Snow falls in Jerusalem, Dec. 12, 2013. Photo by Reuters
Headline: US Hits Firms Over Iran; Sanctions Debate Goes On
Read: Bill Keller compares between Iran's hardliners and America's, two groups which, according to Keller, have a lot in common-
Iran’s rejectionists and our own have much in common. Both see the West and Iran engaged in an existential struggle, immune to diplomacy. Iran’s hardliners believe that America’s real, unstated goal is the overthrow of Iran’s theocratic regime; America’s hardliners make no secret that this is precisely what they want. Both, therefore, equate compromise with surrender. (The obligatory American right-wing talking point – here, here, here, here, here, here and just about everywhere – is that the Iran agreement is a sellout comparable to the appeasement of Hitler in Munich in 1938: no, make that worse than Munich.)
Both believe America’s role in the Middle East revolves in large measure around Israel. To the Iranian hard core, Israel is a nuclear-armed interloper and America’s conjoined infidel twin; to their American counterparts Israel’s values and interests are inextricable from our own, and Benjamin Netanyahu is a more trustworthy defender of our security than Barack Obama.
Quote: "Option three is Assad wins… And I must tell you at the moment, as ugly as it sounds, I'm kind of trending toward option three as the best out of three very, very ugly possible outcomes", former CIA head Michael Hayden saying some controversial things about Syria.
Number: 65, the percentage of Americans who have volunteered for some charitable or religious cause in the past year.
Headline: Roads to Jerusalem closed as huge storm batters Israel
To Read: Michael Kazin writes about how Anti Israel activism is overshadowing more worthy student activism in American campuses (the story focuses on the American Studies Association's Boycott Israel resolution)-
Even if most of the 5,000 members of the American Studies Association endorse the boycott resolution, they are quite unlikely to change anyone’s mind or, for that matter, Israeli policy. Instead, the resolution has embroiled the ASA in an entirely predictable cyberstorm, as charges of “Jew-hating” and “Zionist apartheid” befoul the Internet. Supporters salute the “courage” of their comrades, while many academics who reject the boycott—including eight past presidents of the organization—may never take the ASA seriously again.
Quote: “Ever since the debate began in the Knesset’s Interior Committee, Right and Left, Arabs and Jews banded together to take advantage of the Bedouin’s troubled situation, and they’re trying to warm the air in order to make political gains. Profiteering off their distress could give these politicians certain victories that might even gain them a seat in the Knesset in the next election, and by doing so the situation in the Negev wouldn’t improve”, Benny Begin commenting on the failure and burial of the Prawer plan for the resettlement of the Negev's Bedouin population.
Number: 21, Israel was unanimously accepted as the 21st member of CERN, the European organization for nuclear research.
The Middle East
Headline: Iran halts nuclear talks after U.S. sanctions move
To Read: CFR's Zachary Laub takes a look at how years of lawlessness and neglect have shaped the precarious security situation in the Sinai peninsula-
Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, envisioned by the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli treaty as a buffer zone to build trust and ensure peace, has become a haven for transnational crime and Islamist militancy. Poverty and political alienation among the region's native Bedouins, combined with political dislocations since former president Hosni Mubarak's government was toppled in 2011, have allowed nonstate armed groups to thrive, posing new threats to global trade and the peace on the Egypt-Israel border. After the Egyptian military reasserted its authority in July 2013 and cracked down on Islamists nationwide, militant groups escalated their attacks on peninsular security forces and expanded their reach to cities along the Suez Canal and even Cairo.
Quote: "President Abbas has rejected the ideas presented by the secretary of state", a West Bank Source commenting on PA President Abbas' rejection of Kerry's security proposal.
Number: 5, chemical arms have been used in Syria at least five times, according to the UN.
The Jewish World
Headline: Netanyahu cancels live address to Reform biennial
To Read: Rabbi Gordon Tucker argues (in response to Daniel Gordis' piece) that Pew by no means gives us a faithful picture of the current state of the conservative movement-
But back, finally, to the question of the relevance of numbers. My own intellectual father, Gordis’ uncle Rabbi Gerson Cohen, used to love to ask: “You know about that Golden Age of Spanish Jewry?” and then he would pause, deadpan, before continuing, “It was eight families.” We no longer organize ourselves primarily around clans. But there are cadres and communities that continue to live out and develop the kind of moral and spiritual engagement with tradition that Conservative Judaism came into the world to cultivate. Moreover, there are more than enough of them to ensure that this noble enterprise can prevail and even eventuate in newly defined and robust movement institutions.
Quote: “It is gaining more and more momentum, is very pervasive on the internet and social networks and is increasingly becoming a symbol of the Nazi regime, and does not look like a passing phenomenon,” Yaakov Hagouel, the Head of the World Zionist Organization’s Department for Combating Antisemitism, commenting on a new anti-Semitic-Nazi salute that is gaining popularity among Antisemites in Europe.
Number: 11, the number of buildings Yeshiva University is going to sell in its efforts to relieve its budget crisis.