The 17th Maccabiah games, or "Jewish Olympics" is underway in Israel, with some 7,000 Jewish athletes from 55 countries participating. The turnout is far better than it was four years ago in the height of the Palestinian terror war, when suicide bombings and shooting attacks were happening almost every day. "Four years ago, we were in the midst of a murderous terrorist campaign aimed at breaking our spirit," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said at the opening ceremony. "Today as well, as the Israeli public faces tough challenges...your arrival signifies the bond between all the Jewish communities, with Israel at the center. “ But now Israel is facing internal turmoil with the controversial Gaza pullout just five weeks away. In a sign of the times, Sharon gave his Maccabiah speech behind bullet proof glass.
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