Almost 24 years after Zachary Baumel, an American-born Israeli soldier, went missing in action during the Lebanon war, his family has filed suit against the government of Syria for imprisoning their son and cutting off all contact with him.Baumel’s fate is unknown, but Dr. Stuart Ditchek, a childhood friend of Baumel’s in Brooklyn who has led the advocacy on his behalf, told The Jewish Week that the suit, believed to be the first such legal action against Syria, is an effort not to gain financially but to gain information about Baumel and seek his release, dead or alive.
At a recent four-day training session here in hasbara (public relations/advocacy/spin) for 17 high-level Israeli spokespersons, a young woman who deals with the media for the Israel Defense Forces described one of her most difficult encounters with the press during last summer’s war with Hezbollah.
One of the frustrations Israelis feel about the recently released Winograd Commission report is that it was too general in its stinging criticism of the Israeli government and army in their conduct of the 2006 war with Hezbollah. By blaming everyone — from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his cabinet to the commanders of the Israel Defense Forces — in a sense, it allowed everyone to remain blameless. Or more practically, it allowed each of the key figures to explain away his own actions and cast responsibility on someone else.
Israel seems to have little awareness that holiness counts for something in a media war for the Holy Land. Israelís ìsiegeî of the Church of the Nativity continues to be a front-page story around the world. Just a few blocks away from Nativity is Rachelís Tomb, under siege from Palestinian gunmen for 20 months, but never a front-page story. Up in Nobles, Josephís Tomb is still charred from Palestinian fire.
Throughout the on-again, mostly off-again peace process between Israel and the Palestinians for the last decade, Jerusalem has operated under certain basic assumptions.
Chief among them were:
* the primary goal of the Palestinian national movement was to establish an independent state, and to do so, it was willing to allow that state to be demilitarized;
* the establishment of the Palestinian state depended on Israel and its willingness to make compromises and concessions based on its security interests being met;
The Israeli media consistently points out characteristics of the Jewish state that few American newspapers, let alone Jewish leaders, dare say.
For instance, according to a Yediot Achronot editorial (Oct. 23), in Israel ìanarchy is triumphant, boorishness and discourtesy are jubilant, thuggishness is gaining strength, violence is surging, the economy is running into the ground, society is breakingî ó thatís aside from Jews being murdered with regularity.
This week President Bill Clinton indicated he plans to speed up delivery of the $300 million in extra foreign aid he promised to Jordan in October, when King Hussein — who died on Sunday — rose from his sickbed to boost the sagging Wye Rive
Jordan Aid On Fast Track
This week President Bill Clinton indicated he plans to speed up delivery of the $300 million in extra foreign aid he promised to Jordan in October, when King Hussein — who died on Sunday — rose from his sickbed to boost the sagging Wye River negotiations.
A year ago, a number of Jewish groups mobilized young people to help others rebuild homes and communities in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This week a new Jewish group announced plans to send some 500 young adults from the U.S.