neither should German Chancellor Angela Merkel when it comes to NSA surveillance.
Quote: “Education is looked at from a security point of view. The state does not want children to be released from the grip of the ruling authority... It does not want the children to have critical thinking, analysis or thought”, Egyptian education expert Kamal Mughith commenting on the dismal state of the country's education system
Number: 200,000, the number of Syrian Kurdish refugees who have moved into Iraqi Kurdistan
The Jewish World
To Read: A new book by celebrated historian Simon Schama stresses the exceptional importance of language and words in the story of the Jewish people (review by Nicholas De Lange)-
The Passover liturgy, which Simon Schama is fond of referring to, proclaims: "In every generation they have risen against us to annihilate us, but God always rescues us from their power." For the secular historian this pious generalisation is too simplistic, but it still nurtures a grain of self-evident truth. "What the Jews have lived through, and somehow survived to tell the tale, has been the most intense version known to human history of adversities endured by other peoples as well; of a culture perennially resisting its annihilation, of remaking homes and habitats, writing the prose and the poetry of life, through a succession of uprootings and assaults." God takes a back seat now: the people itself, in its historical setting, is at the wheel. But the essential story is still the same, a story of survival against the odds, of memory, and above all of words, "the prose and poetry of life".
Quote: “I am Jewish and a fan of laughing at one’s culture”, Shed Simove, a Jewish comic from the United Kingdom who is facing some legal trouble after marketing a Rabbi shaped vibrator called 'the rampant Rabbi'.
Number: 26%, the JPost chose to emphasize another aspect of the ADL poll- that 26% of Americans believe that the Jews killed Jesus.