Fixing the Potholes

Poor Muayyad Shraim. Ten months ago the 37-year-old physical education teacher was one of Hamas's rising stars. After the Islamist group swept local elections in the West Bank town of Qalqilya last May, he won a seat on the municipal council.

Cash vs. Terror

As they passed over the border, the Palestinian workers had their sweat shirts slung over their shoulders like sacks, each one bulging with Israeli oranges.

Extreme Victory

The polls had barely closed before friends of the henna-bearded Muhammad Abu Tir, 55, began talking him up to be the Palestinian Authority's next Interior minister. "I think I'd be good at it," he told NEWSWEEK at his East Jerusalem home. "I'm qualified." Abu Tir--the victorious Hamas's second-ranked candidate in last week's parliamentary elections and a onetime leader in the militant Islamist group's armed wing--has plenty of firsthand experience with law enforcement.

Everything's Coming Up...

It is one of President Bush's favorite applause lines. "Freedom isn't America's gift to the world," he repeats in speech after speech. "It is God's gift to mankind." And I, George W.

Militants and Moderates

Firas Ammar isn't buying the campaign slogans. On this cold and cloudy Election Day in the West Bank--as Palestinians stream to the polls to cast their first ballots in 10 years for a Palestinian legislature--the 34-year-old barber stands outside a Ramallah polling station with his hands stuffed into his pockets.

Molding the Message

It was billed as a "media blitz"--at least by the media itself. But the Bush administration's focus on the domestic eavesdropping program doesn't really work as a PR exercise.

Larger Than Life

There are few corners of Jerusalem more loyal to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon than Mahaneh Yehuda, the city's main outdoor produce market. Almost every wall is plastered with Sharon's colorful election posters, and its winding lanes are a can't-miss whistlestop for right-wing politicians during campaign season.So when news reached the market Thursday morning that Sharon had suffered what doctors were calling a "significant stroke"--almost certain to end Sharon's political career--the...

Lebanon: Sniffing Out Assassins

Samir Kassir slouched in his chair and glanced out the window of his office above Martyr's Square in Beirut. A month earlier, the vast plaza was choked with almost a million flag-waving demonstrators protesting the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Dangers in Damascus

For a Syrian, Samir Nashar is close to being a dream democrat. He's liberal, secular, rich--and brazenly outspoken. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has "lost his credibility," Nashar boldly told a NEWSWEEK reporter who visited him recently at his home in Aleppo.

On The Beach

Nabil Kafarneh blames "mysterious elements" for the fire that destroyed his nightclub five years ago. Its location on the Gaza Strip's Mediterranean coast made the Appointment a popular spot for Arab tourists, raking in more than $30,000 a month, a fortune in Gaza.

Mahmoud Zahar

As Israel completed its historic withdrawal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip last week, the streets of Palestinian Gaza were already filling up with neon green banners from the Islamist group Hamas, declaring: gaza is the beginning.

THE END OF A DREAM

The first Zionist pioneer of the Ben-Zvi family was Moshe. In 1918, he emigrated from Austria aboard a ship that took him to Lebanon. According to family lore, Moshe was robbed of his wallet almost as soon as he got off the boat, and walked penniless to the Holy Land.

JAMES WOLFENSOHN

James Wolfensohn arrived in Gleneagles, Scotland, last Thursday, hoping to press G8 leaders for billions of dollars in aid for the Palestinian territories.

MARSHALING HIS FORCES

When Gen. Michel Aoun returned to Lebanon from 15 years in exile last month, few expected he would make much of a political impact. But the 70-year-old Maronite Christian politician surprised his critics last week, winning a landslide victory in the third round of parliamentary elections.

Waiting for Democracy

Natan Sharansky became a celebrity in Washington, D.C., earlier this year after President George W. Bush endorsed his second book, "The Case for Democracy." But Sharansky is not always so popular in his own nation of Israel.

Flexing Their Muscles

Layla Abuahghali raises an eyebrow as she squeezes her way into a crowded sandlot in Rafah, a Gaza Strip city of 175,000 Palestinians just across the border from Egypt.

The Shadow of Syria

For 10 years, Mahassen Faddoul's downstairs neighbors were Syrian spies. The men moved in after she and her family fled Hammana, a village east of Beirut, during the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s.

HOW HAMAS WINS VOTERS

Imad Awad stands toward the back of Bethlehem's Manger Square, where a few hundred supporters of the Islamist group Hamas have gathered in advance of the town's municipal elections next month.

'No Room for Neutralities'

In American lives, F. Scott Fitzgerald once remarked, "there are no second acts." But in Israel, the same familiar characters return in scene after scene.

UPDATING THE HOLOCAUST

Avner Shalev tried to keep it real. The director of Jerusalem's recently renovated Holocaust History Museum, Yad Vashem, never liked the Disneyland feel of some rival exhibitions.

Media: Life as a 'Reality Show'

To go live, or not? That was the dilemma at the 10 a.m. news meeting of Future Television, the Beirut-based cable network once-owned by slain former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Guns Or Ballots?

During the first week of March, Lebanon's political opposition seemed to hold the world in its hand. Galvanized by the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Harari, the opposition's mix of Christian, Druse and Sunni Muslim supporters held several high-energy rallies in Beirut's Martyrs' Square, demanding that Syria pull its troops out of the country and stop meddling in Lebanese affairs.

A Militant's Allegiance

Zakaria Zubeidi is a wanted man. As soon as he steps out the door of a concrete apartment block into the hardscrabble lanes of the Jenin refugee camp, he is besieged.

THE INAUGURAL: SUPER T'S SUPER GIG

If you're looking for a ticket into the First Family's good graces, you might take a lesson from Tyrone Smith, the Nashville-based wedding singer otherwise known as Super T.

Now For the Hard Part

But the excitement was short-lived. In the middle of Abu Mazen's speech, people started to turn around and leave. The initial burst of emotion had been impressive, especially for the straight-laced former schoolteacher whose own supporters concede is not the most charismatic of leaders.

DIMEBAG'S LAST WALTZ

Darrell (Dimebag) Abbott was known around the heavy-metal world for his scary stage persona. The burly lead guitarist for a group called Damageplan adorned his body with leather and tattoos, and wore a scraggly goatee he often dyed red.

Travel: Good Times In The Skies

Cancellations, sour flight attendants, legroom fit for a 10-year-old: you've heard it all a million times. Airlines are the companies consumers love to hate.

Q&Amp;A: 'Nothing Easy About This'

Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, 52, is the American ground forces commander in Iraq. A Gulf War vet who has commanded the Army's First Cavalry Division, McKiernan now shuttles between his rear headquarters in Kuwait's Camp Doha, and Saddam's Abu Ghurayb North palace, near Baghdad's international airport.

Fishing In Saddam's Moat

After 14 days in the desert with no beds, toilets or showers, the troops of the Third Infantry Division were delighted to move into the sprawling Baghdad compound known as Presidential Palace North.Infantrymen from the division pushed their way in to the main building through a gaping hole in the back of the beige palace complex earlier this week.

Who Do You Trust?

Friend or foe? Staff Sgt. Andrew Sorenson can't tell. A blue sedan speeds down the road toward him, weaving through the column of American tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.

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