April 24, 2013

The US

Headline: U.S. officials not persuaded Syria used chemical weapons

To Read: Michael Grunwald believes that avoiding death is a good enough reason for occasionally compromising some important freedoms-

We’re often told that our liberties are under assault. The right warns that our Big Government nanny state is plotting to seize our guns and our Big Gulps, while strangling our economic freedom with taxes and regulations. The left rails against our Big Government security state — the drone warfare, indefinite detention and electronic surveillance that make the war on terrorism sound like an Orwellian nightmare. The National Rifle Association had just finished bellowing about background checks violating our Second Amendment rights when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) started shrieking about the FBI violating the Boston bombing suspect’s Miranda rights.

America was born from resistance to tyranny, and our skepticism of authority is a healthy tradition. But we’re pretty free. And the “don’t tread on me” slippery-slopers on both ends of the political spectrum tend to forget that Big Government helps protect other important rights. Like the right of a child to watch a marathon or attend first grade without getting killed — or, for that matter, the right to live near a fertilizer factory without it blowing up your house.

Quote: “I talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning. I think it is fair for me to say that he was not in a position to confirm that in the conversation that I had. I don't know yet what the facts are”, John Kerry about the alleged Syrian use of chemical weapons.

Number:  44, the percentage of Americans who view John Kerry favorably.  



Headline: Law to cut funding of haredi schools

To Read: Zvi Barel thinks that the US Senate's resolution to automatically support Israel on Iran is a double edged sword-

According to the resolution, Israel has no obligation to coordinate the attack with the U.S. or receive a green light for it. If the resolution will be passed in Congress, the president will not even have the right to prevent an Israeli attack or distance himself from involvement in that war. It will be the first time that the tail wags the dog and the trailer drags the engine by law, and not out of blindness or stupidity. Could there be any greater commitment to Israel’s security?

But the Foreign Relations Committee’s resolution also has a threatening aspect. It strengthens the impression that Israel sought to avoid, according to which Iran is a threat solely to Israel, not to the world. Israel hopes that if a decision should be made to attack Iran, the U.S. and perhaps Western states will be the ones to make that decision.

Quote:  “The war drums are beating at this moment in relation to both North Korea and Iran, and as long as Tel Aviv has the compliant ear of the American political establishment, those who wish for peace and justice in the world should not rest easy”, UN official Robert Falk tying the Boston Bombings to US support of Israel.

Number: 5, the number of anti-Israel resolutions the PA has agreed to postpone.


The Middle East

Headline: Clashes escalate on Syria-Lebanon border

To Read:  According to Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Bob Corker, trying to assuage the suspicions between Alawites and Sunnis and coordinating efforts with Russia are the US' best bets when it comes to Syria-

Establishing common cause between moderate Sunni groups and Alawites — parties that are currently at war with one another — against radical Sunni groups and Iranian proxies will be central to building Syria’s next government. The Alawites are largely clinging to Mr. Assad’s regime for fear that a Sunni victory will lead to sectarian violence against them and that it may be part of the larger, increasingly bitter Sunni-Shia divide throughout the region.

When it comes to Russia, America must display a deeper understanding of Russia’s regional interests and take advantage of our shared concerns about Islamic extremism. Russian leaders believe that Syria is becoming a safe haven for extremists, and we should take that concern seriously while at the same time insisting on sending aid to moderate groups. This could be the basis for a new understanding with Moscow and a shared approach toward Syria.  

Quote: “Forget about plan B, there is no plan B. If you think they [Abbas and the Palestinian leadership] know what to do after Kerry’s attempt to renew the negotiations, you’re wrong”, a Palestinian official about the lack Palestinian peace strategy.

Number: $200m, the monthly business cycle of a giant drug dealing network which allegedly helps fund Hezbollah and which the US is targeting.


The Jewish World

Headline: Ruskay to leave UJA-Federation of NY

To Read: Dr. Yoel Finkelman claims that the American Jewish Orthodox community knows far too little about its education system-

Still, the result is that we just don’t know all that much about Orthodox Jewish education. We don’t know much about students, families, teachers, classrooms, curricula, summer camps, youth groups, college choices, administrators, or communities.  We don’t know what Orthodox Jewish young people think, believe, or feel as Orthodox Jews, and we don’t know how they act.  We don’t know what they like or dislike about observance, what they feel attached to or distanced from.  We do not know how many Orthodox people stay Orthodox, and what it means for them to leave or stay.  We don’t know what factors correlate with or cause young people to thrive religiously, what causes them to abandon religion, or what leaves them ambivalent.  For decades we have had a thoughtful and insightful anthropological study of a fundamentalist Christian day school—written by a Jew, no less—but not even the beginnings of a similar study of an Orthodox Jewish day school.

Quote: “Rav Ovadia is willing to lose both chief rabbis if getting them means a partnership with the ones who stuck a knife in our back and went with Yair Lapid”, a senior member of the Israeli Shas party, showcasing Israel's deep Ultra-Orthodox/Zionist-Ultra- orthodox tensions.  

Number: 70, the number of Muslims who have been named 'righteous among the nations' for saving Jews during the Holocaust.

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