• A Good Reception : Last week, correspondent Charles Levinson went to the opening day campaign rally of Ayman Nour, the most prominent of nine candidates challenging Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in the September elections. Mr. Mubarak has ruled for 24 years. Over the weekend, Charles went along on the campaign trail with Mr. Nour for today's story (this page). "The thing that is most striking about riding along on Nour's campaign trips are the positive reactions of people, including members of government institutions, they encounter on the way," he says.
For example, at routine Egyptian military checkpoints, soldiers looked on bemused as the Tomorrow Party's campaign bus, emblazoned with a 30-foot-long banner, pulled to a stop. "An old campaign volunteer sitting in the front of the bus, began to immediately lambaste the soldiers for interfering with their campaign activities. When they smiled at her and gave her a thumbs up, she was a bit taken aback," he says.
After a rally in Ismailia, police cars escorted the caravan through town. "Police officers in the car leaned out the window and wished Nour good luck. They even waved a small picture of him," says Charles. "It's a remarkable shift in a country where opposition rallies have typically been banned or broken up by the same security forces."
• Israelis Back Pullout: Israeli public support for the conduct of the police and soldiers during the past week's withdrawal of settlers from Gaza is strong. In a poll conducted for the Yedioth Ahranoth newspaper, 89 percent of Israelis who responded said the security forces had "acted well" or "very well."
Another opinion poll taken by the Dahaf Institute prior to the withdrawal, showed that 59 percent of Israelis supported the plan. Thirty-nine percent opposed it.
David Clark Scott