April 5, 2013

The US

Headline: World powers expect ‘concrete’ response from Iran: U.S.

To Read: A new Atlantic council panel report stresses the importance of the White House engaging the Iranian people:

Simultaneous with steps to resolve the nuclear dispute, the United States should seek to engage Iranians through a variety of means, including stepped up public diplomacy; provision of more technology to overcome Internet filtering; and academic, cultural, and sports exchanges. Many Iranians are not aware of the real reason for sanctions because state-run media describes the Iranian nuclear program as purely peaceful in nature. As a result, Iranians are starting to blame the United States for their growing economic hardship. The United States can counter this by retooling sanctions to permit its companies to provide more software and equipment that can enable Iranians to overcome filtering of the Internet and jamming of satellite television.

Quote: “When he came into office, he inherited an Iraq that was moving towards normality and which had become a model for the Arab world… Since then, unfortunately, the US government has not followed up… by pulling our troops out”, former US envoy, John Bremer, about President Obama and Iraq.

Number: 65, Hilary Clinton's approval rate upon ending her tenure as Secretary of State.



Headline: On eve of attack, Israel preparing for the cyber-worst

To Read: Masorti movement leader Yizhar Hess believes that the appointment of a moderate as head of the Rabbinate will not  truly help solve the grave problems Israelis have with Israel's religious establishment:

The proposed action (electing a Tzohar rabbi to the chief rabbinate) is almost tantamount to fraud. Their “nice-guyism” will not solve the problem of hundreds of thousands of Jews who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union but cannot marry in the country in which they are living, nor that of a Cohen who wishes to marry a divorced woman, and certainly not same-sex couples who want to marry.

Quote:  “the Palestinian leadership will not make new demands to UN agencies”, a top US official about the upcoming Kerry visit.

Number: 5, Israel's health system placed fifth among developed countries in a recent OECD survey.  


The Middle East

Headline: Hamas reportedly training Syrian rebels in Damascus

To Read: Michael Gerson takes a look at the idea that the Iranian regime's remarks about Zionism might be an incitement to Genocide:

 But it is possible to underplay this language as well. It is not merely hate speech. It has the hallmarks of incitement to genocide: the dehumanization of a targeted group and the use of code words to cover genocidal intent. (In Rwanda, Tutsis were described as “snakes” and “cockroaches” who should be sent “down the river.” The rivers were eventually clogged with corpses.)

One interesting theoretical question: Is such Iranian rhetoric a crime under the Genocide Convention of 1948 — to which Iran is a signatory — which forbids the “direct and public incitement to commit genocide”? The language of Iranian leaders is certainly direct and public. When forced to defend themselves, they often claim (unpersuasively) that their target is Zionists rather than Jews. But in the determination of genocidal intent, this doesn’t matter. Genocide can be directed against any group — racial, ethnic, religious or national.

Quote: “The Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts have been exposed; the ferocious attacks on Azhar by Islamists and by the Brotherhood in particular are meant to control the institution”, Egypt's Grand Mufti, Shawky Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam, about the tense relation between the brotherhood and the Azhar institution.

Number: 45, the number of tons of (Iranian?) weapons found on a cargo ship seized by the Egyptian authorities.


The Jewish World

Headline: US group blasts Jewish ‘advice’ on peace process

To Read: Rabbi David Katz examines the prospects of keeping Rabbi Soloveitchik's legacy alive:

Today, a considerable time after the Rav’s death, our sense of loss is every bit as acute as it was then—maybe even more so. Orthodoxy in America, while in some respects stronger today than in the Rav’s time, suffers every day from his absence. Issue after issue inflames passions and divides the community, while no voice speaks as the final authority for his constituency. Over the years, different people proclaim what the Rav did or did not stand for, drawing from their perceptions various lessons for decisions confronting Orthodoxy today. There is thus an intense struggle to keep the Rav alive so that he may continue to be our guide.

Quote: “The destruction of the Second Temple was caused by baseless hatred. We must not let similar destruction happen again. We have to guard the Western Wall from becoming a place of argument between extremist factions”, Western Wall Rabbi, Shmuel Rabinovitch, declaring that the ban on women praying at the Kotel will not be enforced.

Number: ~1000, the number of Jews saved by great violinist Bronislaw Huberman during WW2