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 — 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 — Determined to continue to play a central role in aliyah at a time when the number of immigrants coming to the country is declining dramatically and as private immigration organizations like Nefesh B’Nefesh are expanding their activities and boasting their successes, the Jewish Agency for Israel will soon unveil a “flex aliyah” program for potential olim who do not necessarily want to live in Israel full time.
Jerusalem — Residents of Mamilla, a century-old neighborhood located right outside the Old City of Jerusalem, have been eyewitnesses to many important events in the city’s turbulent history.
In 1948 and 1967, they either fled or shuttered themselves in their homes as soldiers fought on their doorsteps. Now, during happier times, they watch tens of thousands of Israelis march to the Western Wall to celebrate holidays.
Speaking before several dozen people munching on babaganoush and taboule and chatting away in Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish and English, the Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury invoked the hallowed name of Al-Andalus.
"And if we do not find it, we can build it in our hearts," he said at the reception for a literary event last week in the Soho studio of Iraqi-born sculptor Oded Halahmy.
In 1999, before the intifada deepened Israeli and Palestinian mutual distrust, Israeli artists Bosmat Alon and Tirtza Even visited the West Bank to shoot a video critical of Israeli policies to curtail Palestinian life.
Introduced by Israeli leftist activists to former political prisoners and ordinary families, Alon and Even spent months in the contested outskirts of Hebron and the cramped streets of the Deheishe camp near Bethlehem.
Vacationing in Israel two years ago, my family went on a two-day tour of Jordan, our first venture to an Arab nation. Our guide hustled us from site to site, but I had a moment of solitary reflection while on the Citadel in Amman, overlooking the white expanse of the stone city clinging to the hills below, so reminiscent of Jerusalem. The noises of the city were muffled by the arid air and summer heat. For the first time, the seal in my mind between Israel and the rest of the Middle East was punctured, and a question seeped through: What is this world beyond? But the moment was fleeting.
Albert Einstein’s combination of scientific genius, humility, good humor and distinctive grooming made him a cultural icon. An illuminating exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History provides remarkably lucid explanations of the shock-headed scientist’s theories that changed the way light, time, energy and gravity are understood.
“Einstein” also demonstrates how the Nobel Prize-winning physicist used his celebrity to promote his other passionate concerns: pacifism, socialism, disarmament and Zionism.
Another historical marker for the Middle East on the eve of Annapolis: Nov. 29 marks the 60th anniversary of the United Nations approval of a partition plan to divide the Jews and Arabs of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. How fitting, sadly enough, that this week also signals the umpteenth diplomatic attempt to resolve the same Arab-Israeli conflict.
Fishermen go where the fish are. Borders and national boundaries mean little to men whose lives are regulated by tides, currents and wind.
Even in the Middle East.
“Area K: A Political Fishing Documentary” by Nadav Harel and Ramon Bloomberg is an adroit hour-long film that explores a rare area of cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, the product, ironically enough, of the attempt of Israeli military authorities to impose borders on the fishermen of Gaza City.