Israeli politics were shaken to their core by dark horse newcomers belonging to a party few had heard of. Close to a quarter of a million Israelis voted for the Pensioners Party, also known as GIL (age), a party run by nonpoliticians that didn't even exist three months ago; a party founded only after the regular political parties ignored the pleas of its constituents and relegated their demands low on the totem poll.
A few days ago an AP news photo featured a plain white box labeled, "Letters to God." A rabbi was taking them out one by one and placing them into the cracks of Jerusalem's Western Wall. The unopened letters joined the other messages, prayers and communications crammed into the interstices between Wall's stones by visitors great and small -- from children who have just learned to write to one from Pope John Paul II himself. When the Israel postal service sorters come upon a letter addressed to the Almighty, they direct it to a special pile for delivery at the Wall in Jerusalem.
In the door pocket of my car I have one road atlas of Israel, one map of the streets of Tel Aviv, one map of the Galilee and, at last count, no fewer than five of Jerusalem. I am always apprehensive of taking the wrong road, and winding up where I might be perceived as an unwelcome intruder.
In strong language a week ago, the United States renewed its security warning against travel to Israel. Nevertheless, millions of visitors are certain to ignore it -- including both the most welcome tourists and the least desirable arrivals of all.
Five hundred million visitors return to Israel in good years and bad,
In the past two years, a soundproof curtain has descended on dialogue between individuals in Israel on the one hand and Gaza and the West Bank on the other. Without the possibility of interchange, it is but a small step to collective demonization of the other.
If Palestinians and Israelis are linked by anything, it seems to be fear and mistrust.
Now a one-of-a-kind social experiment has stepped into the void, attempting to pierce the soundproof curtain. Not between politicians. Not between delegations. Not between professional groups. Not between celebrities.
With supreme -- and perhaps naive -- faith in the common man, a local group has come up with a scheme to allow Palestinians and Israelis a first step in one-to-one contact: giving them the opportunity to talk.
Israelis hit the pinnacle of tension in the hours before the U.S. attack on Iraq, when the order came for every person to open his gas mask kit, twist on the filter, adjust the straps to fit his head and then carry the mask at all times. Recalling the first Gulf War, when Iraqi missile attacks followed the U.S. invasion in swift succession, they anticipated sirens screaming in the middle of the night.
During the first Gulf War, the Tel-Aviv area was the target of most of the Iraqi missiles, and people left the city in droves for safer locations abroad or in the country's periphery.
Although there has been a small exodus this time, most people are staying put. But they are keeping their ears cocked and, in the meantime, allowing themselves small luxuries that they think will calm them down.
My daughter's friend, Hilla, said her 11th-grade social relations class at Herzliya's Yovel High School normally focused on familiar
adolescent topics: interpersonal problems, difficulties with exams, the dangers of drinking and driving.
Two child murders in Israel pushed all else off the Israeli news. The intifada, next month's elections, the souring economy and soaring poverty levels, all were forgotten by a country obsessed with the almost simultaneous disappearance of two girls in Jerusalem -- one Jewish, the other Arab.
Either excoriated as illegal conquerors or praised as pioneers, Jews living in the territories conquered by Israel in the Six-Day War are never portrayed neutrally.
It was Yuval Lotam's first time in many years at a rally. "I always mean to go, but somehow I never get moving in time," he said sheepishly.
The photograph of the Palestinian father cradling his terrified son moments before the boy was killed in Gaza this fall was viewed live on television and reproduced on the front pages of newspapers around the globe. Like the photograph of the boy with hands raised standing in the Warsaw Ghetto, nobody who saw desperate Jamal Al-Durrah vainly trying to shield 12-year-old Mohammed can ever forget the terror in their eyes.
I stared with the rest of the horrified world at the photo of the anonymous Palestinian father holding his anonymous Palestinian son - father wounded, son dead.
People around the world read your poems in 33 languages. You were not lost in translation.
Passover in Israel is a blockbuster week when the country acts not only Israeli, but overwhelmingly Jewish as well. The air turns electric far in advance. Supermarkets are jammed, ringing up the highest sales all year. Matzahs are sold in packages the size of small suitcases, with people buying more than they could ever possibly need. Thirty million dollars are expected in wine sales alone.
Sexual harassment hit the Israeli headlines with a jolt this week when police recommended that Transportation Minister Yitzhak Mordechai be charged with three counts of sexual assault.
Israel has never seen anything this glitzy. True, there have been neon menorahs for Chanukah and light bulbs outlining Israel's numerical age on Independence Days.
When David Mamet, the son of brilliant but emotionally abusive parents, was growing up in Chicago, his mother told him, according to The New Yorker profile of the playwright, "I love you, but I don't like you."
Anyone seeking explanations for a given period or event related to Moses need simply look to this well-organized volume.
The inspiration and driving force behind "Co-Existense" is the energetic and visionary, Freddie Kravine, 80, who serves as president of the Israel Tennis Federation and is one of the original 1976 founders of the Tennis Center.