To Read: Ray Takeyh points out that Iran has always been an issue about which there was bipartisan agreement in the US and he believes that it should continue being so-
The White House might be tempted to fire back at its critics, but it would be a mistake to deride skeptical members of Congress as “marching to war” with Iran. The most realistic alternative to diplomatic stalemate or a bad deal is not war but a more concerted pressure strategy that may yet compel further concessions from a battered Islamic Republic. Republicans, in turn, should desist from cheap comparisons of President Barack Obama to Neville Chamberlain. This is not the 1930s, and Iran is not Nazi Germany.
Quote: “If you want to hold our feet to the fire on the final deal, fine, do that. If people have concerns about elements of a final agreement, come in and tell us. . . . But that is a separate discussion from passing a sanctions bill in the middle of negotiations”, a senior Obama administration official commenting on the WH's continuing efforts to stop new sanctions.
Number: 60, Congress has enacted fewer than 60 public laws this year, making some people label the first session of the 113th Congress as the least productive one in history.
To Read: Shany Mor criticizes Peter Beinart's criticism of US Jewry's intellectual 'cocoon' when it comes to Israel and Palestine-
Between the lamentable phenomenon he observes of a lack of dialogue and the conclusion that it is because American Jews live in an intellectual cocoon, there are several steps which need to be logically filled. If a Jewish organization had cancelled the appearance of a Palestinian speaker, if Jewish groups heckled Arab artists at cultural events or threatened to boycott joint events, he might have a case. If Israeli leaders or other Zionists were being invited to speak at pro-Palestinian events, he might have a case. If he could, despite a furiously overheated search engine, find one example of Jews “actively mocking the suffering” of the Palestinians, he might have a case. If he could find partisans of any other conflict in American political life who have a more open, more self-critical internal discourse, then at least we could have a baseline for discussion.
Quote: "We understand that the future of our country and of our shared civilization depends on the survival and the thriving of that free and democratic homeland of the Jewish people in the Middle East”, Canada's PM Stephen Harper making grand dramatic statements about Israel.
Number: 95, the percentage of Kibbutz youths who enlist in the IDF.
The Middle East
To Read: Has Hamas taken a pragmatist turn? In another curious TNR piece, Aaron Magid writes about the surprising calmness at the Israel-Gaza border -
Across the Middle East, tension is rising as violence spreads in Damascus, Beirut, and Cairo. Yet one area has remained surprisingly calm: the Israeli-Gaza border. Perhaps that's why many have overlooked a promising development: Hamas has apparently decided—at least for now—that it has more to lose than gain from violence.
Quote: “We believe that Iran and Saudi Arabia should work together in order to promote peace and stability in the region”, Iran's foreign minister Zarif commenting on the Saudi anger about the recent nuclear deal between Iran and the west.
Number: 57, the number of people killed in a 2-day assault by Syrian army helicopters on the rebel-held town of al-Bab .
The Jewish World
Headline: Netanyahu meets with pope in Vatican
To Read: Malka Simkovich examines the re-branding of Hanukkah and the origins of the 'oil lasting for 8 days' myth-
Returning to this article’s original question, what lies at the essence of the holiday of Chanuka? From a historical vantage point, there is no doubt that the origin of the holiday lies in the Hasmonean military victory. However, the rabbis effectively rebranded the holiday so that instead of glorifying Hasmonean military prowess, the holiday instead glorifies the unconditional and miraculous divine light that Jews can depend on, even in the gloomiest of darkness.
Quote: "Let me tell you something about George Bush and oil money, and Obama and no money. People want to say Obama can't make these moves, or he's not executing. That's because he ain't got those connections. Black people don't have the same level of connections as Jewish people. Black people don't have the same connections as oil people. You know we don't know nobody that got a nice house. You know we don't know nobody with paper like that, that we can go to when we're down", hip-hop giant Kanye West defending his President.
Number: $3m, the amount of money it cost to restore the much talked about Jewish Iraqi collection of historic artifacts which were found in Saddam's headquarters and which might soon be sent back to Iraq.