U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands
with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
at Villa Taverna in Rome October 23, 2013.
Headline: Criticism of United States’ Mideast Policy Increasingly Comes From Allies
To Read: Fouad Ajami believes that Obama's foreign policy has been quite consistent-
Lamentations about what has become of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East miss the point. The remarkable thing about President Obama's diplomacy in the region is that it has come full circle—to the very beginning of his presidency. The promised "opening" to Iran, the pass given to Bashar Assad's tyranny in Syria, the abdication of the American gains in Iraq and a reflexive unease with Israel—these were hallmarks of the new president's approach to foreign policy.
Quote: ““between close friends and partners ... there should be no such monitoring of the communication of a head of government. That would be a grave breach of trust", Angela Merkel's spokesperson reporting on the German Chancellor's awkward conversation with President Obama.
Number: 85, the (all time high) percentage of Americans who disapprove of how Congress is doing its job.
Headline: 'Kerry didn't persuade Netanyahu'
To Read: David Horowitz criticizes Jerusalem's pitiful display of apathy in the mayoral elections-
Lion — who has no remotely comparable experience to Barkat’s evident relative competence in running this most complex of cities; who did not live here until just months before the election; who revealed in interviews that he knew far too little about Jerusalem — telling Walla he was unaware that there are cinemas open in the capital on Shabbat, and telling The Times of Israel that he had no relationship whatsoever with any prominent Arab figures in the eastern part of the city; and who was being pushed by a partnership so nakedly dubious and alienating as the ultra-Orthodox schemer Deri and the secular populist Liberman — nevertheless garnered a staggering 45% of the vote to Barkat’s 51%. The gap between them, before soldiers’ votes and other final adjustments, was a mere 12,000 votes. A badly hamstrung challenger lost to an efficient, clean governor by 12,000 votes in a city of 800,000.
But scoff we should, nonetheless. Not at Lion, however. Rather, at the lazy, short-sighted ingrates of Jerusalem. According to the unofficial figures on Wednesday morning, turnout in the city was a pitiful 35.9%, and a mere 106,000 Jerusalemites managed to drag themselves to the polling stations to cast a ballot for Barkat.
Quote: "The debate has been a very serious debate. The prime minister is not bluffing. It is the main issue he cares about. He thinks that stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is the most important issue for the future of the State of Israel. And he hasn’t changed. On the contrary, if the talks fail, he will be much stronger when he approaches his government, his security cabinet", former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin talks about Iran in an interview with TNR's Ben Birenbaum.
Number: 60, the police arrested 3 haredi men who reportedly provided another 60 haredi men with fake psychiatric documents to avoid the IDF draft (they charged them over 400$ each)
The Middle East
Headline: Syria frees dozens more women in hostage deal
To Read: Jeffrey Goldberg (much less disparaging than Ajami, of course) does not think that President Obama's wavering approach to Syria shows that he is unprepared to consider force in Iran-
There are only two issues in the Middle East that Obama considers to be profound national security challenges to the U.S.: The continued existence of al-Qaeda, and the threat of a nuclear Iran. He has made it clear that he never considered the Syrian civil war, and even the use of chemical weapons by the Bashar al-Assad regime, to rise to the level of those threats. (We’re putting aside, for purposes of this discussion, the morality, or immorality, of this belief, although I suppose it is immoral even to put the discussion of immorality aside.)
So his behavior during the Syria crisis -- no matter how ambiguous, hesitant and disorganized it was (all documented in an excellent New York Times article today) does not necessarily teach us much about what Obama will do if he reaches the conclusion that Iran is uninterested in serious compromise on the nuclear issue.
Quote: "I call on European companies and foreign companies doing business in the settlements to put an end to their activities", PA President Mahmoud Abbas, calling on the EU to boycott the settlements.
Number: 724, the number of people executed in Iran between January 2012 and June 2013.
The Jewish World
Headline: Venerated 99-year-old haredi rabbi attacked in his own home
To Read: A Jesuit Priest writes about his great love for the Jewish philosophy of Rabbi Soloveitchik-
Thus, the Rav searched for an authentically Jewish way of acknowledging reality, tackling it face to face, and shaping its form. He did not turn only to halakhic concepts or religious topics. The way he understood Halakhah was more as an instrument of world encounter. This enabled him to integrate into his Orthodox way of life the most diverse aspects of society, environment, and the preconceptions of modernity. Through this method, he attached less of his Orthodox identity to external facts and contents, becoming more and more rigid during the course of history, with a tendency to incline toward a fundamentalist stance. Identity, with Halakhah in hand, can be newly reestablished under any conditions and everywhere, as our whole life is constantly being reshaped through it.
Quote: “What I would say is, ‘Listen. You see that desert out there, I want to show you something.’ …You pick up your cellphone and you call somewhere in Nebraska and you say, ‘OK let it go.’ And so there’s an atomic weapon, goes over ballistic missiles, the middle of the desert, that doesn’t hurt a soul. Maybe a couple of rattlesnakes, and scorpions, or whatever. And then you say, ‘See? The next one is in the middle of Tehran.’ So, we mean business”, Sheldon Adelson suggesting a new Iran policy for the US.
Number: 8, the number of scoreless innings which the Red Sox Jewish pitcher, Craig Breslow, pitched in Boston's first two playoff series this postseason.