The Capitol building in Washington, photo by Reuters
Headline: Senate bill aims to toughen Iran sanctions
To Read: According to former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, with all its past experience with intelligence mistakes, the US needs to remember to calmly examine the possible motives of despots before making game changing decisions-
…the United States should be asking two central questions. First, what reason would Assad have for using small amounts of sarin on the rebels (and civilians) when he has so many other lethal conventional weapons at his disposal, especially considering his knowledge that their use would give the United States a clear justification to intervene? He must be aware that the intervention of the world’s only military superpower in Syria would all but ensure the demise of his regime. Without U.S. intervention, Assad believes he still has a chance to survive, so why would he take actions certain to increase the odds of U.S. involvement?
Quote: "I think it is fair to say that we are working through threshold questions and we are doing it with a seriousness of purpose that I think Minister Livni would agree with me has not been present in a while", John Kerry talking about his recent meeting with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
Number: 58, the percentage of white people (and white potential voters) among the US' 15-18 year old population.
Headline: B'Tselem: Majority of Palestinians killed in Gaza op were civilians
To Read: Lee Smith argues that history has proved that Israel was right in not giving up the Golan to the Assad (and his son)-
On Sunday, Israeli Air Force targeted sites around Damascus to stop the transfer of Iranian Fateh-110 missiles—capable of hitting all of Israel’s major population centers from all of Lebanon—to Hezbollah. But what if those missiles were in the hands of Syrian (or Iranian) troops sitting on top of the Golan Heights?
That’s precisely what would have happened if America’s foreign policy wise men from James Baker to Martin Indyk had their way. As recently as 2010, Indyk, a Middle East adviser to the Clinton White House and a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, was arguing that Israel should give away the Golan—in order to promote a wider peace in the Middle East. “Nothing could better help Obama to isolate Iran,” wrote Indyk, “than for Netanyahu to offer to cede the Golan, as four other Israeli prime ministers have, in exchange for peace with Syria, which serves as the conduit for Tehran’s troublemaking in the Arab-Israeli arena.”
Quote: “Israel’s alleged airstrikes in the Damascus region play nicely into the hands of Assad and the Syrian regime. In fact, they’re celebrating. It’s exactly what they needed”, Professor Kais Firro, an Israeli Syria and Lebanon specialist, in an interview for Almonitor.
Number: 1,800, the number of Ultra-Orthodox students who will be exempted from the army annually for religious studies, starting 2017, according to a ministerial committee plan (today it's somewhere around a gazillion).
The Middle East
Headline: U.S. Is Warned Russia Plans Syria Arms Sale
To Read: Adeel Malik and Bassem Awadallah, an Oxford scholar and Jordan's former Minister of Finance, believe that what the Arab world really needs for reforms to be facilitated is an internal Marshall plan- by Arab countries for Arab countries- aimed at creating economic activity rather than distributing alms and welfare-
The current impasse on economic reform highlights a larger point: subsidy and tax regimes cannot be reformed without first redefining the underlying social contract, which has long exchanged welfare distribution for political acquiescence. But such a move is far too risky for an individual politician, or even a single country, at a time of economic uncertainty and high unemployment.
In order to create the political space needed for economic reform, Arab leaders must underwrite a regional growth pact – a Marshall Plan of sorts – that would facilitate major new investments aimed at reviving economic activity. It is much easier to reform subsidy programs when the economy is expanding.
Quote: “a final decision has been taken to turn the Golan Heights into the new ‘Fatahland’ and the front will be open to Syrians, Palestinians and to all who want to fight Israel", an Iranian official making announcements.
Number: 40, the percentage of Jordan's population which the Syrian refugees will count for by 2014, according to Jordan's foreign Minister.
The Jewish World
Headline: Israel eyeing closer ties with J Street
To Read: Rabbi Natan Slifkin thinks that donating to ultra-orthodox kollel education institutions is hazardous to those receiving the donations-
Rambam says that the highest form of charity is to enable someone to become independent. Supporting the charedi kollel system is the exact opposite - preventing people from ever being able to be independent.
The majority of people in the kollel system today are not on track to become Torah leaders and educators. When you support a charedi man in kollel, it's not something that can be simply ended at some point, with the merit points waiting in Olam HaBa. There are long-term consequences to what you have done. By supporting him, you have enabled him to advance in years while lessening his ability to be employed. Furthermore, by supporting the charedi mass-kollel fantasy, you have effectively encouraged him to ignore Chazal's teachings and to bring up his children without the knowledge, qualifications or desire to work for a living.
Quote: “..in the 1940s, the Frank family had its possessions seized by the Germans and their accomplices. Now a Dutch institution is trying again to carry out a seizure”, a member of one Anne Frank fund saying some unfortunately harsh words about a rival Anne Frank fund.
Number: $35,000, the amount of money the Jewish refugees who fled Arab countries have received from the UN since 1950.