This Week Today - Current Events from 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....

The biggest news in Israel right now is the Ethiopian traffic disruption protests. Actually, its not very important at all. If so, why so much attention? Ok, I'll tell y'all, but it should really already be obvious. 

Ethiopians Gone Wild

Earlier this week there was an altercation between a group of Ethiopian young adults and an off-duty policeman relaxing with his family. Real details (as opposed to tons of fake news, more on that soon) are scarce, but the general reported "facts" are that the policeman attempted to stop some kind of altercation. In the course of his efforts, he identified himself as a policeman. This led the situation to dramatically escalate. At some point, supposedly, at least some of the Ethiopians began to attack the policeman's family. The policeman then allegedly fired a shot at the ground, which then ricocheted and struck one of the Ethiopians, killing him. 

Since then, the policeman was arrested, questioned and released to house arrest. This is very common in Israel, even for such incidents. Rumors are circulating that the policeman will be charged with negligent homicide, since he clearly couldn't have meant to kill the guy if he shot at the ground. Regardless, no charges have been officially filed yet. 

Last night, protests by Ethiopians erupted across Israel and seriously disrupted traffic nationwide. These demonstrations included widespread violence against both police and random citizens. After watching some of the videos, its surprising to me that more Ethiopians weren't shot this week. 

One has to ask how such large and widespread protests/disruptions were organized and executed so quickly and efficiently. If you have been following protests in America over the past few years, the answer should be obvious. The one who has clearly and publicly articulated the most logical conclusion so far is none other than former leftist mayor of Jerusalem and current member of Knesset Nir Barkat. Barkat accused the "New Israel Fund" of sponsoring and otherwise pushing these demonstrations. Why would they do this? To weaken the country - that is the main goal of all of their various subversive activities - just like the extreme left in America. All they want to do is destroy and the Ethiopians are just their currently most exploitable pawns. 

After this plot had been exposed and the patience of the police had been stretched to the limit, things were much calmer tonight. Hard to know what comes next. Probably have to see if and with what the officer is eventually charged. Regardless, the US and Israel contemporary parallels continue to astound, even if a good chunk of it is artificially manufactured. 

Iran Talked Smack, Got Smacked

Over the last few weeks, numerous Iranian political and military leaders have been tripping over each other to see who can talk the most smack against both America and Israel. So far, its been reported that President Trump called off a planned attack on Iran. Iran hasn't been as lucky in Syria where Israel just pounded the hell out of some of their positions. At least 16 fatalities have been reported (probably higher) in Israel's most recent attacks on Iranian interests in Syria and damage is described as quite extensive. Syria whined a little about the strikes and fired a missile that hit a Turkish controlled part of Cyprus. A little playground advice: If that's the best they got, they probably shouldn't talk so much smack. Just sayin'. 

Israeli Election Update

Its now pretty much official, again, that there will be national elections in September. Last ditch efforts by allies of Prime Minister Netanyahu to avoid this scenario seem to have reached their unsuccessful end. Of course, as predicted in last week's update, Netanyahu and his allies now claim they did everything possible to avoid this expensive scenario. 

Amir Peretz has once again been elected to lead the Labor Party in the upcoming elections. I wish I could explain his appeal to voters, any voters, even Labor voters. Alas, I have no idea whatsoever! 

Rumors circulated that the "New Right" of Naftali Bennett and Moshe Feiglin's "Zehut" had reached an agreement to run together in a technical partnership (meaning they would split after the election) in the upcoming elections. It appears that these reports were premature. One holdup is who would lead the party: Feiglin wants primaries and Bennett think that its obvious that he should be in charge. Some things never change. Of course Bennett should be in charge...of everything. 

And what about former Justice Minister and Bennett ally Ayelet Shaked? Very quiet. She has said she plans to run. But with "New Right" or "United Right"? Very unclear. But its July now and less than 2 1/2 months until the voting, so these type of things are going to have to start coming together soon. 

General Ofer Winter Rides Again

General Ofer Winter, the religious general originally of the famed Givati Brigade, was just now promoted to command an entire division (the 98th) of the IDF. This is a significant promotion, but made even more significant because of the fact that Winter was insultingly passed over for a similar promotion in the past. The main reason for his was his "overtly religious" statements to his soldiers before they entered Gaza during the most recent conflict there. Many IDF generals tend to quit the army when this kind of thing happens, but Winter accepted a different position and has been rewarded for his perseverance. It was clear to anyone being honest that the shabby treatment of Winter was part of an overall anti-religious agenda promoted by former Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot. Now that Eizenkot is gone, Winter is back and one wonders what other subversive, anti-religious orders by Eizenkot will be reversed. Eizenkot has a good chance of becoming Israel's obama and watching his directives be overturned one after the other. But not if the New Israel Fund has anything to say about it. Israel won't have to wait until November 2020 to find out, likely just til September 2019. 

Happy Rosh Chodesh Tammuz!