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June 20, 2013

This week in power: Clinton, Syria, Waze, Streisand

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/this_week_in/

A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:

Clinton's speech
Former President Bill Clinton spoke in Israel on Monday night and encouraged a two-state solution with the Palestinians. “No matter how many settlers you put out there [in the West Bank], the Palestinians are having more babies than the Israelis as a whole,” Clinton said. He addressed the Peres Academic Center, a speech which reportedly fetched him $500,000. Not everyone was pleased with the message. "This is an existential struggle. It's us or them. The peace delusionists are blind to the facts," said Dror Eydar at Israel Hayom. Not so fast, wrote George S. Hishmeh at Gulf News. "Israel has to abandon its current aggressive and unyielding policies. It then should attempt face-to-face talks with the Palestinians and Arabs, whose governments have introduced an amazing Arab Peace Initiative that guaranteed Arab recognition once Israel reaches an honourable settlement with the Palestinians."

Syria gets worse
"For much of the past two years, Israel has taken a singular approach to the Syrian civil war: Stay as far away as possible," reported JTA. Some worry that's not a sustainable plan. "June 20 is World Refugee Day. Let’s use the opportunity of this annual commemoration by the United Nations to put the 'refugee crises' facing the U.S. and Israel in perspective with the true crisis exploding in Syria," wrote Mark Hetfield at The Jewish Daily Forward. And Noah Beck at The American Thinker worries about the cost of U.S. involvement: "U.S. entry into the Syrian conflict could defeat Assad and deter Iranian nukes, but only with the resolve and overwhelming firepower to demolish the Syrian-Iranian-Hezb’allah axis (ideally with help from NATO forces)." Stay tuned.

Rabbi slander
In the leadup to the appointment of a new chief rabbi of Israel, words are causing a furor. Candidate David Stav was harassed at a wedding and called “a wicked man” by Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, according to reports. "My heart goes out to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. In his old age, he has become an embarrassment to his former glory and brilliance, which he labored for many years to develop," said Dr. Haim Shine at Israel Hayom. Leave the man alone. The Jerusalem Post editorial board offered up a more innovative solution. "Rabbis have always been a contentious group of people and that has not changed nor is it likely to in the near future. Instead of providing more opportunities for rabbis to bicker by maintaining a large, state-funded Chief Rabbinate, we should think of ways of limiting to a minimum the functions of the Chief Rabbinate. Perhaps we should even think seriously about doing away altogether with the post of chief rabbi. Judaism would be better off for it."

Making waze
Google paiud over $1 billion for the Israeli navigation system. "No. 1 is that the company likes Israel, they like the startup spirit here, they like the idea of working with engineers locally, they like the kind of talent they can get here," David Shamah told TechNewsWorld. It may just be a sign of what's to come from Israeli technology. "Israeli R&D is present in 20.5% of all global bio-tech products – a symptom of the rapidly growing Israeli bio-tech sector and the flow of global giants establishing R&D centers in Israel," reported The Algemeiner.

Streisand speaks out
Barbra Streisand, visiting Israel this week, told a Hebrew University crowd that she takes exception to the way ultra-Orthodox Jews treat women. "It's distressing to read about women in Israel being forced to sit in the back of the bus," she said, "or when we hear about `Women of the Wall' having metal chairs thrown at them when they attempt to peacefully and legally pray." It's a longstanding problem, said Laurel Brown at Zap2It: "Although legislation and court decisions have supported women's rights in these cases, there is still a long route to full condemnation of the oppressive practices."

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