Chuck Hagel speaking to reporters yesterday, Reuters
Headline: Defense Secretary Hagel Says Syria Has Used Chemical Weapons
To Read: Michael Gerson gives his personal recollections of the former President whose Presidential Library dedication took place yesterday:
For years, I saw Bush through the small but revealing aperture of the White House policy process. Someone would propose a sensitive meeting with a dissident, or a plan to save millions of lives from HIV/AIDS, or an initiative to help mentor the children of prisoners, or an effort to fight malaria in Africa. If such an idea ran the gantlet of lower-level objections and reached the president’s desk, I knew how Bush would respond. He would be direct, decent, human.
Bush’s frankly moral approach, on other issues, is precisely what enraged his critics. But more than most, he is a leader of undivided sentiments. The same man who regarded the authors of 9/11 as evil saw the fight against global AIDS as an ethical imperative. It was all one whole. And with the distance of years, it looks a lot like principle.
Quote: "These malicious and mendacious claims not only justify these heinous terrorist attacks on innocent civilians, but belie the most basic human right – the right to live. They make a mockery of the founding principles of the United Nations and are a deep affront to the American people", a letter written by the Bipartisan Chairmen of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus condemning Robert Falk's problematic statements about Israel.
Number: 47%, George W. Bush's current approval rate.
Headline: For first time, US academic group boycotts Israel
To Read: Dan Calic laments the UN's participation in the creation of a future Palestinian Jihad consciousness through extremist education:
The United Nations charter is meant to foster peaceful coexistence between all people. The theme of UNRWA, in all their publications, is “Peace starts here.” Yet inside these UNRWA classrooms peace is actually being sabotaged.
The US and Europe should give serious consideration to withholding financial support from the UN until UNRWA stops providing this blatantly anti-Israel curriculum which promotes jihad.
Quote: “The Iranians are watching, the whole world is watching too, and we should also see what happens. There is a question here of when you set a red line, do you stand behind it”, Deputy Israeli FM Ze'ev Elkin, prompting the US to do something about Syria.
Number: 193$, the current monthly salary of combatant soldiers in the IDF.
The Middle East
Headline: Israel 'shoots down drone from Lebanon'
To Read: According to Robert Kaplan, today's Middle East is one of tribes and regional influence groups, rather than actual sovereign states of the kind we see in maps:
Gone is the world of the Ottoman Empire, in which there were relatively few battles for territory among the various tribes and ethnic and sectarian groups, because the Sultan in Istanbul exercised overarching (albeit variable) sovereignty between the mountains of Lebanon and the plateau of Iran. Gone is the colonial era when the British and French exercised sovereignty from the capital cities unto the fixed legal borders of newly constituted mandated states and territories. Gone is the post-colonial era when tyrants like Hafez al Assad in Syria and Saddam Hussein in Iraq ran police states within the same fixed borders erected by the British and French. Further down the road, the only states left that wield real sovereignty between the eastern edge of the Mediterranean and Iranian plateau could be Israel and Iran.
Quote: “If [the Syrian civil] war doesn’t end soon, the king of Jordan is going to be a casualty”, Senator Lindsey Graham about the tough times that might be facing Jordan's King Abdullah.
Number: 77.5%, Egypt's amazing youth unemployment percentage.
The Jewish World
Headline: Western Wall rabbi questions Sharansky plan
To Read: Founding member of Women of the Wall Shulamit Magnus believes that the Robinson arch plan is old uninteresting news:
We have not yet seen the Sharansky proposal. But from what we hear, and which Rabbi Greenberg celebrates, it proposes precisely that. It is an old solution in a new guise. Ten years ago, the Women of the Wall were told to go to Robinson’s Arch; that would be an option for Reform and Conservative Jews, too, leaving the Wall in haredi control. We never accepted banishment to another site nor the proposal that the Wall be under a rabbinic administrator who denies the sensibilities and rights of the vast majority of Jews, suffering our presence only on his terms.
We welcome new options for prayer; if the Sharansky plan affords this, good. But an improved Robinson’s Arch is still Robinson’s Arch. It is not the site of 2,000 years of Jewish memory and longing and hope and loyalty to the promise of the return to Zion. The very stones tell that truth: those of the Kotel and Robinson’s Arch are indeed, as many, including Mr. Sharansky have noted, of the same provenance. Those of the Kotel, however, are worn smooth by centuries of Jewish devotion; those of Robinson’s Arch are rough as when they were hewn. Perhaps, in time, Jews will embrace other sites but if so, that will not happen by fiat and certainly not because of banishment from the Kotel.
Quote: "I promise you that I'm much smarter than Jonathan Leibowitz - I mean Jon Stewart", Donald Trump's problematic tweet about Jon Stewart.
Number: 450, the number of foreign pilgrims who are expected to participate in a Jewish pilgrimage to Africa's oldest Synagogue in Tunisia.