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September 2006





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Syria's Delicate Balancing Act

PlayPump Project Receives Major U.S. Funding

After the War, Israel Takes Stock



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Syria's Delicate Balancing Act

Traffic police on motorbikes parked at a busy intersection.

Syrian traffic police display their support for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in downtown Damascus.

No one puts to the test the Bush administration's post-9/11 "You're either with us or against us" foreign policy challenge quite like Syria. After a month of flaunting its support for Hezbollah, the Syrian regime turned around last week and foiled a terrorist plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Damascus.

It had me, and probably many young Arabs, asking, "What's it to be, Syria? Are you with the United States or against it?"

I had a chance to visit Syria last month to search for some answers.

With the war raging next door in Lebanon, there was a sense of quiet exhilaration on the streets of Damascus. Hezbollah was on parade -- their bright yellow flags hung in storefronts and car windows and around the necks of particularly devoted fans. The ancient streets of Bab Touma echoed with the sounds of "resistance songs" playing out of pirated-CD shops. I even saw some young boys having "Hassan Nasrallah," the name of Hezbollah's leader, drawn on their cheeks and foreheads at the face-painting booth of a children's party.

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PlayPump Project Receives Major U.S. Funding

Bill, Clinton, Laura Bush, Steve and Jean Case on stage in New York.

Bill Clinton with First Lady Laura Bush and Steve and Jean Case at the the annual Clinton Global Initiative Conference held in New York on September 20.

You may remember our heart-warming story about social entrepreneur Trevor Field and his PlayPump water project in South Africa. We broadcast the story on FRONTLINE/World back in May -- if you missed it, you can watch it on our Web site. Today in New York, Field received an enormous boost to his project when First Lady Laura Bush and former president Bill Clinton announced a multimillion-dollar grant to build more PlayPumps -- the child-powered merry go-rounds Field pioneered that pump clean drinking water to rural communities in South Africa.

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After the War, Israel Takes Stock

Young men at a protest camp in Jerusalem.

Reservists recently returned from the war in Lebanon set up an anti-government protest camp in Jerusalem.

An eerie silence fell on south Lebanon and the north of Israel when the first days of the cease-fire came into force. After more than 30 days, people in the northern Israeli towns of Keryat Shmona, Safed and Nahariya walked the streets freely. Shops began to reopen. Israeli and Lebanese refugees filled the roads on their way back to what was left of their homes. Many Lebanese didn't have a home to go back to.

Over the next four days, both countries buried their dead. Then the first Israeli reservists were released from service. Most of them went straight home. But some, like Ronny Zvigenbaum, 27, and Asaf Davidov, 28, marched to the prime minister's office, along with other troops from their regiment. They held up signs reading "Citizens of Israel, our brothers, we must get out of the bubble" and "Olmert, Peretz, Halutz -- take responsibility."

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