The neighborhood covers the hilltops. Beyond the last row of apartment buildings, the slope descends steeply, carpeted in loose rocks, olive trees, and brutally thorny shrubs. A long bridge, part of the highway linking Jerusalem to West Bank settlements to the south, sweeps across the valley below. On the other side, the hills rise again toward the Palestinian town of Beit Jala.
Benjamin Netanyahu plans to address the United Nations tomorrow, the same day Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to ask for U.N. membership for Palestine. The Israeli prime minister's trip to New York is a curious matter. He knows that the Palestinian request will fail in the Security Council. Netanyahu also knows his own speech will not keep a General Assembly majority from recognizing the independent state of Palestine. Netanyahu regards the United Nations as intrinsically hostile territory. He may even know that his speech could produce a few more votes for Palestine.
So why is he bothering? Why didn't he stay home and leave the thankless job of getting up at the General Assembly podium to Israel's U.N. ambassador, Ron Prosor?
(AP Photo/Osama Faisal) Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas during the opening of the Arab League Monitoring Committee to put the finishing touches on the Palestinian bid for U.N. membership in Doha, on Tuesday August 23, 2011.
Dear Mr. Obama,
A clever person succeeds in climbing out of the hole that a wise one avoids falling into. So says a Hebrew adage often applied to national leaders. To my great sorrow, you have already missed the chance to respond wisely to the upcoming Palestinian bid for U.N. recognition. You still have a few days left to be clever. I desperately hope you use them.
(APAimages/Rex Features) Palestinian children's shadows on a wall with a mural depicting a Palestinian fight and an Israeli flag in the Jabaliya Refugee Camp in the northern Gaza Strip.
Once again, war approached. The radio announced funerals of terror victims, including two sisters and their husbands. Politicians competed at bellicosity. Rumors drifted through quiet weekend conversations in Jerusalem synagogues that soldiers in combat units were packing their gear to go south, to Gaza. Again.
The impulse to loose the brigades was poorly considered but not insane. Terror makes people of otherwise measured moods want to attack, to break things and people. The band of terrorists, allegedly from Gaza's Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), that came out of the Sinai desert last Thursday opened fire on cars and buses that were passing by chance on the highway to the beach town of Eilat. They killed six Israeli civilians and two soldiers and left dozens wounded.
The crowd surged uphill, a torrent filling a main street in the center of Jerusalem on Saturday night, coursing toward the square next to Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's official residence -- one of his three homes. The marchers were overwhelmingly in their twenties and early thirties -- the generation of Israelis who have been written off for years as being terminally apathetic. They were jumping, swaying, pounding on pots and water-cooler bottles as drums, blowing whistles, shouting themselves hoarse in the giddy joy of being angry together.
(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) A 13 year old Israeli boy rests inside a tent in a protest tent encampment in central Jerusalem.
"Even Adam Smith is turning over in his grave," reads a handwritten sign pinned to one of the small, square tents. Next to the sign, sewn to the tent, is a piece of cloth with the address printed on it: "51 Tent Boulevard."
On maps of Tel Aviv, the street is listed as Rothschild Boulevard, but over the past two weeks, the new name has become more appropriate. On the wide, tree-shaded center island, hundreds of nearly identical tents have been pitched in neat rows: a city of protest against the robber-baron economic policies of Israel's current and recent governments, particularly a drastic housing shortage that is hurting not only the poor but the daughters and sons of the country's middle class.
(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a parliament session at the Knesset in Jerusalem July 13, 2011, where he defended a controversial new law banning boycotts of West Bank settlements.
This article is against the law. To be more precise: It includes a call for boycotting the products of West Bank settlements, a call that will be illegal in Israel as soon as legislation just approved by the Knesset is published in the official gazette and takes effect. That's normally a matter of a couple of days, perhaps a week.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of J Street
The film shows emails scrolling across a computer screen. Addressed to Peter Stein, director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, they carry more venom than it seems mere pixels of text could contain. They accuse him of being an anti-Semite and of running an "anti-Israel hate-fest." They include words like "Hitler" and ask if next year he will present a retrospective of Nazi film director Leni Riefenstahl's work.
Nadim Khoury watches as brown bottles march single file along the conveyor belt from the machines that sterilize them to those that fill them, cap them, and glue on labels reading, "Taybeh Beer. The Finest In The Middle East." Under his large graying moustache, Khoury has a small smile of entrepreneurial pride.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a lot of things in his address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, most of them foolish and some of them offensive. But one of his very first statements was among the most important: "Israel has no better friend than America," he claimed, "and America has no better friend than Israel."
Barack Obama President Barack Obama Delivers Speech On Mideast And North Africa Policy. (Rex Features via AP Images)
The Israel-Palestine issue was probably not intended to be the headline item from President Barack Obama's long-awaited speech on the Middle East yesterday, yet it is in danger of becoming so following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's aggressive push-back. The section of the speech Obama devoted to Israeli-Palestinian peace adopted a position for which some advocacy groups and commentators, including in the Israeli press, have been advocating for the past year.
Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas regime in Gaza, may be Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's favorite Palestinian leader -- a true ally, a blood brother. What they share is an all-or-nothing approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: either complete Palestinian rule over the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan or complete Jewish hegemony. Neither man is a totally immovable object -- roped and dragged by an irresistible political force, either might agree to less than the whole land, but only in violation of his life's central conviction.
Daniella Weiss has a soft smile and a round face that is remarkably unwrinkled for a woman of 66 known for most of her adult life as an incendiary activist. A cloth cap covers her hair, in keeping with a strict reading of Orthodox Jewish rules for married women. In her living room in the West Bank settlement of Kedumim, west of Nablus, religious texts fill the bookshelves. Glass cases display a silver crown for a Torah scroll, filigreed spice boxes, and other Jewish ritual objets d'art.
When I heard that John Boehner was inviting Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress next month, a faded, sharply contrasting memory of another solemn speech, another leader before a foreign assembly, flashed through my mind. I recalled watching the live broadcast of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat's speech to the Knesset in 1977, an event that set the standard of courage by which all Middle East peace efforts have been measured ever since.
Israeli police officers inspect the site of an explosion March 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
The counterman at the snack-food shack called A Blast of a Kiosk spotted the ownerless valise next to the busy bus stop and called the police to report a suspicious object. While he was talking on the phone and simultaneously trying to shoo people away from the bag, the bomb went off, spraying the metal pellets that had been packed with the explosives.
The kiosk got its name after it was destroyed in an-early 1990s suicide bombing at the same spot, in front of the Jerusalem Convention Center, and then was rebuilt and defiantly reopened. That time, the owner was luckily late for work. This time, his brother-in-law, the vigilant counterman, sustained shrapnel wounds.