by Joshua Mitnick, Stewart Ain and Michele Chabin |
Staff Writer and Israel Correspondents
Israelis were told to keep their gas masks with them at all times as they braced for an Iraqi missile assault Prime Minister Ariel Sharon insists has "only a 1 percent" chance of happening.
What has many Israelis worried even more is the possibility of a major terrorist attack in Israel as the American-led military coalition advances toward Baghdad.
When the city's Districting Commission earlier this year approved a plan that split Brighton Beach in two, some say it weakened the political power of Russian-speaking new immigrants in south Brooklyn.
But the long-term effect may be the opposite.
Galvanized by what many feel was a raw deal, Russian-Jewish activists more than ever are making themselves heard, exhibiting a "don't tread on me" attitude that is as classically New York as it is alien to the mores of Moscow, Kiev or Minsk.
Despite vows of revenge by Hamas terrorists for the capture Monday of one of its founders, Israeli analysts insist that Wednesday's suicide bombing aboard a bus in Haifa that killed 15 and injured more than 40 had no bearing on the arrest.
"It's part of the ongoing, never-ending campaign by radical elements of the Palestinian community to continue using suicide bombings" against Israeli civilians, said Hirsh Goodman, deputy director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University.
After failing to woo the left-wing Labor Party in pursuit of a unity government, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon turned in the other direction and tentatively formed a government of largely right-wing parties that many analysts believe will make it more difficult to pursue a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
"I don't think it's going to last long," Alon Ben-Meir, project director at the World Policy Institute in Manhattan, said of the new government.
Has the European Union, among the harshest critics of Israel during the past two years of Palestinian violence, changed its thinking?
A member of the European Parliament from France, which has seen some of the worst anti-Semitic and anti-Israel violence in Europe since the start of the intifada, believes it has.
Francois Zimeray bases his assessment on his success in garnering enough signatures from fellow members of the European Parliament to call for a probe of the Palestinian Authority's finances.
Israel's Ministry of Interior for nearly two years has refused to grant or renew visas for Christian clergy and other religious officials, an apparent violation of international religious freedom agreements, The Jewish Week has learned.
Critics of the policy, which has prompted rising anger and frustration among Christian leaders, are blaming Shas, the fervently Orthodox Sephardic political party, which has been running the Interior Ministry.