The EU's Iran Negotiations Rep. Catherine Ashton, Reuters
Headline: Kerry making a quick return visit to the Middle East
To Read: James Joyner hopes that US civilian leadership will follow the principles of prudence and sound judgment it demands from its military officers:
Does it really protect national security to spend $8.4 billion in the next fiscal year on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the way-behind-schedule, way-over-cost next-generation fighter that's designed to combat an enemy capability that doesn't exist? That, despite its delays, can't perform the mission for which it was designed? When the F-16s and F-18s it's slated to replace are radically cheaper and remain dominant? Is that really in America's strategic interests, political or economic? Or does it have more to do with the enormous "political protection" baked into the program, with 133,000 jobs spread across 1300 suppliers in 45 states, ensuring virtually no member of Congress is anxious to cut funding?
Quote: "There was no breakthrough but also no breakdown… Our exchanges were more natural and free-flowing than they had been in the past talks”, an unnamed US official reporting about the nuclear talks in Almaty.
Number: 55, the percentage of Republicans who would like Christianity to be their state religion.
Headline: Jerusalem won’t hand Kerry list of concessions
To Read: Yoram Ettinger believes that the assumption that Jews are soon to be a minority west of the Jordan river is mistaken:
In defiance of demographic projections, Israel's Jewish fertility rate of three births per woman is higher than any Arab country's other than Yemen, Iraq and Jordan. The modernity-driven downward trend of Muslim demography is highlighted by Iran's fertility rate of 1.8 births per woman, Saudi Arabia's 2.3 and Syria's and Egypt's 2.9. The Westernization of the Muslim fertility rate was triggered by the unprecedented expansion of education among women, urbanization and family planning. The surge of Israel's Jewish fertility rate was triggered by high levels of optimism, patriotism, collective responsibility, the stable economy and attachment to roots.
In contrast with conventional wisdom, Israel's Jewish-Arab fertility gap has been reduced from six births in 1969 to half a birth in 2012. Moreover, the fertility rates of Jewish and Arab women in their 20s and 30s — in Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel — has converged at three births per woman, with the Jewish rate trending above — and the Arab rate trending below — three births. Furthermore, the fertility rate of Israeli-born Jewish women is already above three births per woman.
Quote: "The Holocaust is a lot more than today's adolescents can take. They simply don't want to hear”, Shlomo Ronen, Holocaust survivor, about Israeli youth’s lack of interest in his story.
Number: 50m NIS, the amount of money PM Netanyahu transferred to Holocaust survivors today in honor of Holocaust memorial day.
The Middle East
Headline: Diplomats see ‘wide gulf’ as Iran talks end in a muddle
To Read: Experienced American aviator Scott Cooper writes about the great benefits of establishing a no fly zone of Syria:
A no-fly zone will not immediately end the conflict, but neutralizing the Syrian air force will erase one of the regime’s decisive advantages and lead to a major turning point in the conflict. Doing so is not only morally right but also in our strategic interest. The spillover of violence into Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq is already happening. Moreover, in a post-Assad Syria, the opposition will not forget which nations came to its aid. That was the case in Bosnia and Kosovo, and it has been the case throughout the Muslim world during the recent government upheavals. It was also the case in Iraq, until the occupation spiraled downward into a chaotic insurgency that we initially failed to grasp.
A no-fly zone will provide more options in working with the commander of the Free Syrian Army, Gen. Salim Idriss. With established “safe zones,” Syrian rebels could be trained inside Syria. It will open the door for building governance in liberated areas.
Quote: “The Palestinian leadership took the decision to postpone its plan to go to the international court in order to give a last chance to halt Israeli plans to build in area E1 [between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim]”, PLO Executive Committee member Hana Amireh, confirming the Palestinian decision postpone prosecuting Israel at the ICC.
Number: 9, the number of children killed in an Aleppo airstrike during the weekend.
The Jewish World
Headline: Germany to investigate 50 Auschwitz guards
To Read: On the eve of Holocaust memorial day, Rafael Medoff discusses FDR’s disturbing attitude towards the Jews:
Every president's policy decisions are shaped by a variety of factors, some political, some personal. In Roosevelt's case, a pattern of private remarks about Jews, some of which I recently discovered at the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem and from other sources, may be significant.
In 1923, as a member of the Harvard board of directors, Roosevelt decided there were too many Jewish students at the college and helped institute a quota to limit the number admitted. In 1938, he privately suggested that Jews in Poland were dominating the economy and were therefore to blame for provoking anti-Semitism there. In 1941, he remarked at a Cabinet meeting that there were too many Jews among federal employees in Oregon. In 1943, he told government officials in Allied-liberated North Africa that the number of local Jews in various professions "should be definitely limited" so as to "eliminate the specific and understandable complaints which the Germans bore towards the Jews in Germany."
Quote: “It’s not just dealing with the immediate challenge, but as we do in Jewish life, we try and prepare for the next situation, how to deal with these things on a regular basis, so they’re prepared for it. The best security preparation in the Jewish world is vigilance without panic” Steve Hoffman, the co-chairman of the Secure Community Network, a security force helping Jews protect themselves across the US.
Number: 1.8m, the number of Holocaust victim names still unknown to Yad Vashem.