Israel has received scant attention in the run-up to the Nov. 2 presidential election. Iraq and the war against Al Qaeda have dominated the foreign policy discussions. And with neither candidate sketching out an approach to resuming the peace process, both sides prefer instead to simply affirm support for Israel's right to defend itself, a mutual stance that requires little dialogue.
The subject, however, has not been overlooked altogether. In the first presidential debate on Sept. 30, both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry said success was necessary in Iraq to ensure Israel's safety. And in last Friday's second debate, Bush used a question on how he planned to repair broken relations with other countries to reflect on unpopular decisions he has made, including rejecting P.A. Chairman Yasser Arafat as a negotiating partner.
Last week in Baghdad, 30 Iranians were captured fighting for the militant Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. A few days earlier, two trucks transporting weapons for Sadr's fighters were caught trying to drive into Iraq from Iran.
At French Connection on Boston's fashionable Newberry Street this past Tuesday evening, L.A. native Lindsey Berman is juggling. A song by the band Journey blares out of her satchel shaped like a guitar each time her cell phone rings. People are calling -- friends, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends. Everyone wants a ticket to the Black Eyed Peas concert that evening, the hot after-party sponsored by the organization Rock the Vote at the Democratic National Convention. Inside French Connection, vendors are hawking their black T-shirts that read, "FCUK you! I'm voting," referring to the brand French Connection United Kingdom. Art Alexakis, the lead singer of the pop band Everclear, is singing. Berman is making sure everything goes smoothly, firing up the volunteers on the street, and figuring out how she'll get credentials for young people so they can get on the floor for the convention's speeches that evening.
Throughout much of the Arab world and Europe, three and a half years of intensive Israeli-Palestinian violence has deepened anti-Israeli and even anti-Semitic sentiment among populations, recent polls have shown. But in Tunisia, home to one of the last significant Jewish populations in the Arab world, Jews there say their lives have continued peacefully.