April 9, 2013

The US

Headline: U.S. Senators Seeking Tougher Economic Sanctions on Iran

To Read: Military specialists Steven Metz and Douglas Lovelace argue that the US military should be careful of marginalizing its infantry and relying too heavily on high technology:

Relying on a high-tech military optimized for standoff strikes makes sense only under certain conditions. It requires readily identifiable targets important enough to attack with a high-tech, scarce, and expensive weapon—and enemies inclined to accept defeat if a certain proportion of those targets are destroyed by American missiles or bombs (or at least be deterred by the possibility of having those targets destroyed). In other words, if the only opponents that matter are other nations—whether Iran, North Korea, or, possibly, China—and if all the U.S. wants is to defeat identifiable enemy militaries and hope someone else builds a sustainable peace that prevents the conflict from spreading or recurring, then an American military focused on high-tech, long-distance strikes makes sense.

Quote: “I can’t imagine a worse person to honor for conflict resolution. Here’s a man who has engendered conflict wherever he goes. He has encouraged terrorism by Hamas and Hezbollah. He was partly responsible for Yasser Arafat turning down the Clinton-Barak peace offer… He is significantly responsible for the second Intifada. If he had told Yasser Arafat to accept that deal we might be celebrating Palestinian statehood today. He just prefers terrorists to Israelis.””, Alan Dershowitz about Jimmy Carter receiving a Human Rights award from Yeshiva University.

Number: $17.8b, the amount of money the US military has spent in recent years on the Stryker family of vehicles (more than 115 percent higher than the original projected costs).



Headline: Israeli official: Hagel to visit this month

To Read: A Washington post editorial claims that Netanyahu’s infamous ‘red line speech’ actually managed to stall Iran’s nuclear progress:

Mr. Netanyahu’s government is not a participant in the talks with Iran, of course; Iran won’t parley with a nation it aspires to “wipe off the map.” But the Israeli leader’s explicit setting of a “red line” for the Iranian nuclear program in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September appears to have accomplished what neither negotiations nor sanctions have yielded: concrete Iranian action to limit its enrichment.

Quote: “Rabin told Senator Baker that GOI [the government of Israel] had made a commitment not to be the first state to introduce nuclear weapons into the area. Israel had kept its word”, WikiLeaks publishes documents shedding light on recent Israeli history.

Number: 7, the number of years in prison given to Haifa resident Milad Khatib for sharing info with Hizbollah.


The Middle East

Headline: Iran announces uranium mining after nuclear talks fail

To Read: Aaron David Miller warns John Kerry of showing excessive presence in Israel and Palestine:

Kerry will soon face a separate frequent-flyer problem. For a new secretary of state, three trips in as many months to assess the situation on the ground makes sense. But if Kerry makes a few more without gaining some traction, he will increasingly risk being taken for granted by the Israelis and Palestinians — too much a part of the furniture.  Both parties can smell an empty suit a mile away. Without results, Kerry's street cred will rapidly diminish.

The new secretary of state must preserve his authority, and that's undermined by repeated travel viewed as motion without movement. Working on a proposal to get the parties back to the table without a way to keep them there just won't cut it. Condi Rice got her own Hebrew verb — le kandel — for her eight trips to put together the Annapolis Conference. The word means “to do nothing.”

Quote:  “all we are waiting for is the go-ahead from the Syrian government to determine whether any chemical weapons were used, in any location. I urge the Syrian government to be more flexible, so that this mission can be deployed as fast as possible”, UN chief Ban-Ki Moon pushing forward a chemical weapons probe in Syria.

Number: 29, the percentage of Palestinians whose opinion about Obama has changed for the worse following the visit.


The Jewish World

Headline: In Holocaust Remembrance Day message, Obama cites commitment to combat intolerance

To Read: Rabbi Donniel Hartman believes that Holocaust Memorial Day should focus on the holocaust, not Zionism:

…It is time to remove Yom Hashoah from its service in the Zionist cause. Those who perished in the Holocaust were not passive sheep, but rather victims of the depravity to which humankind is capable of descending. Just as life in Israel was paid for in blood, so, too, has life as a Jew. On Yom Hashoah we must simply mourn. We must mourn the lives that were tortured and cut short. We must mourn the lives that were not lived and the potential that was never actualized. We must mourn the fact that all too often in our history we as a people were not afforded the right simply to live as Jews. Zionism is neither the symbolism of the new Jew, nor is it the antidote to anti-Semitism. Israel is the outgrowth in the same way that it is the outgrowth of Yom Hazikaron.

Quote: “She was completely untouched by anti-Semitism. She took individuals on their own merits and recognized ability where she found it”, former Jewish British Cabinet member Nigel Lawson, about his former boss Margaret Thatcher.

Number: $259 million, the worth of Poland’s kosher and halal meat industry before the country banned ritual slaughter.