Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Muallem (Photo: Reuters)
Headline: For Kerry, little new traction as yet another visit to Israel awaits
To Read: Michael Rubin believes that the US' efforts should be focused on Iran, not Syria-
Alas, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now in Syria, American strategists advocate extinguishing the fire rather than addressing the arsonist. Certainly, it is an American strategic interest not to allow Iran to prevail in Syria, although it is doubtful whether the opposition as it is now composed would pose any less of a threat to U.S. interests. Those to whom the Syrian quagmire is predominantly a human rights concern may also counsel intervention, but certainly it is also true that the Iranian leadership cares little if its “export of revolution” kills tens of thousands not only in Syria, but also in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Gaza, or elsewhere.
Simply put, the chief impediment to peace and stability in the Middle East is Iran, and it’s long past time the United States begins to realize that there will be no breakthrough on any issue of concern to U.S. national security until the Islamic Republic no longer exists. It should be the policy of the United States to hasten that day.
Quote: “We think there is a real interest for these countries to cooperate on these cases, because there are times when they want our cooperation. There are other aspects of the relationship that could be the area where we decide to respond”, a State Department official discussing possible retaliation against Russia for the Snowden affair.
Number: 54, the percentage of Americans who believe that Iran's buclear program is a 'Major Threat' to the US.
Headline: Arab MKs tear Bedouin settlement bill
To Read: According to Avi Issascharof's report, the recent round of missiles shot from Gaza to Israel was actually not about Israel-
But this time, after 40 days of total quiet, the motivation for launching the missiles is not related to Israel. The various Palestinian groups, including Islamic Jihad, didn’t even attempt to claim that the “Zionist enemy” was responsible for the current deterioration. The shooting is rooted in an internal Palestinian incident whose exact circumstances are unclear. What we do know is that a senior Islamic Jihad official was shot to death, apparently by Hamas policemen. The Jihad decided to “avenge” his death by attacking a very sensitive spot for Hamas these days — the ceasefire with Israel.
Quote: "The child support budget, why would you care, it's mainly for haredim and Arabs. Don't the haredi and Arab sectors need to feed their children? We will find ourselves at the International Court of Justice. You are jeopardizing human rights", Shas Leader Aryeh Deri criticizing the new government's budget.
Number: 20, Vandals slashed the tires of 20 cars in the Palestinian neighborhood Beit Hanina in Jerusalem.
The Middle East
Headline: Syria: Peace talks not for transferring power
To Read: Nobel Laureate Mohammed ElBaradei sees Egypt's tradition of relying on authoritarian leaders like Mubarak as one of the main reasons for the country's current dire situation-
We are paying the price of many years of repression and strongman rule. This was a comfort zone for people -- they didn't have to make independent decisions. Right now, after the uprising, everybody is free, but it's very uncomfortable. It's the existential dilemma between the yearning to be free and the old crutch of having somebody tell you what to do. Freedom is still new to people.
Most of our challenges are a byproduct of the old dictatorship. We still have an open wound and need to get a lot of the pus out. We need to clean that wound -- you cannot just place a Band-Aid on it. But that is what is happening -- relying on the same worn-out ideas. The uprising was not about changing people, but changing our mindset. What we see right now, however, is just a change of faces, with the same mode of thinking as in Mubarak's era -- only now with a religious icing on the cake.
Quote: "Those laws which look immutable even in ritual part of the religion are not actually immutable and are subject to change under special circumstances… Islamic laws have been developed out of certain conditions and necessities of the time and space. This flexibility must be known as the essential feature of the Islamic law", an excerpt from new Iranian President's PhD thesis.
Number: 33, the age of Qatar's new Emir, the youngest sovereign of any of the Gulf's Monarchies.
The Jewish World
Headline: Pope slams anti-Semitism in meeting with Jewish heads
To Read: Jeffrey Goldberg examines Senatorial prospect Corey Booker's tight connections to Judaism and tells an anecdote about how Booker amazed his (Goldberg's) daughter before her Bat-Mitzvah-
“Amazing parasha!” Booker said. He then quoted -- in Hebrew -- one of its more famous lines. And he shared his expert exegesis on the portion’s broader meaning -- notably, the lessons that any troublemaker worth her salt could derive from Abraham’s audacious decision to negotiate with God about the future of these two sinful towns.
My daughter didn’t know quite what to make of Booker’s erudite and enthusiastic performance. “Is he Jewish?” she asked later. No, I said. He’s a Protestant. “He knows a lot about my parasha,” she said.
Quote: “For years we were imploring these Jews to come home to Israel, and now we’re going to reject them because they can’t easily prove their Jewish ancestry? There is an answer, and that is what this program offers. But if we don’t commit ourselves to it, then we’ll go down as the biggest traitors in Jewish history”, former Mossad chief Efraim Halevi talking about a program he is going to lead which will try to ascertain the Jewish ancestry of FSU Jews.
Number: 2000, Jews have been living in Morocco for over 2,000 years.