Growing up in Beersheva, Ilan Ramon didn't dream, as little boys in America did in the 1950s and 1960s, of being an astronaut. After all, no Israeli had ever been launched into space. He dreamt of flying, though, and soon learned to soar over his tiny country as a much-decorated Air Force pilot.
Now Ramon, 48, will do what he dared not even dream: He will travel into space.
Israeli Eyal Milles has been around Palestinians much of his life: fellow students at Tel Aviv University and co-workers at the two urban weekly newspapers he edits. But, says the 35-year-old self-described pro-peace left-winger, they've never been more than passing acquaintances.
Elie Rekhess is a senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University's Moshe Dayan Center for Middle East Studies and an adviser to the Abraham Fund, which promotes coexistence between the Jews and Arabs in Israel. Born in Haifa, Rekhess, 53, served as a strategic adviser to Ehud Barak during his successful campaign for prime minister. He is currently an adviser to the Ministerial Committee on the Arabs in Israel. He was interviewed during a recent visit to the city.
Jewish Week: How has the attitude of the Arab citizens of Israel changed since the Oslo peace accords in 1993?
As the Labor Party reaffirmed its intention to stay out of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new government, the chairman of the secular Shinui Party spoke of joining: and for the first time softened his demand that government handouts end for fervently Orthodox men who don't work.
"You have to do it gradually," Shinui leader Tommy Lapid told The Jewish Week. "We don't want to cause unnecessary suffering to large families. But people who are able-bodied men should go and work.
Despite his decisive victory Tuesday, Ariel Sharon still finds himself in a vise: caught between his desire not to form a right-wing government that would hamstring his ability to deal with American peace demands and an Israeli public convinced that the time is not ripe to pursue peace.
Couple that with the electorate's crippling blow to the Israeli left and the strong showing of the anti-religious Shinui Party, and this election could pave the way for changes in the country's social fabric.
As Israelis buried their dead following back-to-back Palestinian suicide bombings Sunday in Tel Aviv that killed 22 bystanders (seven of them foreign workers) political campaign commercials began running on Israel TV Tuesday night and analysts wondered how the terror attack and new political scandals would impact the Jan. 28 national election.
Charges that members of the Likud Partyís Central Committee sold their votes for cash and other favors in this month's primary (and to a lesser extent allegations of voting irregularities in the Labor Party primary) have rocked the Israeli electorate, with one poll showing that one-fifth of Israelis plan to change their vote because of it.