Gas mask used in Aleppo, photo by Reuters
Headline: U.S. senators push for military aid for Syrian rebels
To Read: Three top veteran diplomats claim that professional diplomacy in the US is being marginalized:
American diplomacy is facing a crisis. The professional career service that is intended to be the backbone of that diplomacy no longer claims a lead role at the State Department or in the formulation or implementation of foreign policy. The U.S. Foreign Service is being marginalized — just as military efforts to resolve major diplomatic challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed, and as diplomacy has become both more complex and more important to our national security and prosperity.
The Foreign Service is being relegated to a secondary status: staff support to political elites who set and manage policy. Long-held concepts about the disciplined, competitive, promotion-based personnel system are being called into question.
Quote: "Seeking to profit from the Syrian people’s suffering, Russia also continues to supply Assad and his military with weapons, communications equipment, and cash. They work around existing sanctions to continue their lucrative relationships. Russia must be held to account", Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Casey have some harsh words for Russia in their new plan for Syria.
Number: 140,000, the number of teargas canisters transferred from the US to Egypt's interior ministry.
Headline: Source: Israel will freeze settlement construction
To Read: Leading Turkish Journalist Semih Idiz writes about the Turkish Islamists' surprise and disappointment following Israel's apology to Turkey:
Turkey demanded a formal apology, compensation for the families of those killed, and a lifting of the Gaza blockade. Israel has said the first two conditions will be met. As for the blockade, most observers agree that while this still continues, routes for aid and other material into Gaza are open. But the intention of Islamists is not to “eat the grapes but to beat the keeper of the vineyard” to quote a Turkish saying.
In other words they want Israeli noses rubbed in the mud and were relying on Erdoğan to do this for them. But they forgot about “realpolitik.” Turkey is a country in a delicate part of the world where it has to consider the bigger picture. The Mavi Marmara activists, barring Sinan Albayrak, nevertheless say they are determined to stay on course.
Quote: "You want money from the State? Teaching the core subjects is the State's condition. If you don't go along I'm taking the money… While these are private institutions which cannot be told what to teach, there is no reason for me to fund them either. The State cannot fund something that goes against its interests", Israel's education minister, Shai Piron, declares war on Israel's Ultra-Orthodox schools.
Number: 23,085, the number of soldiers who have fallen since Israel was founded, according to the new ministry of Defense numbers.
The Middle East
Headline: West has evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria
To Read: According to FA editors, Binjamin Alter and Edward Fishman, the standoff between the US and Iran may very well be here for a while:
Not all international standoffs trend inevitably toward either harmony or war. In reality, stability is often located somewhere in between. Just think back to the Cold War, when the threat of nuclear apocalypse did more than anything else to prevent military confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. Despite the rhetoric of crisis, the impasse over the Iranian nuclear program may have reached a balance -- imperfect and fearful, to be sure -- but one that will prove resilient.
Quote: "Hamas’s inability or unwillingness to investigate the brazen murders of seven men makes a mockery of its claims that it’s upholding the rule of law in Gaza”, Sarah Lea Witson, ME Director of Human Rights Watch, criticizing Hamas.
Number: 314, the number of people executed in Iran in 2012, according to Amnesty's death penalty report.
The Jewish World
Headline: US Conservative, Reform leaders praise Kotel plan
To Read: A JPost editorial commends Sharansky for his "Solomonic solution" to the Western Wall dispute, but points out a problem:
It is a brilliantly Solomonic solution, which appears to have the tentative backing of all sides. The only potential problem is extremist Muslims, confronted with a new construction plan in the Temple Mount vicinity, will launch huge and potentially violent demonstrations.
Recall what happened when the exit from the Western Wall tunnels was opened onto the Muslim Quarter or when attempts were made to dismantle the Mughrabi Bridge. In an attempt to appease one group of religious fanatics (the ultra-Orthodox) we might end up angering another group (Muslims).
The lesson to be learned is that you can never appease all the fanatics all the time. The only hope for peace is the steadfast protection of the right to religious expression for all.
Quote: “Without doubt it is still possible to secure a measure of justice in the Nazi cases. In many countries, however, the political will to do so is not being mustered”, Eli Rosenbaum, the US Justice Department’s director of human rights enforcement, strategy and policy, about prosecuting Nazis.
Number: 1,300, the number of unfenced Jewish cemeteries in Poland which are on the verge of turning into trash heaps.