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.
Yakum, Israel — It’s been nearly 16 months since the guns along the border with Lebanon have fallen silent, but the last chapter in Israel’s bungled war against Hezbollah has yet to be closed.
The political fate of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the emotional baggage of dozens of bereaved parents will be riding on the conclusions of the Winograd Commission’s report on the war, which are scheduled to be released on Jan. 30.
Hila, Israel — Amid a flurry of reports about possible progress in prisoner-swap talks to secure the release of kidnapped Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, his father Noam says he won’t get his hopes up despite signs of encouragement.
“It has only just started to move. It hasn’t reached an agreement. It has a much longer road to go,” he told The Jewish Week in an interview at the Shalit family home in this northern Israel hamlet.
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?”
Jericho, West Bank — Dressed in freshly pressed uniforms, officers stroll through the new school toting briefcases stuffed with course packs for classes in information technology and Hebrew.
Wake-up is at 5 a.m., and the daily schedule includes lineups, weight training and lectures. It is a place of order, discipline and timetables — concepts not usually associated with the Palestinian security forces.
Jerusalem — On Sunday morning Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said it was on. Sometime overnight into Monday, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski put it on hold. Tuesday, the Antiquities Authority said it was off. And then, the Housing Ministry insisted it was back on.
The construction of a bridge from the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem and the start of a companion archeological dig left the government in a state of confusion as tensions smoldered in the contested Old City.
Jerusalem — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel has no choice but to adhere to the Oslo peace accord, despite the fact that he considers it a “flawed deal.” Speaking to a group of journalists representing Jewish newspapers, Netanyahu said that Israel is committed to carrying out a second redeployment under the treaty’s interim stage. To do otherwise, he said, could jeopardize the country’s international treaties with other nations.
Young Families, Singles Flocking to Upper East Side; ‘The Memory Is In Their Taste Buds’: The Lure of Sephardic Food; Safra Synagogue Rabbi’s Growing Empire; Sephardic And Egalitarian at B’nai Jeshurun; Giving Voice to Sephardic Music.