A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
Third Iron Dome
Israel deployed a third Iron Dome missile defense system this week aimed at the northern borders with Syria and Lebanon, according to reports. Israel has said that it will do whatever it takes to prevent chemical weapons and advanced arms from Syria to get to militant groups. Syrian state television said a “scientific research center” was hit in the strikes, but didn't add any more information. The region awaits what Syria and Hezbollah will do in response to the air strike after authorities had previously made threats of retaliation.
President Obama will travel to Israel some time this spring for the first time since taking office. Many hope that it will give him and israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu time to move past their differences since both men were reelected in their respective elections. “The start of the president’s second term and the formation of a new Israeli government offer the opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel,” Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said. Others aren't so sure this is a good idea. "Assuming coalition talks are completed by the time Obama comes, the new government will be busy with drafting a budget and planning for cuts in government spending and raising taxes. Obama’s visit will be a distraction — not an event that’s going to top the agenda for very long," said Shmuel Rosner in the Jewish Journal.
"One dispiriting lesson from Chuck Hagel’s nomination for defense secretary is the extent to which the political space for discussing Israel forthrightly is shrinking," said a New York Times editorial. "Republicans focused on Israel more than anything during his confirmation hearing, but they weren’t seeking to understand his views. All they cared about was bullying him into a rigid position on Israel policy. Enforcing that kind of orthodoxy is not in either America’s or Israel’s interest." And it could just be the beginning of larger problems for the two countries, said Ilai Saltzman in the Jerusalem Post: "The challenge, however, will be to go beyond the debate over Hagel’s personal views and votes in the past and work out the existing differences between Washington and Jerusalem together through candid dialogue, not unilateral behavior."
War over Warsaw
There's a fight brewing over whether to demolish the historical building of the Jewish community in Warsaw. Developers want to build a skyscraper in its place. "The white building," the headquarters of the Jewish community, is under threat in particular. The local Culture Ministry will make a decision what to do with the location, but they won't announce how they'll be making their decision. Based on past precedent, it doesn't sound like opponents have much of a case and will likely lose. Stay tuned.
Rabbi in the "Tank"
A Chabad rabbi and entrepreneur from Minnesota appeared on Friday's episode of “Shark Tank" on ABC where he pushed his product, the SoundBender, an accessory for the iPad. He ran his investment opportunity by a team of entrepreneurs and business executives. Daymond John, the man behind the FUBU clothing line, took the chance on Weiss's product and gave $54,000 for a 40 percent stake in the company. “One of the great things about reality shows is that it is emes,” said Rabbi Weiss. "Reality is the hardest thing to fake so there was no way I could go on that show and not be myself." Everyone enjoyed Weiss's enthusiasm. "The way he unveiled the product, Steve Jobs-style, is priceless," said a TwinCities.com blogger.