April 28, 2013

The US

Headline: Obama wants ‘strong evidence’ of chemical weapons use in Syria before taking next step

To Read: Marking Henry Kissinger's 90th birthday, Robert Kaplan writes a provocative defense of his provocative legacy-

But unlike his fellow Republicans of the Cold War era—dull and practical men of business, blissfully unaware of what the prestigious intellectual journals of opinion had to say about them—Kissinger has always been painfully conscious of the de­ gree to which he is loathed. He made life-­and-death decisions that affected millions, entailing many messy moral compromises. Had it not been for the tough decisions Nixon, Ford, and Kissinger made, the United States might not have withstood the damage caused by Carter’s bouts of moralistic ineptitude; nor would Ronald Reagan have had the luxury of his successfully executed Wilsonianism. Henry Kissinger’s classical realism—as expressed in both his books and his statecraft—is emotionally unsatisfying but analytically timeless. The degree to which Republicans can recover his sensibility in foreign policy will help determine their own prospects for regaining power.

Quote:  “It seems increasingly clear that the Obama administration is feeling pressure to act. But they will likely seek two things: conclusive evidence and multilateral support/participation in whatever action (they) choose, which I think would be limited, targeted air strike”, Mona Yacoubian, a former State Department official and now a Syria expert at the Stimson Center in Washington, giving her assessment of the current atmosphere in Washington.

Number: 40, the percentage of Americans who fear that they or their family members will be a victim of terrorism.



Headline: Israel strikes targets in Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire

To Read: David Ignatius writes about what Israel's possible gains from the regional turmoil facing its neighbors-

The paradox of the Arab revolutions is that though they have created instability on Israel's borders, they have also reduced the conventional military threat. Israel's enemies are tearing each other apart: Egyptians are squabbling internally as the economy sinks; Syrians are battling each other in a bloody civil war; Sunni and Shiite extremists are waging a war of attrition across the region.

Even as Israeli leaders warily watch Iran's continuing push toward nuclear-weapons capability, they talk about a peace dividend. The Israeli defense budget has been declining, and Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the Israeli chief of staff, talked here of seizing the “window of opportunity when there is a small chance of all-out war.”

Quote: “Lapid’s decision disgraces the institution of the Knesset, degrades its members from all factions and severely harms the image of the Knesset and its members”, Knesset Speaker, Yuli Edelstein, criticizing Yair Lapid's decision not to give any more Knesset speeches in the near future due to heckling.

Number: 100,000, the number of people who attended the lag ba'omer festivities at the grave of Simeon Bar-Yochai.


The Middle East

Headline: Intervention in Syria would spell all-out war, warns British general

To Read: Princeton Professor Anne Marie Slaughter reminds Obama of the dallying of the Clinton administration during the Rwandan genocide-

The world does not see the complex calculations inside the White House — the difficulty of achieving any positive outcomes in Syria even with intervention, the possible harm to Obama’s domestic agenda if he plunges into the morass of another conflict in the Middle East. The world would see Syrian civilians rolling on the ground, foaming at the mouth, dying by the thousands while the United States stands by.

Mr. President, how many uses of chemical weapons does it take to cross a red line against the use of chemical weapons? That is a question you must be in a position to answer.

Quote: ““I was given orders to execute the use of poisonous chemicals in caves and tunnels that are used by the Free Syrian Army, but I mixed all chemicals with water and used Javel water instead”, defected Syrian General Zahir al-Sakit talking to Al Arabiya.

Number: 4, the number of brothers killed in a fire at a refugee camp for Syrians in Jordan.


The Jewish World

Headline: Ukraine’s Jews worry anti-Semitism back in vogue

To Read: Rabbi Levi Brackman takes a look at the differences between Judaism and cults-

Judaism offers, through the Torah, a practical structure for living, but does not impose a rigid way of thinking and theology. On the contrary, it allows the practitioner and the one who studies the Torah the ability to express their own individuality in terms of interpretation and scholarship. This is why Jews discuss the Torah and, even young yeshiva students, are encouraged to have their own opinions and to create and write their own novel interpretations on the Torah.

Enforcing mind control or asking the individual to subsume their identity into the identity of the leader or the group misses this important and fundamental element of what makes Judaism special. Such an ideology is cult-like and should not be confused with native Judaism.

Quote:  That reminds me,” O’Brien continued “also joining us is a congressman from New York named Steve Israel, that’s right, he’s from New York and his name is Israel, now there is pandering and then there’s pandering. That is like having a congressman from South Carolina named Jesus H. Gun”, Conan O'Brien cracking Jewish jokes (or rather Jokes about Jews) at the White House correspondents dinner.

Number: 76, the percentage of American Jews who support gay marriage.

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