The Amenas gas field in Algeria (Photo:Reuters)
Headline: Rescue Raid Turns Deadly
To Read: Robert Satloff believes that the Hagel nomination raises serious doubts about Obama's willingness to act on Iran.
In this context, the looming fight over Hagel’s confirmation has obscured the strategic repercussion of the nomination. That Obama chose a Pentagon nominee whose public record differs from his own on this critical issue says more about the president than it does about the nominee. Quite apart from the internal U.S. debate over Hagel’s worthiness to run the Defense Department, foreign leaders will have serious questions about the credibility of the president’s commitment to prevention. None is likely to talk openly about it; they will simply adjust their expectations accordingly.
Quote: "Our biggest concern was the intelligence we received -- that they were, in fact, putting together these ingredients into shells that could then be deployed against their own people", Defense Secretary Panetta discusses the possibility of Syria using chemical weapons.
Number: 6, the percentage of Americans who think Obama ought to focus on foreign policy in his second term.
Headline: Netanyahu to ‘Post’: I won’t uproot masses of Jews
To Read: Lee Smith challenges the assumption that Israelis are becoming more right wing:
The issue then is not that Israel has moved to the extreme right—it has broadly come to accept one of the longtime tenets of American Middle East policy insofar as it recognizes the desirability of a two-state solution—but that Israelis and Americans view the conflict in fundamentally different ways. For American policymakers and many pundits, it’s as if the Oslo Accords never failed and the Second Intifada never happened. For Israeli voters who have lived through suicide bombings and rocket fire from Gaza and southern Lebanon, next week’s elections are about a sovereign electorate that prizes its prosperity and security.
Quote: “You might think I’m a tough guy in my films, but in a rough neighborhood like the Middle East, Israel has its own tough guy, his name is Bibi Netanyahu.” Chuck Norris helps Netanyahu gain some much needed street-credibility.
Number: 15%, the percentage of undecided voters three days before the Israeli elections, according to the most recent polls.
The Middle East
Headline: Jordan says it won't accept mass influx of Syrian refugees
To Read: Jordan's upcoming elections are unlikely to alleviate the political pressure facing its King, according to the Economist.
However malleable the new parliament, the king will require it to push through some biting austerity measures demanded by the IMF as the price for bailing out Jordan’s debt-saddled economy. A fairer election would have helped. When the king cut fuel subsidies in November, the Islamists fanned protests by the urban poor resentful of soaring costs. Three people were killed. But now the IMF wants Abdullah to cut soaring electricity subsidies, too. And the IMF wants him to slash the public-sector perks and jobs he showered on East Bankers, nowadays almost as disgruntled as the Palestinians. Whatever the results of the election, the king will still be in a bind.
Quote: "A perfect storm", British foreign secretary William Hague's prediction for 2013 in the Middle East.
Number: $100m, the amount of money Saudia Arabia has decided to grant the struggling Palestinian authority in order to help alleviate its budget crisis.
The Jewish World
Headline: Jewish Population Is Up in the New York Region
To Read: Jonathan Freedland analyzes some misconceptions which American Jews have about Jewish life and Anti-Semitism in Europe.
Above all, those stubbornly committed to the view of twenty-first century Europe as one large Auschwitz-in-waiting have a one-eyed view of Jewish life on this side of the Atlantic. They rightly report the chilling news of an apparent ban on religious circumcision in Germany or the move to outlaw shechita, the ritual slaughter required to produce kosher meat, in Poland—but fail to report when those decisions, initially taken at a lower level, are swiftly overturned.
Quote: “Israel is today the best country able to offer culture, sociality, democracy, morality; a country where people adopted a lifestyle simple and natural,”, Jewish Italian PM Fiamma Nirenstein , explaining her decision to make aliyah.
Number: 24, the percentage of Jews among the residents of Brooklyn, according to the recent UJA poll.