To Read: James Mann offers a profile piece on Obama's highly influential National Security advisor Thomas Donilon-
Over the past five years, Donilon has amassed enormous internal control over Obama's foreign policy -- indeed, ever more so now, with new secretaries of state and defense still learning their jobs. It is Donilon who, working directly with Obama throughout each day, helps the president decide whether to intervene in Syria, what to do about Chinese cyberhacking, and how to deal with Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programs.
Quote: "The U.S. delegation is very actively promoting this extremely unwholesome initiative", Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticizing the US' decision to promote a UN resolution condemning Human Rights violations in Syria.
Number: 34, the percentage of Americans who say they have had problems putting food on the table in the past 12 months.
To Read: US Gen. James Cartwright and Israeli Maj.Gen. Amos Yadlin try to imagine how an attack on Iran would look like-
Assessments of the day after an Israeli or U.S. strike range from limited Iranian retaliation that could be checked within days to full-scale regional war. If the United States attacked, however, it would have less moral authority than if Israel attacked -- Israel could legitimately claim that it was acting in self-defense. Moreover, Washington's ability to serve as an honest broker in negotiating a ceasefire would be diminished if it ordered the strike. For their part, China and Russia would be less incensed by an Israeli strike than a U.S. attack, and perhaps more willing to play a role in post-strike de-escalation.
Quote: "Despite direct appeals from representatives of the sport in Palestine and from anti-racist human rights campaigners across Europe, Uefa is rewarding Israel's cruel and lawless behaviour by granting it the honour of hosting the European Under-21 finals next month… Uefa should not allow Israel to use a prestigious football occasion to whitewash its racist denial of Palestinian rights and its illegal occupation of Palestinian land", an open letter (signed by Desmond Tutu, filmmaker Ken Loach and playwright Caryl Churchill) to the Guardian urging UEFA to cancel its Under-21 European soccer championships in Israe.l
Number: 3.4%, Israel's projected 2014 growth, according to the OECD.
The Middle East
To Read: According to The Guardian's Simon Jenkins, supporting the downfall of the secular leaders in the Middle East may have been the West's biggest miscalculation since the rise of fascism-
Assad has not fallen. He is still there, locked in the lethal Muslim schism that resurfaced with the demise of the region's secularist dictators. These have now almost all gone: the shah in Iran, Najibullah in Afghanistan, Saddam in Iraq, Mubarak in Egypt, Gaddafi in Libya. They had faults in abundance, but they succeeded in suppressing religious discord, instilling rudimentary tolerance and keeping the region mostly in order. This was in the west's interest, and the rulers, like those in the Gulf, were supported accordingly.
Turning turtle and abetting their downfall may yet prove the most disastrous miscalculation of western diplomacy since the rise of fascism. Prior to the Iraq war, Saddam persecuted the Shias, but their shrines were safe and intermarriage was common. After the war, Sunni and Shia are torn asunder, with a death toll of ghastly proportions. Similar agony may soon be visited on the Afghans. Libya's Tripoli is more unstable now the west has toppled Gaddafi, its fundamentalist guerrillas spreading mayhem south across the Sahara to Algeria, Mali and Nigeria.
Quote: "The Arab Peace Initiative is the lowest the Arabs have gone in terms of a historical settlement with Israel. The statements of the Arab ministerial delegation to Washington in regards to amending the 1967 borders and accepting the land-swap inflict great damage on the Arab stance and Palestinian rights, and stimulate the appetite of Israel for more concessions. No one is entitled to amend borders or swap land; the Palestinian people insist on Israel’s full withdrawal to the 1967 borders, in addition to removing the settlements", popular Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti in an interview for Al-Monitor.
Number: 80, the percentage of Lebanon's citizens who oppose the West sending arms to Syrian rebels.
The Jewish World
To Read: Yeshiva Student Ben Elton discusses the tension between modern Torah scholarship and traditional Jewish faith-
We have to stop pretending. We have to acknowledge that our traditional sources do not bring us closer in any real sense to modern biblical scholarship, although its observations may be useful in prompting our own thoughts, and that was certainly true of Mordecai Breuer (Menachem Leibtag’s teacher) who saw many perspectives in a unitary text. We can continue to delve into our own tradition, but in its own terms and not to try to find a way to reconcile with contemporary scholarship. If we want to continue as traditional Jews either in thought or deed then, in the words of Alexander Kohut, higher criticism of the Pentateuch is ‘noli me tangere – hands off!
Quote: “How else would one describe a play in which a greedy money dealer called Goldberg presses a family to invest their life savings in repugnant causes”, Richard Prasquier, former president of the CRIF, condemning a high profile anti-Semitic play staged at a French University of La Rochelle.
Number: 40$, the price charged for JC Penny's 'Hitler Kettle'.