At the risk of turning this into the all-baggage, all-the-time channel, I can report that fortune seems to have smiled upon me.
At home I found that a cornucopia of luggage had erupted just ahead of my arrival, and my roommates, bless their hearts, had even dragged them in to the foot of the stairs. Thus commenced the Inventorying of the Luggage. There was the battered and destroyed box containing my laptop, miraculously preserved like Han Solo, in a perfect state of hibernation. In fact, I kept on running across these sealed white padded envelopes containing miscellaneous bits of electronics, clearly stuck in wherever there was room as the security team certified them Not A Bomb.
All in all, and to my abject astonishment, there appears to be only one item missing.
That's my laptop charger, which I'd last seen being taken to "another room" for "further testing." I was sure that was code for blowing it up. However, there was a note indicating that it had passed and been checked on its own. Using the provided tag code, the AA office I've been pestering all day determined that this was most likely still in Tel Aviv. This seems to have involved the agent actually calling the Ben Gurion staff in Israel while she kept me on hold. So now AA has a formal request pending that the darn thing be forwarded to Minneapolis with all due haste.
Let's review. El Al: very thorough, more than a little ham-handed, and entirely incompetent to operate the International Baggage Routing System (it probably has a real name, but that's not it). American Airlines: exceedingly patient, at least in the luggage office, and very proactive about tracking down bags they not only didn't lose, but which were misplaced by an airline that doesn't even share its data with them.
Here's an example of creepy El Al thoroughness. The receipt for some souveniers from Bethlehem had been dug out of the bottom of my backpack, and turned up neatly folded in the front pocket. And another. The papers had been removed from my clip-board, obviously flipped through, and stuck loose back into my bag; the major contents of said papers were drafts of my Walls essay. One almost gets the impression that weapons weren't the only thing they were after.
I wonder if El Al had anything to do with my turning up on the TSA Selectee list once I hit Chicago.