To Read: According to Walter Russell Mead, excessive public US vacillation about Syria sends a problematic message to the World-
Months of American dithering over Syria has convinced Iran that the US is a paper tiger. If we were going to go in at all, it would have been smarter to go early. Then, we would have had more ability to ensure that the least radical groups in the opposition were the best armed, best trained, and best positioned to lead the new Syria. Had the civil war ended earlier it would have perhaps been easier to pick up the pieces and avoid the revenge killings that are now much likelier to follow.
But let’s not sugarcoat the option. Intervention in Syria, however indirect, carries real risks. Colin Powell was wrong about WMD in Iraq, but he was right about the Pottery Barn rule: you break it, you bought it. President Obama’s instinctive desire to minimize American exposure to what is virtually certain to be a nasty post-Assad situation in Syria is rooted in serious and sensible concerns.
Quote: "Iran is a country with a government that was elected and that sits in the United Nations. And it is important for us to deal with nation-states in a way that acts in the best interests of all of us in the world", John Kerry yesterday in France.
Number: 32, the percentage of Americans who believe that the US is the world's leading economy.
To Read: Former Israeli Parliament member Einat Wilf believes that the world got the results of the Israeli elections wrong-
To be an Israeli who interacts with the world is to experience all too frequently the extent to which Israelis and their choices are misinterpreted and misperceived. Three weeks ago when Israelis went to the polls, Israel-watchers the world over wondered what the elections and their outcomes would mean for peace. Many expressed fear of an Israeli lunge to the right, and were relieved by what seemed to be a return to the center. Yet for most Israelis, this interpretation could not have been more wrong.
The Israeli elections were not about peace, and had very little to say on the matter. When the world was asking whether Israelis have swung to the right or the left or even the center, Israelis were thinking in very different terms. No longer right or left, but rather inward or outward — and their response was a resounding “inward.” To borrow the American term, Israelis have chosen to focus on “nation building at home.”
Quote: “I have been a Likud member for many many years, and I did not like the alliance with Liberman. I felt it a mistake for a democratic party like the Likud to merge with a party ruled by one individual, and I did not think it was appropriate. It was clear to me that we would lose many votes, and that is what happened”, Moshe Arens, former Defense Minister and long time Likud member, voicing his opinion on the Likud's union with Avigdor Liberman.
Number: 36 million, the number of people who used the Israeli Waze app- voted the top app at the World Mobile Congress- in 2012.
The Middle East
Read: Aaron David Miller questions the idea that Arab countries are capable of basic governance at this point in their evolution, let alone democracy:
In 1978, Fouad Ajami wrote a seminal article in Foreign Affairs titled "The End of Pan Arabism." Its conceit was that the particular interests and actions of key Arab states had long ago trumped the idealized rhetoric and aspirations of Arab unity.
Forty years on, it may be time to ponder another proposition: In the wake of the Arab Spring, we're witnessing the beginning of the end of another Arab illusion -- the functional and coherent Arab state.
Forget democracies. What's at stake here is basic coherence and governance.
Quote: "Neither the opposition nor the regime can finish each other off. The most dangerous thing in this process is that if the opposition is victorious, there will be a civil war in Lebanon, divisions in Jordan and a sectarian war in Iraq", Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki discussing the possible spillover effects of the Syrian conflict.
Number: 35.8, the percentage increase in Egypt's budget deficit between July to January.
The Jewish World
To Read: Isi Leibler is worried about the attitude towards Jews in Germany-
Chancellor Angela Merkel is a genuine friend of the Jews and despite intense political pressures and occasional minor vacillations has consistently supported Israel, describing its security as “part of my country’s raison d’être.” However, in recent years, as in other European countries, German public opinion has turned against Israel, perceiving it as the principal threat to global stability and peace. This hostility has increasingly assumed overt anti-Semitic tones.
There is growing resentment against Jews, who are blamed for imposing excessive emphasis on collective German national guilt for the Holocaust. Anti-Jewish hostility is often expressed in the more “politically respectable” demonization of the Jewish nation state, allegedly not related to anti-Semitism although the “Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe” (OSCE) explicitly defines such behavior as anti-Semitic. The German Left has accused Israel of war crimes, occupation and racism and also engages in inverse Holocaust imagery, enthusiastically condemning Israel for allegedly behaving toward the Palestinians as its Nazi forebears did to the Jews.
Quote: "Purim is to be celebrated with beautiful costumes of Esther and Mordechai, the heroes in that ancient battle. Then Dov Hikind goes and trivializes it by dressing up as a basketball player”, The Daily Show's 'Senior Purim Correspondent', Jessica Williams, mocking the Dov Hilkind affair.
Number: 69-10, the final vote against the boycott Israel motion at the Oxford Student's Union.