Today's Story Line

The Middle East is teetering on the precipice of war - or peace. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israel's Ehud Barak are engaged in high-stakes brinkmanship. They may have pushed too far this time to pull back, as the crisis widens into Lebanon. Or the violence of recent days may give everyone pause to consider whether this is the future they desire. American embassies and consulates in from Morocco to Oman were closed over the weekend as a safety measure. In fact, one Western diplomat in the region says he can't remember a time when American credibility, because of its support for Israel, was so low.

In Yugoslavia, President Vojislav Kostunica is consolidating his control in the wake of last week's revolution. The major parties in the Serbian parliament agreed yesterday to dissolve the assembly and hold elections on Dec. 19.

David Clark Scott World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB..

SERBIAN RAVE: The Monitor's Scott Peterson has covered many political demonstrations, but those in Serbia to oust President Slobodan Milosevic were among the warmest. Rallies were accompanied by pounding rock music that often went well past midnight. Protesters and riot police, particularly this past week, often have a good rapport. Scott has seen Serb women put on red lipstick and kiss the clear plastic riot shields, leaving behind a loving imprint.

This weekend, the usual music was there - this time coming from a stage set up in front of the ransacked parliament building. And in true Serb fashion, one driver stopped his car - blocking traffic - and offered Scott a celebratory swig from a bottle of slivovic, a locally-brewed liquor.

CHARITY UNDER SIEGE: Since the violence between Israelis and Palestinians exploded 12 days ago, The Jerusalem Post newspaper has received many letters about Omri Jadah. As reported on Sept. 22, Mr. Jadah, a Palestinian, drowned rescuing a six-year-old Jewish boy in the Sea of Galilee this August. He left behind two young children and a pregnant widow. In response to a Jerusalem Post story about him, Jewish readers across Israel responded with letters of thanks and donations to help the Jadah family.

Now they are writing to ask the Post to stop helping the Jadah family. "Just as Omri Jadah didn't let politics get in the way of saving a Jewish life, we will not allow politics to get in our way of helping the dependents he left behind," responded Post publisher Tom Rose in an open letter on the newspaper's front page.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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