Today's Story Line

In basketball terms, there's a full-court diplomatic press on in the Middle East. A flurry of UN-orchestrated meetings are occurring between Syrian, Lebanese, Israeli, and Palestinian leaders. The experts say that despite the continued street battles in Israeli and Palestinian territory, the fighting isn't likely to escalate into war. A prisoner exchange, for example, could reduce tensions. But one of the casualties could be the Oslo peace accord.

David Clark Scott World editor


SUBURBAN WAR PREP: The Monitor's Cameron Barr and Nicole Gaouette say that there's a surreal quality to the talk of war in Israel. Most Israelis are isolated from the violence. "Our neighbors are still watering their geraniums and going to the club to swim in suburban Jerusalem," says Nicole. "But the elderly lady next door is also giving us advice on where to stock up on groceries. And we're being asked if our gas masks fit." One Palestinian friend recommended that they shop in East Jerusalem, not in West Jerusalem, because of the risk of terrorist attacks.

RED CROSS CONNECTION: Journalists often turn to international relief organizations for insights into current conflicts. When those organizations pull out of areas, the countries often lose more than just immediate relief; they lose valuable intermediaries and skills. Reporter Timothy Pratt recalls that when 180 Colombians were held hostage in a church last year, he contacted the Red Cross daily. "They were taking care of the hostages as they were released. It was a massive operation. But the aid workers were cool, professional, and well-organized. In a country where the state institutions are so weak, the Red Cross is impressively effective," says Tim.

FOUR DUTCHMEN FREE: The people's revolution in Yugoslavia has changed the political and judicial climate. A Yugoslav court Oct. 9 freed four Dutchmen in prison since July on suspicion of plotting to assassinate former President Slobodan Milosevic. "I still cannot believe it. We are still alive," Bas van Schaik said on leaving the court. "We were treated well under the circumstances." As reported on Aug. 7, the four self-styled amateur "weekend warriors" had denied accusations (and televised "confessions") they were sent by Western intelligence agencies to murder Milosevic.

"The judge decided there was no evidence to indict them," said Zoran Jovanovic, one of the men's lawyers. "They let them go, and this was obviously connected to the political situation here."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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