Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad greets his Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Morsi in Tehran, August 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
To Read: As Barack Obama prepares for his second inauguration, Wil Haygood of the Washington Post looks at the similarities between the first black president and Martin Luther King.
In [Jesse] Jackson’s mind, the lives of King and Obama are inextricably linked. “King broke down the walls, and Barack ran across the bridge. The rocks from the broken walls created that bridge.” Jackson is quick to point out that King’s reverential place in the America mindset was not always so. “King died the most hated man in America,” he said. “He had scars from being in jail, from being called unpatriotic. He was scarred. We were all scarred.”
Quote: "I don't think she wants to run. But I think after taking a break, after doing something else, I think that could change. You never say never." A former Clinton aide discusses the outgoing secretary of state's future plans
Number: 4 The number of European countries Leon Panetta will visit on his final international trip as Defense Secretary
To Read: Barak's Last Battle
Jonathan Tepperman of Foreign Affairs traces Ehud Barak's fall from grace, from his days as a legendary IDF chief to his short-lived stint as PM to today, as a roundly disliked politician who fled his own party.
Ask any American or Israeli analyst with firsthand experience how to make sense of Barak's serpentine career, his successes and failures, and his unpopularity, and you'll hear the same thing again and again: that Barak is the ultimate strategic thinker. An inveterate risk taker -- one former army commander of Barak's told me that as a soldier, the young commando devised schemes that often had him facing tzalash or tarash (commendation or demotion) -- Barak still sees the world as a battlefield or a chessboard. This means that he always thinks several steps ahead. But it also means that he must make countless predictions about how other players will respond, and he then assumes that by force of will, he can ensure that they act accordingly.
Quote: “There are lots of people out there who still don’t know what to make of us” Racheli Ganot, the ultra-Orthodox owner of a semiconductor development company in Bnei Brak, talks about the growing presence of Haredi women in Israeli high-tech
Number: 198 The amount of new homes Israel has announced it will build in the West Bank
The Middle East
Tehran's efforts to rebuild ties with Cairo suit the Egyptian president, writes Mustafa al-Labbad for As-Safir (translated by Al-Monitor).
During his visit to Tehran, Morsi deliberately let the opportunity to improve Egyptian-Iranian relations slip away. The visit seemed to suggest a wider margin of leverage for Egypt in the region — without a return of ties — and offering the refusal to restore ties as a gift to Salafist currents in Egypt and Gulf Arab countries, which opposed the visit and consequently, oppose to improve relations with Iran. In other words, the Egyptian administration wanted to use the Iran card to improve its regional status, through a careful convergence that ended in a detente with Iran, which seeks to upgrade its ties with Egypt.
Quote: "No solution to the crisis except by the halt of violence through dialogue, national understanding, democracy and elections" Iranian President Ahmadinejad voices his thoughts on the Syria conflict at a meeting with Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi
Number: 15 The death toll in a suicide bombing in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, apparently targeting an office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party
The Jewish World
Rukhl Schaechter of the Forward talks to Tuvia Tenenbom, whose travels in Germany revealed a nation in which anti-Semitism is still rife.
…as he engaged people in conversation, he discovered two distinct qualities about the Germans: First, that they drink an excessive amount of beer, and second, that many of them harbored disturbingly negative views about Jews and Israel. As the owner of an elegant hotel and restaurant in Wannsee, Germany, remarked: “Everybody knows that the Jews control the American economy.”
Quote: “I imagine what Hitler’s life must be like. I wonder what he eats for breakfast in the morning. I see his shadow at the window. He hates us. He hates me, without even knowing that I exist.” Edgar Feuchtwanger recalls his childhood as a German Jewish child who watched his neighbor Adolf Hitler's rise to power
Number: $10 million Hadassah's low-key donation to its cash-strapped namesake hospital in Jerusalem