Eli Sinai, Gaza Strip — As Israel’s army began pulling out of Palestinian cities this week and terrorist groups pledged a three-month cease-fire, Israelis in this northern Gaza Strip settlement could find little evidence that the daily fighting going on just outside their window was really over.
“It still hasn’t proven itself yet,” Sarah Kahani, a nursery school teacher, told The Jewish Week. “I want to hope but I’m not 100 percent.”
Gaza City — Hours before narrowly escaping an assassination attempt by the Israeli military, Hamas leader Abdel Azziz Rantisi dismissed the U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace plan and claimed that most Palestinians opposed it as well.
“It’s a big mistake. You won’t find any Palestinian who will tell you otherwise,” said the Hamas hardliner in an interview with The Jewish Week Monday at his home here on the Gaza Strip.
Jerusalem — Before the final press event of Condoleezza Rice’s latest four-day visit in the Middle East, stride piano blues piped into the room perked up a news conference hall half-full with journalists yawning at the early hour and the U.S.’s latest attempt at high profile Arab-Israeli diplomacy. Call it the shuttling secretary stomp.
Tel Aviv — Boaz Levy couldn’t recall the last time he had been to a peace rally.
As demonstrators filed past the street bench where he rested after a 120,000-strong demonstration Saturday night supporting a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Levy explained that the dejection from three and a half years of daily violence stifled any motivation to speak out.
Zikkim Beach, Israel — Itzik Levy rambles up a grassy sand dune just three miles down the coast from Ashkelon and surveys what he hopes one day could be the site of his new home.
Some 19 years ago, Levy had moved to the settlement of Eli Sinai on the northern edge of the Gaza Strip amid dunes with a similar view of the Mediterranean’s blue horizon. Now he’s lobbying the Israeli government to set aside areas like Zikkim Beach or the dunes of Nitzanim for Eli Sinai residents who want to rebuild their communities inside the Green Line.
Ariel, West Bank — On a sprawling hill top in this West Bank town Tuesday, a commitment made by Israel’s leader in distant Annapolis this week seemed likely to take one of two possible paths, with the outlines of each already apparent.
“Look up there. My son lives in that container,” gestured Arik Yeffet. “There are leaks in the winter, and the heating is insufficient. He deserves to have a spot of his own. Did we commit a crime?”
Jerusalem — Give up on Oslo and Arafat. That’s what political pundits are saying the Labor Party, the dominant left-of-center force in Israel since its founding in the late 1960s, must do to maintain its political viability after leaving Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s coalition government.
Jackie Mason’s newest show, “Prune Danish,” is — like its namesake — familiar, unsophisticated and ultimately satisfying. That is, of course, if Mason’s brand of pastry is what you’re after.
The New York Times’ reviewer Bruce Weber clearly had a hankering for something different. He panned “Prune Danish” — Mason’s sixth stand-up stint on Broadway — as “idiotically, hypocritically reactionary” and said the two-and-a-half hour-show served up only about 30 minutes of good material.