The Israel Project, says its founder and president Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, was created in March 2002 in Washington to improve Israel’s image based on polls the group conducts, interprets and shares with officials of the Foreign Ministry and top Jewish leadership in the United States.
Now, though, the group is concerned about an image problem of its own, with some tough criticism coming from at least a few Israeli officials and Jewish leaders who question whether the project’s work is helping or harming Israel’s cause.
Suddenly, it seems, the increasing numbers of Jewish singles are gaining attention, from demographers warning of our shrinking numbers, to entrepreneurs pushing JDate and a host of other dating Web sites and matchmaking services, to psychologists worrying that today’s young people are being unrealistically demanding in choosing a mate.
A bill permitting civil marriage in Israel, which the government of Ehud Olmert had promised to propose, is finally ready for submission to the Knesset. But its chief advocates are opposed, saying it is too narrowly drawn.
As Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sought to shore up his coalition government this week by adding right-wing lawmaker Avigdor Lieberman, media reports spoke of an imminent showdown between Fatah and Hamas, military tensions on the Syrian border, and threats of a Palestinian attack.
"This is the calm before the storm," Abu Abir, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, vowed at a press conference after Israeli troops reportedly killed seven Palestinians in clashes in the Gaza Strip Monday.
Palestinian infighting is complicating efforts to win the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, captured by Palestinian terrorists in a cross-border raid from Gaza June 25, and Israeli officials are said to be considering their own raid to free him, according to Israeli analysts.
Israeli troops remained in southern Lebanon this week after their withdrawal was delayed by disagreements with United Nations commanders over how to handle armed Hezbollah terrorists and amid reports that Hezbollah was rearming and moving rockets closer to Israel's border.
The road map, the international plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, has been dusted off and is once again the principal initiative being pursued by Israel with the Palestinians: even though much skepticism surrounds it.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made the announcement last weekend after meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"I'm sticking to my position that the diplomatic process with the Palestinians should continue in accordance with the road map," he said.
The cease-fire in Lebanon seemed to gain traction this week as Israeli troops continued their gradual withdrawal from the south and prepared to begin lifting the air, sea and land blockade of the country. Lebanese and United Nations troops took up positions in southern Lebanon to enforce the truce that last month ended 34 days of Israeli-Hezbollah fighting.
’Convergence” may soon be relegated to the scrap pile of outdated Mideast phrases, along with “road map” and so many others. For as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert struggled this week to shore up his faltering coalition and respond to calls for a commission to examine the failures of the war in Lebanon, his plans to withdraw from large areas of the West Bank were shelved.
The government’s new focus will be on repairing the damage Hezbollah rockets caused in the north and strengthening that area in the event of further attacks.
With a cease-fire in place since Monday after 32 days of fighting, finger pointing has begun in Israel over the conduct of the war, with some questioning whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his government will be able to survive the close scrutiny to which it will be subjected.
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