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Sunday Reads: Tension at Israel-Lebanon Border, Erdogan Refuses to Resign, Theodor Herzl’s Insights

by Shmuel Rosner

December 29, 2013 | 5:32 am

An Israeli army Lieutenant-Colonel points as he
stands with a another soldier during a patrol along
Israel's border with Lebanon, Photo by Reuters

The US

Headline: A Deadly Mix in Benghazi

Read: Doyle McManus takes an honest look at the mistakes he made one year ago in his 2013 predictions-

By October, my "smarter Republican Party" had fallen back under the tea party's spell, blundering into a 16-day government shutdown and driving its standing in the polls to record lows.

And that skillful, seasoned president? His biggest legislative priorities — immigration reform and gun control — stalled. Even worse, he forgot to appoint a skilled manager to launch his most important domestic program, the Affordable Care Act, and failed to warn that his promise that everyone could keep their health insurance came with exceptions. Like Congress, Obama ended the year with some of his worst ratings ever.

(According to pieces by Jefferson Morley and Ross Douthat, McManus is definitely not alone)

Quote: “I suggest we don’t believe every media report. There’s no direct link between Pollard and the [peace] negotiations or the prisoner release. These are different issues” US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, denying reports about John Kerry making an offer to free Pollard.

Number: 2000, the number of Syrian refugees that will be offered refuge in the US, according to the State Department.

 

Israel

Headline: Rocket from Lebanon hit northern Israel; IDF responds with 'massive barrage'

To Read: Rivka Carmi, President of Ben-Gurion University, explains how a boycott on Israeli Universities could severely harm Palestinians as well-

There is no need to explain to the Israeli public how far-fetched the idea of boycotting Israeli academic institutions is, institutions where hundreds, if not thousands, of students and lecturers are Arabic speakers – including Jordanian students on Ben-Gurion University’s Sede Boqer campus studying towards postgraduate degrees in ecology and desert agriculture, solar energy, desalination and more. Their friends, who only last year completed undergraduate degrees in emergency medicine at BGU, are currently building emergency medical infrastructure in Jordan. Collaborative research projects with researchers in Jordan and the Palestinian Authority on issues as diverse as the study of genetic diseases, epidemiology and water resource management currently exist and also existed even during the most difficult periods for the benefit of all parties. The sick and wounded from the Palestinian Authority and even Syria receive life-saving treatments at medical centers in Israel.  

Quote: “We can’t keep on making this mistake. We have to give children the kind of future to which they are entitled”, President Peres responding to some harrowing statistics about child abuse in Israel.

Number: 1500, the number of non-Druze Arabs who currently serve in the IDF.

 

The Middle East

Headline: Turkey's Erdogan rejects calls to resign

To Read: Henri Barkey writes about the similarities between Turkey's Erdogan and Icarus, and considers the possible effect of his shenanigans on US-Turkey relations-

The U.S.-Turkish relationship has been severely damaged as confidence in an ally leader who accuses Washington for fomenting a coup against him has been zeroed. The United States will continue working with Turkey; it has no other choice as everyday Turkish and U.S. officials engage in hundreds if not thousands of transactions. They range from exchanges within the NATO alliance to Afghanistan to trade and other economic relations to conversations over Syria and the rest of the Middle East. These are not about to disappear -- but Erdogan's hubris has already done real harm to a once close partnership.

Quote: "The message also highlighted that stopping terrorism requires having the countries which are involved in supporting the armed terrorist groups stop providing any sort of military, logistic or training support, noting that this support was provided by some of Syria's neighbors and other known countries in the Middle East and abroad", Syria's State run News Chanel describing Bashar Assad's message to the Pope.

Number: $900m, the amount of money Iran loses every year due to Teheran's problems caused by Tehran's pollution and overcrowding, according to the World Bank.

 

The Jewish World

Headline: Israel to announce plan for attracting more French Jews

To Read: Jonathan Derbyshire conducts an interesting interview with Prof. Shlomo Avineri about his new book on Theodore Herzl and the origins of Zionism-

Zionism really grew up in central and western Europe, where the situation was basically positive. The view of many Jewish people at the time was that if there was Jew-hatred, it had to do with religious prejudices and that these would disappear with the advent of enlightenment, liberalism and democracy. What I try to argue in the second chapter of the book is that new issues were emerging, which had to do not with religious prejudices or theology, but precisely with the relative success of Jews. There were groups in European society which felt threatened, in the world of finance and also in the arts, sciences and so on. A lot of Jewish people thought this would simply disappear. There was a sort of deterministic liberalism which said, “We’re out of the dark ages, and while there may be some bumps in the road, basically we know where we’re going.” But Herzl had doubts about where things were leading.

Quote:  “We will act, with the government led by [Prime Minister] Jean-Marc Ayrault, to shake the tranquility which, under the cover of anonymity, facilitates shameful actions online. But also we will fight against the sarcasm of those who purport to be humorists but are actually professional anti-Semites”, French President Francois Hollande commenting on the rise of the new anti-semite salute in France.

Number: 12, A NYT editorial reviews Mayor Bloomberg's 12 years in office.

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