by Michele Chabin |
Jerusalem — For the first time in her life, Efrat, a 19-year-old yeshiva student, will be voting in Israel’s national elections. Seated around a table with girlfriends in the food court of a downtown shopping mall, the soft-spoken teenager lists the issues most important to her.
“There needs to be more unity among all the people. Right now, there’s a distance between us. We need to be one nation, one people,” she says.
James Besser |
For months, officials in Washington had feared a diplomatic earthquake on May 4, when Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, terming it a “sacred date,” threatened to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state.
Instead, next week’s long-feared deadline may pass with barely a rumble, thanks to intensive U.S.-Palestinian diplomacy and a new initiative from Washington that promises to revive U.S. mediation efforts after the upcoming Israeli elections.
The battle for Jerusalem has hit cyberspace. Israel’s mission to the United Nations this month created its own Web site to counter what Israeli officials maintain is a stepped-up offensive by the Palestinian Authority to argue its case on the Internet.
On the new Israeli UN Web site, a section titled “Palestinian Web Watch” contends the Palestinians are using their Web pages to violate the Wye agreement that calls for resolving outstanding issues through negotiations.
The ad is striking, showing two trains converging onto the same track with the headline: “Are secular and religious Israelis on a collision course?” Beneath the picture are the words: “Not if we can help it.”
The ad, which appears in this week’s Jewish Week, launches a yearlong campaign in the U.S. and Israel by Bar-Ilan University designed to promote tolerance and stop the culture war. One line reads: “Isn’t it time for the rest of the Jewish people to stop pointing fingers and to start joining hands?”
Asserting that “Israeli society is in danger now,” Leah Rabin this week announced a hoped-for national antidote — the establishment of a $40 million center in Tel Aviv in her late husband’s memory, dedicated to furthering peace, tolerance and democratic values.
Get ready baseball card collectors, Israel Bonds is coming out with its own collectible collection — and it’s guaranteed to make money. Israel Bonds is reaching out to those who give bar and bat mitzvah gifts of $125 or $150 in checks and suggesting they instead buy its new $136 Chai Bonds. They mature in five years at a value of $180.