There should have been birthday candles. Instead there were candles of mourning.
Janis Ruth Coulter would have been 37 last Monday. The petite blonde, who fell in love with Judaism while studying about the Holocaust in college, should have been celebrating with her friends and coworkers at the East Side offices of the Rothberg International School at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where she served as assistant director of the office of academic affairs.
With two terrorist bombings within 24 hours in Jerusalem, including a massive explosion in a crowded cafeteria at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem that killed at least seven and injured at least 86, Israelis braced for Palestinians terrorists to unleash a new wave of attacks.
Avi Dichter, the chief of Israel's internal security, the Shin Bet, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that although a dozen attacks had been foiled in the last week, the Shin Bet had warnings of another 60 pending suicide bombings.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's goal of attracting another 1 million Jewish immigrants in the next 10 years will suffer a setback if pending legislation to tax foreign investment income and pensions of immigrants is approved by the Knesset in the next two weeks, according to Yuli Edelstein, deputy minister of immigrant absorption.
"It would be terrible," Edelstein said during a visit to New York this week.
Sputtering efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks stalled this week after Palestinians wearing Israeli army uniforms killed eight Israelis —including two babies — in a daring, well-executed ambush of a bulletproof civilian bus just outside the West Bank community of Immanuel.
The attack, the first in 26 days of relative quiet, came as no surprise to Israelis.
The first high-level Israeli-Palestinian talks were held this week amid reports that Palestinian leaders have now agreed that President Yasir Arafat must go before any meaningful peace talks are to start.
At the same time, the Israeli government's decision to deny Israeli Arabs the right to buy land in primarily rural communities of the country has triggered a debate about how best to preserve the Jewish character of the state.
The FBI is ignoring its own guidelines on terrorism in the July 4 El Al shootings, possibly undermining America's war against Islamic extremists, several experts told The Jewish Week.
The counterterrorism experts, both American and Israeli, say they are baffled by the FBI's continuing refusal to label as terrorism the Independence Day attack at the El Al counter at Los Angeles International Airport by an Egyptian gunmen that killed a female El Al ticket agent, an Israeli diamond broker, and wounded three others.