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....

Happy Fourth of July! (That's something John Oliver might say, but never really mean)

We join the entire (normal) world in praying for the rescue of the boys in Thailand. And like good Jews, we humbly point out that it was donated Israeli technology that allowed them to be found in the first place. 

Things are still quite hot along the Syrian border with Israel. Russian continues to destroy the rebel resistance to Bashar Assad's rule in Syria. To be clear, Assad's army had ZERO chance of ever being able to retake all these areas by themselves. This is totally Russia, and specifically their air force. Tens of thousands of Sunni Syrians have evacuated their villages. Both Israel and Jordan have said that they won't allow them to enter their countries. Although, Israel has continued to help Syrians in need of medical attention. 

Trouble is brewing in the Israeli coalition government. However, it is difficult to know how serious it is and how much is just political posturing. Since the previous law was deemed illegal by the supreme court, the Government must now pass a new law dealing with ultra-orthodox yeshiva student enlistment in the army. Its a bit of a complicated issue, but in short, nothing will change, regardless of any of this. Actually, more ultra-orthodox would go to the army if the issue was just ignored, but that's the last thing the "proponents" of the draft actually want. Its a great political/vote-getting issue for them, but in reality, hundreds or thousands of ultra-orthodox with machine guns would probably scare the hell out of them. 

This could cause national elections to be moved up from the currently scheduled end of 2019. This could potentially have an effect on the Jerusalem mayoral race as the current mayor would probably need to resign to run for the Knesset, as he has said he wants. This would make one of the deputy mayors the mayor and it would be quite weird for the then current mayor not to run for "re-election". This is exactly how the last ultra-orthodox mayor was elected. 

As was mentioned the past few weeks here, the Israeli government has been enforcing demolition rulings from the supreme court for Jews, but not for arabs. Now it finally looks like an illegally built arab/bedouin encampment, located right next to a major highway, will be demolished in the near future. The hundred or so residents have already been allocated separate;plots to build houses in a legal arab village, closer to Jerusalem. Should take all of 15 minutes to knock the place down completely. We will wait and see. Another illegal arab encampment next to Susiya has also been ruled to be demolished. Maybe we'll make it a double-header. 

Something called the World Cup is going on, but I was born in the USA, so whatevs for that. Its some kind of soccer tournament  for poor countries. Happy 4th! 

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem