It has been promoted as a cutting-edge technological marvel and marketed as the ultimate solution to the misery Israeli civilians experienced facing rocket attacks from Gaza militants. But as the Iron Dome rocket defense system moves into its final stages of development, Israelis are questioning its effectiveness, and American lawmakers are seeking assurances that the system they are poised to fund will indeed be used to protect citizens in the battered Negev city of Sderot, close by Gaza, and not just used to defend military bases.4
When Réka Bodó was 13, she presented her mother with a choice. A rabbi had offered Bodó a bat mitzvah at a Jewish summer camp in Hungary. She told her mother that she could either have the ceremony there or in the city of Budapest, where her mother would be able to attend. Although Bodó’s mother, a non-practicing Jew, disapproved of her daughter’s interest in religion, she was a proud guest at the ceremony in the city’s Frankel Leo Street Synagogue.
For the first time, a Human Rights Watch report on the West Bank is calling on businesses to withdraw from there if they find themselves part of what the study describes as a “two-tier system of laws, rules and services” that favors Jewish settlers at the expense of Palestinians. This is a new move for the organization, whose officials acknowledged that the recommendation shared some unintentional “overlap” with the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel, or BDS, as the campaign is known.5
Will the law allow return, Korrie Xavier wonders, for gay former military service members like her, who left the service only because they had to? Just five years after her bat mitzvah, Xavier joined the Navy as a seaman recruit. She was trained to maintain and fire weapons systems on the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship based in San Diego. She liked the structure, the camaraderie, and sailing to ports from southeast Asia to Abu Dhabi. Barely in her 20s, the Michigan native became the nerve center of Jewish shipboard life — all while hiding her sexuality under her Navy uniform blues.18
On a bed in his tiny shared apartment in Tel Aviv, Mekonen Kefete bares his right leg to illustrate the story of his journey to Israel. It is dotted with dark black marks where red-hot iron bars were cruelly poked into his skin. Kefete, 26, fled his native Eritrea a little more than a year ago, destination unknown, to escape an open-ended draft in the country’s army. After the eight-hour trek from Eritrea to Sudan, he related, traffickers forcibly detained him, ordered him to pay $500, decided that his destination was Egypt’s border with Israel and said they were taking him there.25
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