This Week Today - Current Events in Israel

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

Let's jump right in. The big news this week is actually more regional than domestic. Turkey has attacked northwest Syria (an area called Afrin) in an attempt to massacre and displace the Kurdish forces (known as the YPG) in the area. Just south of this area is the Idlib area that is that last possibly viable area controlled by the Syrian Rebels - these are sunni arab muslims, the kurds are also sunni, but aren't arabs, the Turks are sunni as well, but Turkish. Hope that's not too confusing. In short, they have the same religion, but different languages and cultures.

Anyway, not only are the Turks attacking, but they are actively instigating the Syrian rebels to attack the Kurds as well from the south. The idea being that the rebels will then control the area and can continue their conflict with the Syrian regime. Of course, the Syrian regime hasn't agreed to any of this and if the rebels and the Turks are successful in displacing the Kurds, then the regime will most likely then attempt to displace the rebels and finish them off for good. If successful, this would return all the borders to the way they were before the Syrian civil war erupted 6 years ago. This would leave the problem of the millions of arab sunni refugees from syria having nowhere to return to in Syria. Turkey would like to toss them all back into syria to the captured Afrin area. No idea why the Syrian regime (with Russia and Iran) would ever let that happen. 

For now, hard to say exactly what is happening on the ground, but it appears its not going as well for the Turks as they expected and are publicly reporting. If the Kurds can somehow hold them off, that would be quite impressive and could return momentum to the Kurdish people everywhere (in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey) that was lost when the Kurdish city of Kirkuk fell to Iraqi and Shiite forces months ago. 

Nobody likes chaos like ISIS, so don't count them out just yet. Definitely more drama to come! 

Moving over to Israel, Israel welcomed Vice-President Mike Pence this week. As was expected, the visit when splendidly. Pence visited the Western Wall, a first by a sitting vice-president, spoke in the Knesset and emphatically recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as Trump did a short time ago. The "palestinians" boycotted Pence and the Israeli arab members of the Knesset disrupted his speech before they were forcibly removed. I'm sure that spectacle deeply impressed President Trump. Quite the downward spiral for the palestinians. 

Last week, we mentioned the unauthorized community of Havat Gilad and the potential of it being formally legalized. Hasn't happened yet, but this week, Naftali Bennett has publicly demanded that this take place this coming Sunday at the cabinet meeting. He claims that all the necessary steps have been approved and all that's left is a formal cabinet decision. 

"legallyit has been approved. Security-wise, it has been approved. Now we need a political decision," Bennett told Arutz Sheva."  (see full article here)

So we'll see what happens on Sunday. Would be a huge victory for the Shomron (Samaria) region and some consolation for the widow and orphans of terror victim Rabbi Shevach of Havat Gilad. 

The investigations into Prime Minister Netanyahu and leaks from those investigations continue. Nothing very new.

Despite continued friction between Avigdor Lieberman and Judaism, the current Israeli coalition government continues to be quite stable. Although there was a hilarious event this week when some leftist singer made fun of Lieberman's Russian accent and Lieberman's comrades demanded he be charged with racism. This guy thinks he's Putin. He ain't no Putin. Putin don't charge people with crimes, they just disappear. 

Cold and rainy all over the country right now, so that's good for filling up the Kinneret and water reserves. Also not great weather for terrorism, so its good news all around. 

Shabbat Shalom! 

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem



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