October 1, 2013

The US

Headline: With Congress at impasse, government starts shutting down

To Read: Jeffrey Goldberg doesn't think the US should be excited about the prospect of negotiations with Iran-

Americans are easily charmed by smiling clerics, and Rouhani understands this. In 2007, he said, “We should talk carefully so as not to provoke the enemy, we should not give them any excuses.”

Who is the enemy? The U.S. is the enemy. According to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Steven Ditto, Rouhani wrote in 2003: “The fundamental principle in Iran's relations with America — our entire focus — is national strength. Strength in politics, culture, economics, and defense — especially in the field of advanced technology — is the basis for the preservation and overall development of the System, and will force the enemy to surrender.”

Quote: “Aside from making us look like a bunch of fools, the biggest detriment is not the operations of our foreign policy machinery but it's the fact that it looks like we cannot govern ourselves. That's actually the biggest foreign policy ramifications of the shutdown. How can we with a straight face tell other governments how they can work in a democratic fashion to achieve consensus based governance and so forth. It's ridiculous”, a senior congressional staffer commenting on the foreign policy implications of the shutdown.

Number: 40, the number of Americans who have gone overseas to fight for Al-Shabaab (the group that committed the terrorist attack in Kenya)



Headline: Discussing Iran, Obama and Netanyahu Display Unity

To Read: According to Aaron David Miller, Netanyahu shouldn't be so concerned about the possibility of a US deal with Iran harming Israel's security interests-

Either there will be a very good deal that will take care of both U.S. and Israeli concerns on the nuclear issue, or there will be no deal at all. And here's why.

First of all, the president worked hard to reset his relationship with Netanyahu and Israel this past year, so he isn't going to undo the progress he's made without a compelling purpose. Tensions with Israel during his first term not only brought zero benefits on foreign policy, but actually became gratuitously harmful, gave Republicans a chance to hammer him, and raised concerns within his own party about his pro-Israel credentials. Given his domestic travails and the 2014 midterms, the last thing he wants or needs is a fight with Israel.

Quote:  “There is nothing to worry about over our joint approach to the Iranian issue. Our goals are the same and our leaders agree on these goals. The main objective is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons”, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro trying to calm down Israeli skeptics about Obama's Iran policy on Israeli radio.

Number: 55, the percentage of 'American Jews of no religion' who have no emotional attachment to Israel.


The Middle East

Headline: Turkish PM unveils reforms after summer of protests

To Read: An interesting piece by Frank Salameh takes a look at how Assad's Alawite heritage and his fear of persecution effect his actions these days-

 Memories run deep in the Middle East, especially among persecuted minorities. The Assads remain haunted by the trauma and deprivation that have checkered their history. A mere generation ago, their daughters in a Syria dominated by Sunni Arabs were being sold into servitude, to suffer a lifetime of toils in the households of urban Sunni notables. This is not a past that the Alawites want restituted in a future Sunni-dominated Syria. And if it means breaking Syria in order to avoid such subjugation, then this is a small price to pay for Alawite dignity and security.

Quote:  “It’s extremely important that there be a very robust humanitarian response to the crisis in order to avoid losing a generation”, Edward Chaiban, UNICEF’s director of emergency programs, warning about the dire situation of Syria's youth.

Number: 55, the number of people dead in bombings claimed by al-Qaeda in Iraq.


The Jewish World

Headline: J Street crowd applauds Palestinian right of return

To Read: Pew's big survey of American Jewry features some very interesting numbers-

American Jews overwhelmingly say they are proud to be Jewish and have a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people, according to a major new survey by the Pew Research Center. But the survey also suggests that Jewish identity is changing in America, where one-in-five Jews (22%) now describe themselves as having no religion.

(Do take a look at a piece we posted yesterday about Brandeis' US Jewry survey)

Quote: “This is great news…It emphasizes the fact that there were rescuers from all nationalities, ethnic groups, religious beliefs or even agnostics. This is a long and painstaking process, but we are sure that there are many more Muslim rescuers awaiting to be discovered”, Danny Rainer of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation praising Yad Vashem's decision to honor Egyptian Dr. Mohamed Helmy as 'righteous among the nations'.

Number: 32, the percentage of American Jewish millennials who consider themselves 'Jews of no religion' (in contrast to only only 7% among members of the Greatest Generation). 

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