As war rages in the Gaza Strip, a parallel stream of cyber combat grinds on in perhaps today’s most populated Web forum and networking hub, Facebook.com.
Two hours after the first Israel air strikes against Hamas on Saturday, American-Israeli public relations leader and Israel Defense Force veteran Joel Leyden created a Facebook “group” titled “I Support the Israel Defense Forces In Preventing Terror Attacks From Gaza.”
By Monday afternoon, the group had 7,300 members.
Eleven-year-old Benjamin Sternklar Davis felt far away from the safety of his Upper West Side home as he walked through the debris-strewn streets of Sderot, in southern Israel. Visiting homes that had been devastated by rocket fire, Benjamin and his mother Sarah wandered through rubble riddled with household items — half-completed math homework, a shredded teddy bear, a frying pan.
Jerusalem: Sitting in a converted bomb shelter in the basement of the hotel at the Ramat Rachel Kibbutz here, about 40 American Jewish college students are sharing their anxiety.
Like a group therapy session, they talk about their frustration, fear and anger over the recent rising levels of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments on their campuses by pro-Palestinian activists, as violence continues unabated in the Middle East.
Jerusalem: Vicki Szenes, a shy 19-year-old with a dazzling smile, often could be seen in the background at the parties and religious celebrations sponsored by the new Hillel chapter at the State University of New York at Binghamton. But it wasn't until after Sept. 11 that the Yeshivah of Flatbush High School graduate and Staten Island native began to feel a pull to get more involved with Hillel, the foundation that encourages Jewish life at universities across the nation.
Columbia University is the latest battleground in a national drive to persuade universities to stop investing in Israel because of its ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.
Dueling petitions are circulating on the Internet this week on both sides of the divestiture issue.
A group of faculty members from Columbia and Barnard College launched a petition Oct. 26 calling on Columbia to use its “political and financial influence to encourage the United States to suspend military aid and arms sales to Israel.”
As a prisoner swap for the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was said to be closer than ever this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reportedly poised to declare a 10-month settlement freeze.
“Netanyahu is set to announce in the coming days that he will accept a construction freeze in the West Bank settlements for 10 months but will exclude [Palestinian east] Jerusalem,” Yossi Beilin, a former leader of the left-wing Meretz party, was quoted as saying.
Full-scale wars, which Israel has fought many times in the past, and major army operations, which Israel has found itself in during recent weeks in Gaza and Lebanon, usually bring stories of troop maneuvers and military analysis, call-ups of the reserves, and civilian sacrifices. The human side of war is often hard to picture from a distance, particularly when the fighting involves Israel, a country that few Americans, even American Jews, have visited.
by Stewart Ain
As a reporter stands at the entrance of the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon awaiting the arrival of a medical helicopter, air raid sirens begin to wail and people begin running.
“We may be facing another rocket attack,” she says just as a rocket, black smoke gushing from its tail, slams with a thud into the roof of the hospital behind her.
As he visits Israel this week for the second time in four months, President George W. Bush has scaled down his expectations for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
Instead of the optimism he displayed late last year when he spoke of the creation of a Palestinian state before he left office, Bush told Israeli journalists Monday that he was hoping the two sides could “get a state defined by the end of my presidency.”
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s future could lie in the hands of a millionaire Long Island rabbi and businessman who is reportedly set to testify as early as this week that he gave bribes to Olmert while Olmert served as Jerusalem’s mayor from 1999 to 2002.