Headline: The 113th Congress is the most diverse in history
To Read: Obama's Next Foreign Policy Battle
Joe Klein of Time believes that the battle over Hagel's nomination as defense secretary is actually about Obama policy on Israel and Iran.
It began, as such things often do, with an editorial by William Kristol in the Weekly Standard. He accused Hagel of being "anti-Israel" and "pro-appeasement" of Iran. The appeasement evidence centers on this Hagel quote: "A military strike against Iran ... is not a viable, feasible, responsible option." The stated position of the Obama Administration is that all options are on the table. But the unstated position of almost everybody who has looked at this problem, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff and much of Israel's defense and intelligence apparatus, is that military action against Iran is a fool's errand.
Quote: There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner New Jersey's Republican governor Chris Christie lashes out at his own party for pulling a bill on aid to Hurricane Sandy victims
Number: 20 The number of candidates in our newest cycle of the Israel Factor
Headline: 'Post' poll: Likud-Beytenu hits new low of 32 seats
To Read: How the parties you’ve never heard of – and probably never will – could decide the elections
A vote for a smaller party which may not even pass the threshhold is a vote lost from a larger party that could make a difference, writes Anshel Pfeffer in Haaretz.
When a small party manages to scrape through, it takes at least two seats away from the others but even if it fails, it can still affect the distribution of the votes across the political spectrum. Therefore, the fate of the small parties could have a major influence on the ability of either of the blocs to form a coalition or, similarly, prevent their rivals from doing so. In the 1992 elections, ultra-right wing Tehiya failed to cross the threshold and as a result, the left bloc secured a "blocking bloc" of 61 MKs, sanctioning Yitzhak Rabin's premiership. If the Tehiya supporters had known their votes would be wasted, they would have almost certainly voted for another right-wing party, if only to deprive Rabin of his majority.
Quote: You have some sort of expectation that the President will immediately support everything Israel does, but you forget that the US is a very big country that does business and has relations with all the countries of the world, not just Israel. Obama's former personal aide Reggie Love, on a visit to Israel
Number: 3,000 The number of ultra-Orthodox men who received their call-up papers for military service
The Middle East
Headline: Hezbollah Leader Urges Lebanon to Aid in a Solution for Syria
To Read: How Turkey, Russia Benefit From Iran Sanctions
The American sanctions policy over Iran's nuclear ambitions has put the U.S. in a bind when it comes to Turkey's relationship with Russia, writes Denis Natali in Al Monitor
Erdoğan is asserting Turkish foreign-policy independence and challenging US regional interests in another way. To further fill the Iranian energy-import gap and meet increased winter energy demands, Ankara has turned to Russia, despite political differences over Syria and Western aims to diversify regional energy imports away from the Russian gas monopoly. Moscow also has recently offered to supply Turkey with an additional 3 billion cubic meters of gas exports if needed, as well as other spot-market energy sales.
Quote: At this critical juncture when the country is subject to threats and sanctions by the enemies of the revolution, conflict and argument will not resolve any problem, and we hope that all those in the system who have influence, from ordinary people to higher levels, pave the way for the conduct of a competitive and free election according to the law through accepting to negotiate, interaction, and understanding Iran's Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Number: €50m The amount Muammar Gadhafi gave former French president Nicolas Sarkozy in illegal campaign contributions, according to Lebanese-born arms dealer Ziad Takieddine
The Jewish World
Headline: Top Lawyer Takes Yeshiva Abuse Case
To Read: Aboard the Asperger’s bus, a quirky ‘mishpocha’
Jessica Steinberg of the Times of Israel meets a Birthright group thrilled to be seeing Israel with people 'just like themselves.'
Gathering together a sizable group of young people with Asperger Syndrome was one of the ideas of the trip, said group leader Howard Blas, who has run similar Birthright trips in the past. Despite the high-functioning level of many of the Asperger’s participants, they often feel socially bereft back in their home settings; this was one place where they could experience a particular social bond.
Quote: I was driving home from work and pulling out my hair trying to figure out how I was going to get all the demolition work done. And then a sign from God drove by me — a large van pulling a trailer that had a Jewish star. I pulled beside it and the trailer had the words ‘Nechama: Jewish Response to Disaster’ and a phone number Long Island resident Evan Marrow on a Jewish group's relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy
Number: 1,000 years The age of documents written by the Jewish community in Afghanistan that have just been unveiled in Jerusalem