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American Jews Feel Effects of War in Middle East

Of the nearly 2 million North American Jews -- including 17,000 students -- who expected to travel to Israel this summer, many found themselves caught up amid the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict while others headed toward the fighting to provide moral support.

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    Now, more perspectives from the war zone. Recently we aired the reactions of some Lebanese-Americans caught in Lebanon when the conflict began. Tonight, the views of American Jews who were in Israel during the fighting. NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels reports.


    There, Newark, on time.

  • SPENCER MICHELS, NewsHour Correspondent:

    It was a scene repeated many times in the last few weeks. At San Francisco International Airport, the parents of a 16-year-old girl prepared anxiously to greet her on her return from Israel. High school junior Arielle Sherman, from Marin County, California, stepped off the plane a little weary but entirely upbeat about her trip to the Middle East.

    LORRAINE SHERMAN, Mother of Arielle Sherman: Oh, it's nice to have you here. You look great.


    Oh, you got a tan. You look wonderful.


    She had spent six weeks in Israel, the first part on a summer program called "Let's Go Israel," designed to infuse young American Jews with enthusiasm for the Jewish state. Like many American visitors, she found herself unexpectedly and suddenly in a war zone. But unlike many of them, for Arielle, the war seemed remote, and that was by design of the program organizers.

    ARIELLE SHERMAN, Traveler to Israel: They didn't say it was a war, but they said a problem had broken out in Israel and they started — each night they would tell us what is going on. But the way they made it sound, it didn't sound really bad and we were always in a safe area.


    Even Arielle parents weren't overly worried about her, although they feared for Israel.


    Being an American Jew, a Jewish American, one is aware of the vagaries of Jewish existence and its history. And you have to seal yourself a little bit to be defensive.