A woman praying at the Western Wall, Reuters
Headline: Lawmakers press Obama to take action on Syria
To Read: Leslie H. Gelb Supports Obama's decision- or whatever it is- not to rush too quickly into the Syrian conflict despite his 'red line' promise-
Yes, Mr. Obama was wrong to declare Syria’s use of poison gases to be a “red line” that required U.S. military action. Presidents should say such things only when they’re absolutely sure they will act accordingly. He wasn’t sure and still isn’t. But he’s right to count to ten now before he does something irretrievably stupid. We aren’t yet certain exactly what happened. We aren’t confident whether taking direct military action will bring the civil war to a speedier end or make it bloodier still. And we have no idea what we would do if initial U.S. military moves fail.
Quote: “The worst thing the United States could do right now is put boots on the ground in Syria”, Senator John McCain, talking about Syria.
Number: $137m, the revised cost of every F-35 fighter jet (original estimation $69m).
Headline: Israel Says It’s Not Seeking U.S. Intervention in Syria, Despite Chemical Arms
To Read: Jonathan Freedman believes that Israel's ultra-orthodox community might be a surprising key to the two state solution-
The pragmatic truth is that if a dove-ish Israeli government, even one committed to ending the occupation, were to give the haredim what they want – military exemption and serious funding – the ultra-religious parties would be likely to give it their blessing. That may be hard for the Israeli left to swallow. "Liberal Israel has to make its choice," says Daniel Levy, who runs the Middle East programme for the European Council on Foreign Relations. "What's more important: having the haredim serve in the army or a two-state solution?"
But this is not a matter for the left in Israel alone. There's a role here for the rest of the world. When Bill Clinton was overseeing the ultimately successful peace process for Northern Ireland, he went through a spell of seeing everyone, even the tiniest loyalist splinter group would get a face-to-face meeting in the Oval Office. He knew that every vote would count. Barack Obama and John Kerry – and William Hague for that matter – should take note. Don't just meet the leaders of today's Israeli government, meet the men and women who could form the next one – including the religious fundamentalists who might just hold the key to peace.
Quote: "[analysts told the Israeli cabinet that] in the year 2008, and at the latest 2009, the Iranians will have a nuclear capacity, we took it very seriously. Now, we are in the middle of 2013 – and they still don't have it", former PM Ehud Olmert claiming that the Iranian nuclear threat is exaggerated.
Number: 600, the number of fires which broke out in Israel during the Lag Ba'omer festivities.
The Middle East
Headline: Syria PM 'survives car bomb attack'
To Read: Egyptian journalist Gamal Abuel Hassan takes a look at the harrowing prospect of Egypt suffering state collapse-
Egypt used to be considered an exception to this reality of state fragility in the Middle East. It has been one of the longest-existing political entities throughout history. Therefore, many may dismiss the possibility of state collapse in Egypt as mere exaggeration. Interestingly enough, Egypt’s defense minister does not seem to be one of those who think the idea is totally preposterous. In January, referring to the political crisis and the deteriorating security situation, he said the “current unrest may lead to state collapse.”
“Egypt is too big to fail” has become the newfound mantra repeated by many to reject prospects of total collapse. But what if Egypt is too big to save? What if the inherent weaknesses of state and society in Egypt reach a point where the country’s political, social and economic systems no longer function?
Quote: "In reality, Jabhat al-Nusra is a normal group, and the fighters in Jabhat al-Nusra are not more than 5,000 in all the country", Syrian rebel General Salim Idris, trying to reassure his interviewer (and the world) that Syrian Jihadist movement Jabhat al-Nusra isn't as big and threatening as everyone thinks.
Number: 50, the percent decrease in Iran's oil revenues since the sanctions were imposed by Europe and the US last year.
The Jewish World
Headline: Women of the Wall fight on
To Read: Rabbi Steven Pruzansky gives his skeptical orthodox perspective on WOW-
There is a second sensation that arises as well to which many have become accustomed as these arguments pop up every now and then: sadness. It is sad when women feel that they are spiritually significant beings only when they mimic what men do. Whatever obscure sources one wants to cherry-pick after the fact, it is obvious – for example – that women have never worn talitot during prayer. That these women should feel that their prayer is elevated and worthy only when wearing male garb in public is just sad. (One wonders why these women just don’t wear tzitzit¬ – a talit katan – everyday under their garments like observant men do, or is it just the public show that matters?)
Certainly men can light Shabbat candles every Friday night and go to the mikveh once a month, but those men are mimicking women and fashioning their own religion that has little connection to God or Torah. It is the ultimate in self-worship. Egalitarianism has become the dominant value – above all others – such that the Torah is merely a tool in achieving it, and any jot or tittle of the Torah that engenders any sort of inequality must be abandoned, according to this way of thinking. For example, there are non-Orthodox Jews known to me who refuse to daven anywhere there is a mechitza (partition between men and women), deeming such to be “immoral.” They are sincere, albeit misguided. Where does it end? Should we anticipate a day when women will be clamoring to grow beards during sefira and lamenting the unfairness of it all – the “male patriarchy” – if they can’t?
Quote: "He was a very smart man but he died like an idiot”, Paul Skurka, Holocaust survivor, about his friend and fellow holocaust survivor, Roman Blum, who died with an estate of 40$ million, no will and no heirs.
Number: 4, the number of women who are going to run for leadership positions in Orthodox synagogues in London next month (3 more are considering running).