ing in downtown Jerusalem, injecting
Here and there, an elderly Russian
life into the city."
immigrant, a musician turned mendi-
Segev, along with several hundred
cant, might break the monotony with
students, is now doing something
the sound of a violin or an accordion. A
about it by launching a volunteer
young, visibly pregnant woman walks
group called New Spirit,
the streets distributing
which aims to bring students
booklets with the blessings
An Israeli border
back to Jerusalem's streets.
of Rabbi Nachman of
The group is engaged in a
female soldier keep
number of projects. An
Border policemen have
helped bring a sense of
guard on Jaffa Road apprenticeship program con-
nects students to economic
renewed security to the
and high-tech projects in
area, but there are no cus-
tomers for Yossi Cohen.
Economics and business-
administration students serve as guides
for high-school students in "business"
projects to create early ties between the
Yakir Segev, 26, who attended the
younger generation of Jerusalem resi-
Student Day festivities at Mount
Scopus, said he didn't see it as a moment dents and Jerusalem's business commu-
for celebration. "Look at those stu-
Subsidized student housing is provid-
dents," he said. "They should not be
ed in Jerusalem's poorer neighborhoods
here. I would like to see them celebrat-
Left• President Bush, standing next
to AIPAC president-elect Bernice
Manocherian, addresses AIPAC's
annual policy conference in
Washington on May 18.
front of the friendly audience.
"Freedom-loving people did not seek
this conflict," he said. "It has come to
us by the choices of violent men,
Bush linked the Iraq invasion with
the war on terrorism and stability in
the Middle East, suggesting that U.S.
resolve in Iraq could effect change in
Syria and Iran.
He sounded a similar message
when discussing the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict. Bush alluded to
the escalating violence in the Gaza
Strip, where attacks claimed the lives
of 13 Israeli soldiers last week and
hundreds of Palestinians have been
made homeless by Israeli house dem-
"The unfolding violence in the
Gaza Strip is troubling and under-
scores the need for all parties to seize
every opportunity for peace," he said.
Bush reiterated his view that Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's prom-
ised withdrawal from Gaza and parts
of the West Bank was a "bold"
opportunity for progress, and called
on all parties to renounce violence,
fight terrorism and embrace democ-
"Our vision is a Middle East where
borders are crossed for purposes of
trade and commerce, not crossed for
the purposes of murder and war,"
Bush said. "This vision is within our
grasp if we have the faith and the
courage and the resolve to achieve it."
He also committed to working
with Europe to fight international
anti-Semitism and praised AIPAC
members for their contribution to the
war against terrorism. "In a danger-
so students can help local
youth with educational
activities. "I could have
stayed at the student dor-
mitories on Mount
Scopus," said Osnat
Berman, who coordinates
youth activities in
neighborhood. "But I
chose to live here, and I
don't regret it for a
moment. By now, I feel
that I'm part of the
Berman lives with two
roommates in a three-bedroom apart-
ment partly subsidized by the American
Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
New Spirit has linked its social and
educational work in the neighborhood
with other social groups such as the
"Democratic Education Fountain," the
secular version of a Shas-run education-
al project called El Hama'ayan.
"Forty thousand students can change
the face of the city," Segev said. "If
every student would contribute two
hours a day to the welfare of the socie-
ty, Jerusalem could change drastically."
Segev knows a lot about volunteer-
ing: Exempt from military service
because he lost his left arm in a traffic
accident as a child, he nevertheless vol-
unteered for the army. In the army,
being a "jobnik" — a paper-pusher —
was not enough for him. At night, he
would join combat soldiers, training for
hours as he struggled to handle a rifle
with one arm. Eventually, he joined
them, ending his military service a year
and a half ago as commander of an
elite commando unit.
New Spirit's founder was Nir Barkat,
who lost the Jerusalem mayoral election
last year. "The organization aims at
coping with emigration from
Jerusalem, mostly by turning the stu-
dents' potential into an effective factor
in the city," Barkat said.
Barkat, 44, is a high-tech multi-mil-
lionaire who has vowed to run again
for mayor in the next elections. He
already has garnered the support of a
number of influential donors, includ-
ing Harvey Kruger, former chairman of
the Hebrew University Board of
"These students have interests that
are so important for Israel and for the
future of Jerusalem, that they have to
be helped," Kruger said after meeting
with the students last week.
Sidon, however, remains skeptical.
"As long as there is not even a train
which would run froth Jerusalem to Tel
Aviv in 20 minutes, there is no choice
for people like me but to leave the
city," he said.
Sidon says Jerusalem needs much
more than student volunteer work to
succeed. "If the city becomes charedi,
I have no problem with that, but if
you want to preserve its secular char-
acter as well, one needs to do some-
thing about it."
ous new century, your work is more
vital than ever," he said. "I thank you
for doing your part in the cause of
The adulation was overwhelming
for a chief executive whom many in
the room did not vote for three years
ago. Early in his remarks, when Bush
could not complete a sentence above
the crowd's roar, he smiled and said,
"I'm just getting warmed up."
had embraced him.
Bush's presence at the event was
noteworthy: In the past, the adminis-
tration has been careful not to aggra-
vate Arab perceptions of pro-Israel
clout in Washington, and this was
only Bush's second speech to a Jewish
audience since taking office in
But the administration and Bush's
re-election campaign have empha-
sized his record on Israel in recent
months, hoping to galvanize Jewish
support in several key states with
large Jewish populations, such as
Florida, Pennsylvania and Arizona.
Vice President Dick Cheney traveled
to South Palm Beach, Fla., May 14
and sent a similar message to the local
Jewish federation there, with American
and Israeli flags as his backdrop.
Even before Bush entered the room,
attendees pumped their hands in
applause. Trying to introduce Bush,
Amy Friedkin, AIPAC's outgoing
president, was halted after almost
every sentence by ovations.
Friedkin said Bush had "walked the
walk" by standing up for Israel, work-
ing to protect it from terrorism and
isolating Palestinian Authority
President Yasser Arafat when others
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