Rabbi David Hartman
Headline: Panetta fighting to the end against proposed defense spending cuts
To Read: A WSJ editorial suggests that the Obama administration should start reading Khamenei's refusals to negotiate at face level:
Why does the Ayatollah keep saying no? The conventional wisdom is that previous U.S. offers weren't generous enough, or that the wrong President was in the White House, or that Iran wants only to deal directly with the U.S. and not in multilateral forums. Each of these theories has been tested and shown to be false.
A more persuasive explanation—get ready for this shocker—is that Iran really wants a bomb. The regime believes, not unreasonably, that Moammar Gadhafi would still be in power had he not given up his nuclear program in 2003. Mr. Khamenei also fears a "velvet revolution" scenario, in which more normal ties with the West threaten the ideological foundations of the Islamic Republic. Confrontation with America is in this regime's DNA.
Quote: "Barack Obama does not want to be the American president on whose watch Iran acquires a nuclear weapon or be accused of presiding over the demise of what’s left of the two-state solution", Aaron David Miller, advisor to six US secretaries of state, about the president's priorities.
Number: 6, the number of minutes Obama spent on foreign policy in his last 65 minute- State of the Union speech.
Headline: PM names main topics for Obama visit
To Read: Our Israel factor panelist Alon Pinkas has justifiably low expectations of the Obama visit:
The idea that the process can be reignited with declarations and perhaps a three-way summit in Washington is ludicrous. Moreover, Obama is not coming with an original plan of his own to bridge the gaps. Rather, he is, at best, going to present a package of "trust-building measures." Therefore, the visit is an important one, but not in relation to the "peace process," which will remain frozen until a new, paradigm-breaking way of thinking emerges.
Quote: "He spent much of the election campaign saying 'follow the money' – so he should do just that. The 'money' is at the Finance Ministry, not the Foreign Ministry", Avigdor Lieberman trying to keep Lapid away from the Foreign portfolio.
Number: 19, the surprisingly low percentage of votes Netanyahu's Likud-Beiteinu received in the settlements.
The Middle East
Headline: Syrian regime ‘ready’ for unconditional dialogue with opposition
To Read: Jonathan Tobin believes that the worrying ties between Morsi's Egypt and the Hamas should make the US rethink its military support for Egypt:
The Hamas connection should send a chill down the spines of anyone who still held onto hope that the Arab Spring would produce more, rather than less, freedom for Egypt. But it should also remind Americans that they are still sending more than $1 billion a year in U.S. aid and selling F-16 aircraft to Morsi’s Egypt. Members of Congress who continue to back this foolish policy need to ask themselves whether it makes sense to funnel taxpayer dollars to Egypt in the hope of supporting regional stability if what they are really doing is bolstering a government that depends on Hamas terrorists to stay in power.
Quote: "When you speak of dialogue, it means dialogue without conditions, which excludes no one. But if someone comes to me and says 'I want to talk about this issue or I'll kill you', that's not a dialogue", Syrian information minister, Omran al-Zoubi, about the prospects of negotiations.
Number: 10,000, the amount of Euros Yasser Arafat's widow receives every month from the financially ailing Palestinian Authority.
The Jewish World
Headline: David Hartman, founder of the Shalom Hartman Institute, dies at 82
To Read: Rabbi Jason Miller contends that Rabbis should and inevitably will become more entrepreneurial in order to supply future Americans with their much needed spiritual support:
I don't believe the rabbinate is in crisis, but I do believe that the most resourceful and entrepreneurial rabbis will be the ones to emerge successful in the Jewish world. Professional programs like Clal's Rabbis Without Borders fellowship have realized this and are helping guide rabbis in the new rabbinate. The rabbis who embrace rather than dismiss the new realities of Jewish life will be the ones to make positive contributions to their community in particular and to global Jewry in general. And those rabbis who don't dwell on the past ("the good ole days of the rabbinate"), but seek out modern innovations to guide their leadership and influence will be the most dynamic Jewish leaders of the future.
Quote: "In light of many cases in the past year in which policemen physically grabbed female worshippers and led them forcibly to the police station, I turn to you with an urgent request to order the Jerusalem Police commander to instruct the forces stationed in the Western Wall area to avoid physical contact between policemen and female worshippers", Anat Hoffman in a letter to the Israeli police commissioner.
Number: 200,000, the number of Jewish American kids with disabilities.