To Read: According to Ray Takeyh, the US has the upper-hand in the negotiations with Iran-
During the past decade, two U.S. administrations have confounded their critics by crafting a formidable sanctions architecture and adroitly managing an unruly alliance system. It is important to have a proper estimation of the Islamic Republic — a second-rate power with a third-rate nuclear program. Khamenei presides over a government that is despised by its constituents and distrusted by its neighbors. U.S. sanctions policy has offered its diplomats indispensable leverage. Washington is in a position to demand the most stringent of nuclear accords and should pay scant attention to Iran’s oft-proclaimed red lines. An agreement that not only buys time but also prevents Iran from permanently reconstituting its nuclear weapons ambitions is within grasp. With patience and firmness, a great diplomatic victory can still be claimed.
Quote: “This is the lowest readiness level I’ve seen within our army since I’ve been serving for the last 37 years. I believe our challenge is much greater today than it has been since I’ve been in the Army”, General Ray Odierno, the US Army chief of staff, issuing a warning at a Senate hearing.
Number: $1 trillion, the size of the defense cuts projected in the next decade.
To Read: Adam Milstein explains why the special needs of the Israeli-American community need to be heeded to-
Our identity was defining itself as Israeli-Americans, or Americans of Israeli descent. In early 2012 the ILC changed its name to the Israeli-American Council, the “IAC”. Once we changed our name and established ourselves as an American organization, both the Jewish-American community and the State of Israel realized our potential and began to see us as their strategic asset.
In the past 30 years, the population of Israeli-Americans reached an estimated 500,000-800,000. The majority of them do not affiliate with Jewish life or play a role in the active pro-Israel community. Due to the fact they are mostly secular, they experience the same high rate of assimilation as the Jewish community in America.
Quote: "Israel is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and the security of its people", Netanyahu's words on the possible deal between Iran and the west.
Number: 9, the motivation to serve in combat units among IDF recruits has dropped by 9 percentage points since 2010- from 79% to 70%.
The Middle East
To Read: Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol takes a look at the traditional Muslim headscarf as a symbol of freedom in Turkey, and at how Erdogan has changed that-
Ironically, however, Erdogan, who set the headscarf free, is creating new symbols of freedom these days. Because, like his secularist predecessors who wanted to save society from "dogma," he seems willing to save society from "immorality." His recent outburst against student houses "where girls and boys mingle," and his promise to have them monitored by the police, created a huge controversy and led to the Twitter campaign, "Kizli erkekli ders calisiyoruz" ("We are studying mixed as girls and boys"). Similarly, one of Erdogan's senior party member's recent criticism of the "decolletage" of a TV host, which cost her her job, sparked a campaign to wear more decolletage. Erdogan's limitations on alcohol sales also resulted in similar reactions in the previous months.
I will not be too surprised, therefore, if the new freedom symbols in Turkey become revealing blouses, alcohol or "houses where boys and girls mingle" — which are now acts of defiance to the new state. I will just regret that the religious conservatives, who once used to call for "freedom," will prove to have learned no lessons from their own history.
Quote: "I do think that the Saudis believe that they have some understanding with Pakistan that, in extremis, they would have claim to acquire nuclear weapons from Pakistan", Gary Sathmore, President Barack Obama's former counter-proliferation advisor, commenting on the Saudi efforts to acquire a nuclear bomb from Pakistan.
Number: 94, the percentage of Iranians who believe in angels.
The Jewish World
To Read: Can a group of rigid pro-Israel conservatives do something about young liberal Jews' disengagement from Jewish life and from Israel? J.J Goldberg reports from a summit in Jerusalem-
For anyone familiar with the Pew survey, it was hard not to notice the contrast between the crisis of identity that the summit was supposed to address and the forces convened to tackle the job. On one hand, an emerging generation of young Jews who are overwhelmingly uninterested in traditional forms of Jewish organization, strikingly more liberal than their predecessors, disengaged from Israel and suspicious of its policies and actions.
On the other hand, a task force led by the world’s largest and arguably most hidebound Jewish organization, the Jewish Agency, in partnership with the most conservative government in Israel’s history.
Quote: "As in America, it should be left to the general public – if they wish, in consultation with their local rabbis – to decide whether to accept or reject these conversions and wedding ceremonies", Rabbi Avi Weiss, one of several US orthodox Rabbis who are calling for reform in Israel's Rabbinate.
Number: 75, the week Germany marks the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht.