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Sunday Reads: Thousands of Africans March in TA, Behind Obama’s Syrian Failure & Bibi’s Big Demand

by Shmuel Rosner

January 5, 2014 | 4:14 am

African migrants stand in line to receive food at
Levinsky park in south Tel Aviv, Photo by Reuters

The US

Headline: Kerry Opens Door to Iran’s Participation in Syrian Peace Talks

Read: Michael Weiss writes an interesting piece on the absurdities of Obama's failing Syria policy-

In effect, the United States is encouraging the regime to defeat the rebels along the delivery route whether they are the U.S.-backed FSA, the Saudi-backed Islamic Front or the al Qaeda affiliates Nusra or ISIS. Then, once defeated, Washington will condemn the way the regime goes about its business, which inevitably involves dropping incendiary bombs from warplanes and helicopters and massacring scores of civilians, many of them women and children. So much for Ban Ki-moon’s denial of a “license to kill” or Kerry’s pronouncement that the “worst weapon of war” can be defused “peacefully.” And the State Department wonders why the Islamic Front won’t even turn up for a meeting.

Quote: "The path is becoming clearer. The puzzle is becoming more defined. And it is becoming much more apparent to everybody what the remaining tough choices are", Kerry commenting on the progress of his recent peace-process efforts.

Number: 48, the percentage of Republicans who don't believe in evolution at all (this number is actually growing).

 

Israel

Headline:  Thousands of refugees flood Tel Aviv square in mass protest

To Read: Bernard Avishai explains why he thinks Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish State is problematic-

We are not now talking about a state that recognizes the Passover holiday or provides refuge for victims of anti-Semitic persecution (as the U.S. and many other Western democracies do, by the way). In Israel, having J-positive blood is a serious material advantage… Such a state must be anathema to Palestinian leaders, who cannot but notice that a fifth (soon, a quarter) of Israeli citizens are Palestinian in origin, and thus are materially, legally disadvantaged by birth: they can recognize Israel but cannot possibly accept this state. But then, it is anathema also to Israeli Jews with ordinary democratic instincts, irrespective of how Palestinians feel about it.

Quote: “I have no problem with the political demand that the Jordan Valley should be part of the State of Israel. That position is permitted. What bothers me is that it is being presented as some sort of security problem”, former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan arguing that maintaining control over the Jordan Valley is not a security necessity.  

Number: 26, here is a list of the next 26 prisoners to be released by the Israeli government.

 

The Middle East

Headline: Rebels battle al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters across northern Syria

To Read: Eliot Abrams doesn't like the Obama administration's over-cautious attitude toward everything Iran is doing in the Middle-East just because of the nuclear negotiations-

 For a couple of years after the protests began in Bahrain, Iran limited itself to broadcasting nasty material in Arabic, and did not try to subvert the country. U.S. officials repeatedly told me we simply had no evidence of armed subversion. Well, now we do. What will the American reaction be? Nothing– you see, this is a delicate moment and we don’t want to upset the nuclear talks. One can only imagine the satisfied laughter such a position causes in Tehran. And the fear it engenders in capitals like Manama, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi.

Quote: “I think we are witnessing a turning point, and it could be one of the worst in all our history. The West is not there, and we are in the hands of two regional powers, the Saudis and Iranians, each of which is fanatical in its own way. I don’t see how they can reach any entente, any rational solution”, Elias Khoury, a Lebanese novelist and critic who lived through his own country’s 15-year civil war, describing what it's like living in a post-America middle east.

Number: 17, at least 17 people were killed in Egypt on Friday, after clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood supporters and the government got violent.  

 

The Jewish World

Headline: Chief Rabbinate says Orthodox rabbis abroad appointed ‘without any criteria’

To Read: Rabbi Gideon Rothstein takes a look at the age old balancing act between scientific minded insight and Jewish faith-

Rationalist Judaism, in other words, balances a reliance on human insight with a bedrock faith; the question isn’t which to accept, it’s where each apply, where we fall in with the reason of our times and where we recognize that faith requires us to act counter-culturally, to oppose what all those around us see as right and good, even the only plausible way to act or believe.

The challenge is particularly acute when the morality of the society around us diverges from our own, and we have to decide whether that society has discovered a new moral truth or has gone astray, requiring us, like our forefather Avraham, to stand in opposition to them. How do we know which is which?

Quote:  “What was saving us [the refuseniks] in the Soviet Union? It was the fact that all these important American people were supporting us in every speech. They knew our names”, Nathan Sharansky criticizing the west's (Obama's, really) lack of support for democratic minded dissidents.

Number: 10 the number of years for which Sarah Gorovitz served as the San Francisco Federation Chief.

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