Ramallah, West Bank — Walking through the sunny, well-kept streets of Deir Debwan, a half-hour outside Jerusalem, it is easy to see why this tony Arab enclave has been dubbed the Beverly Hills of the West Bank.
Thanks to the success of its far-flung sons and daughters, multi-level homes abound. Some have indoor swimming pools. And at one time or another, nearly half the town’s 8,000 residents have lived in the United States.
Jerusalem — While British Prime Minister Tony Blair practically did cartwheels to avoid courting controversy during his visit to Israel this week, New York City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, also on a whirlwind tour, took no such precautions.
Jerusalem — For the first time in her life, Efrat, a 19-year-old yeshiva student, will be voting in Israel’s national elections. Seated around a table with girlfriends in the food court of a downtown shopping mall, the soft-spoken teenager lists the issues most important to her.
“There needs to be more unity among all the people. Right now, there’s a distance between us. We need to be one nation, one people,” she says.
Jerusalem — Having successfully recovered millions of dollars worth of Jewish property lost in the Holocaust, restitution experts in Israel and the U.S. are now setting their sights on the Arab world.
The Knesset Parliamentary Committee on the Restitution of Jewish Property announced plans this month to create a national center to register documents and testimony about the possibly “tens of billions of dollars” in property left behind by Jews who emigrated to Israel from Arab/Muslim countries.
Jerusalem — Eli Sanders, an incoming senior at Columbia University, never gave much thought to campus anti-Semitism — that is, until a fellow student submitted a controversial article to the Columbia Daily Spectator.
“It was an opinion piece, and it said that the hands of the Jews are stained in blood,” Sanders, the paper’s chief editor, recalls during a tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem — All they ever wanted was a child. For a decade the observant couple, who live on a moshav in the north, had been trying to have a baby, only to have their hopes dashed time after time. The wife, who could not conceive naturally, underwent numerous in-vitro fertilization treatments. Even when these proved successful, she suffered eight miscarriages due to an immunological disorder that caused her body to reject the fetuses.
Desperate, the couple went in search of a woman who could bear them a child.
Jerusalem — In the wake of this week’s agreement between the United Nations and Iraq, attention here turned to the threat posed by other countries in the Middle East with nonconventional weapons.
In addition to Iraq, “Iran, Syria, Egypt and Libya are all developing chemical and biological weapons at a rapid rate,” said Dr. Dany Shoham, a military expert at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Affairs.
Jerusalem — Yossi Oren says he isn’t worried that Iraq will attack Israel with conventional, biological or chemical weapons.
“The situation is a lot better now than it was seven years ago,” asserts the 43-year-old Jerusalemite, referring to the 1991 Gulf War. During that six-week battle, Iraq lobbed 39 Scud missiles at Israel.
“Today,” Oren continues, “Israel has more sophisticated tools to destroy missiles. And anyway, I don’t think any Scuds will fall.”
Jerusalem — What do Israelis make of the crisis over conversions that has bitterly divided American Jews? While many are still unaware of the Reform and Conservative movements and what they stand for, there are indications that the issue, which has simmered for about a year, is finally making an impact here.
The media this week devoted more attention than ever to the issue. The mass-circulation dailies, which rarely referred to the conversion crisis, have been brimming with articles on the so-called “conversion bill crisis” for several months now.