Israel has agreed to withdraw it’s troops from Lebanon by the weekend. About 80 percent of the Israeli force has already left after the 34 day war with a Lebanese Hizbollah guerilla group, but Lieutenant-General Dan Halutz said that Israel wanted the troops home by Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) which begins on Friday. The French have also deployed their peace keeping force, increasing the number of troops to 4950. The UN feels that a force of 5 000 is sufficient to enforce the August 14 truce between the two countries. The peace keeping force will aid the 10 000 Lebanese troops already deployed in Southern Lebanon.
People on blog sites such as livejournal are telling their personal stories about living with war and many are even engaging in civil and informative conversations with people on opposite sides of the conflict. In a recent article in Wired News there is a story of a young woman living in the center of Beirut whos has been doing just that.
“We have opportunities of directly talking to the person on the other side and figuring out what they want,” she said. “I get a lot of questions like: ‘Why didn’t your government kick out Hezbollah? Why didn’t your army stop them?’ Now people get a chance to find out.”
Through discussions and journal entries bloggers are reaching a new level of communication that would have been impossible throughout history during armed conflicts. It is allowing citizens to converse and relate to one another. This is an awesome story of people working to reach each other and tell personal accounts of what life is like when living in the heart of a war zone.
“A five-minute walk and I’ll be right in the middle of it,” she said. “I can hear everything very loudly — the building shakes. I can see the smoke, and so I know where they’re hitting exactly.”
In 1984 and again in 1991, the IDF air-lifted thousands of Ethiopian jews to Israel under the Law of Return. Called Falashas (strangers) by their neighbors but more properly known as Beta Israel, the immigrants were secretly flown out of famine and rebellion to the Holy Land.
Today in Ethiopia, there is a group of people called the Falash Mora. They are the christian descendants of ethiopian jews who converted out of fear of persecution. They are returning to Isreal now in a much slower process than their relatives the Beta Israel, the Canadian Jewish News reports. The Falash Mora are able to return because of family reunification laws in Israel.
These people will be leaving their dirt-floored huts and their $1US/day jobs for life in the only true liberal democracy in the middle east. It will be a difficult adjustment, but the Israeli ministry of Immigrant Absorption is on the job.
Many of the Falash Mora have converted back to Judaism. They are seen to practise the faith with a strong piety not seen amongst many jews. The chief Rabbi in Israel has declared them as jews, because they originally converted out of fear and persecution.
As with almost everything that occurs in the middle east, the immigrations are controversial. They are certainly taxing on Israel, and as the process drags on, it becomes less and less clear who are really jews and who have taken up the mantle in order to gain entry to Israel.