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April 4, 2013

This week in power: Kerry trip, Gas pumping, Damascus attack, Counting Omar

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

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

Kerry stop
Secretary of State John Kerry, it was announced on Wednesday, will make a third stop in two weeks in the Middle East this weekend to try to jumpstart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. "His diplomacy will be based on what he hears from the parties," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. Too little, too late, said James Jay Carafano at National Interest. "A Kerry stop in advance could have paved the way for a more substantive presidential visit. The secretary’s deliberate dodge of the Israelis was a strong signal that President Obama would be pursuing nothing serious in his subsequent visit with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And that certainly proved to be the case."

Gas promise
Israel announced that it's closer to energy independence as natural gas from a large offshore field began flowing into the country over the weekend, according to reports. “We are taking an important step toward energy independence,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said about the Tamar reservoir in the Mediterranean Sea. "Tamar, Leviathan and other possible gas reserves, including one off the shore of the Gaza Strip’s shore, have the potential to be a blessing not just to Israel but to its neighbors as well," said a Jerusalem Post editorial. Yet some warn not to get ahead of themselves. "Despite the celebrations marking Tamar's hook-up to the coast, it brings no good news to ordinary people. Electricity rates will not fall, and the cost of living remains unchanged," Gideon Tadmor told Globes.

Synagogue burned
A Damascus shul that went back many generations was damaged and looted during the Syrian uprising this week, leading officials from the Jobar Synagogue to mourn the loss of its cultural heritage. Fortunately, thousands of priceless manuscripts and Torahs had been had reportedly been moved elsewhere ahead of time to protect them. For Syria’s Jewish community, this is just a reminder of the anti-semitism is has faced in the past. Scary times abound.

"Jew in The Box"
A new exhibit has people wondering about the significance and message -- "a Jewish man or woman sits inside a glass box in the Jewish Museum in Berlin for a few hours a day and answers questions from visitors about Jews and Jewish life," reports say. “Jew in the Box” is part of “The Whole Truth, everything you wanted to know about Jews” and will run through August at the museum. Officials defend the value of having such an opportunity for Germans to educate themselves. "The problem is that they haven’t created the right conditions. A visitor won’t get the message of diversity unless she visits the exhibition many times, meeting different volunteers and talking to all of them," said Jillian Steinhauer at Hyperallergic. "As a Jewish person, I feel pretty confident in saying that it's almost inevitable that putting a Jewish person in a small space, ever, anywhere, will make some people angry, even if it's with the best intentions," added Jezebel's Anna Breslaw.

A new count
Every year some kooky way to keep track of the Omer shows up to the amazement of Internet lovers. This year's version? "Counting the Omar, which posts a different picture of Omar Little from the TV show The Wire every day. I mean, who doesn’t appreciate a little extra Michael K. Williams in life?" asked Lilit Marcus at Patheos. Others are rejoicing as well. "It’s pretty much the best thing that’s ever happened," wrote Stephanie Butnick at Jewcy. Do you agree?

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