Livni and Netanyahu yesterday, photo by Reuters
Headline: Hagel: Israel heading toward ‘apartheid’
To Read: Stephen G. Brooks, G. John Ikenberry, and William C. Wohlforth offer a defense of global US military engagement and criticize the proponents of retrenchment-
They are wrong. In making their case, advocates of retrenchment overstate the costs of the current grand strategy and understate its benefits. In fact, the budgetary savings of lowering the United States' international profile are debatable, and there is little evidence to suggest that an internationally engaged America provokes other countries to balance against it, becomes overextended, or gets dragged into unnecessary wars.
The benefits of deep engagement, on the other hand, are legion. U.S. security commitments reduce competition in key regions and act as a check against potential rivals. They help maintain an open world economy and give Washington leverage in economic negotiations. And they make it easier for the United States to secure cooperation for combating a wide range of global threats. Were the United States to cede its global leadership role, it would forgo these proven upsides while exposing itself to the unprecedented downsides of a world in which the country was less secure, prosperous, and influential.
Quote: "Buy a shotgun", VP Biden offers a self defense tip.
Number: 9, the number of countries John Kerry will be visiting in his first trip to the Middle-East and Europe.
Headline: Livni becomes 1st member of Netanyahu-led gov't
To Read: The New Republic's John B. Judis blames George W. Bush for strengthening the Hamas and undermining the two state solution-
Instead, the administration joined the Israelis in doing everything it could not only to isolate but to defeat and destroy Hamas, even though Hamas had won elections that the Bush administration had urged. At this point, the administration’s strategy recalled earlier failed attempts of American administration to deny the existence of regimes and movements of which it did not approve. By refusing to deal with, or attempting to destroy, movements or governments that have genuine popular support, and that were not at war with the United States, the United States has almost invariably strengthened those movements and governments, and in some cases, removed the possibility that they could have been brought around. There is no question that the American and Israeli strategy against Hamas strengthened that movement, deepened its support, and also hardened its ties to a country, Iran, that both the US and Israel see as hostile.
Quote: “By handing the Justice portfolio to Livni, Likud also handed the key to all legislation in the Knesset to a small coalition faction. Maybe Netanyahu is hoping she won’t do anything in the ministry, as was the case when she headed it in the past, but it is enough that she blocks our initiatives for things to get complicated”, a top Likud minister responding to the Livni appointment.
Number: 35,000, the number people who volunteer for the Israeli Police forces.
The Middle East
Headline: Typhoid breaks out in rebel-held eastern Syria: WHO
Read: Reuel Marc Gerecht & Mark Dubowitz believe the US should invest in a public relations war against Iran to go with the inevitable upcoming incremental sanctions-
Unless Iran abandons its quest for nuclear weapons, there is one certainty in Washington’s policy toward the Islamic Republic: more sanctions. It is also inevitable that the more these economic measures hurt average Iranians, the more controversial they will become, especially in Europe.
The U.S. and its allies, then, would do well to pre- emptively undermine efforts by Iran to play up a false humanitarian crisis in order to weaken the global commitment to sanctions. Victory in the economic war demands winning the public-relations war, as well.
Quote: "There will be no quick and practical end", Nabil Amir, spokesman for the Damascus Military Council, a key rebel group, about the Syrian conflict.
Number: 11, the number of people left on President Morsi's advisory team.
The Jewish World
Headline: Sharansky wins second term as head of Jewish Agency
To Read: Rabbi Gil Student offers a Talmudic perspective on what he sees as problematic aspects in Ruth Calderon's high profile Knesset speech-
Dr. Ruth Calderon’s celebrated inaugural speech in Knesset last week was an impressive and emotional display of secular attachment to the Talmud (link). As such, it raises significant religious issues. The question we have to ask is whether secular study of the Talmud is itself contrary to the Talmud. Our democratic attitude toward knowledge might cheer this spreading of ancient texts but we must remember the larger context.
Non-observant Jews study Talmud for two main reasons–either devotional or intellectual. While these need not be mutually exclusive, the first attitude represents study as a religious act, a form of worship even if denying the Talmud’s full religious authority. The second considers Talmud study an intellectual exercise, a broadening of cultural awareness. Both are potentially problematic from a Talmudic perspective.
Quote: “I didn’t realize that it would mean missing [the] megila [Scroll of Esther] reading. I certainly never intended to limit my freedom of worship, which is a basic right for a Jewish person in a Jewish state that no piece of paper could or should deny. No person – man or woman – should ever be asked to wave their religious rights in a democracy or especially in a Jewish state", woman of the wall (and niece of Sarah Silverman), Hallel Silverman, about being detained.
Number: 58, the percentage rise of anti-Semitic attacks in France in 2012.