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....

This Week Today

Current Events from Israel

Exciting week in the Middle East! A little on the boring side in Israel and that is just fine! 

ISIS Leader is Dead. Killed like a Dog by a "Beautiful Dog" 

I'm sure most folks already know the details on this one, but it must be mentioned that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder and caliph of ISIS, died this week when he detonated a suicide bomb vest he was wearing after being chased by an American military dog and army personnel into a tunnel. Al-Baghdadi had been hiding in northwest Syria - not in eastern Syria/western Iraq, which had been publicly suspected as his most likely hiding spot.  

Like I said, the details are well known and if you haven't seen President Trump's speech about it, then you're really missing out on what life has to offer. The man knows how to gloat. When Bin Laden was killed, I thought Obama was going to cry during his speech. 

Here are the important questions for now:

-Who will lead ISIS now and how will it be different/remain relevant?

-How seriously involved were the Kurds in helping the US locate al-Baghdadi?

-How involved was Turkey/Islamist allies in helping to hide al-Baghdadi?

-Will the democrats ever give President Trump credit for anything? 

Arab Spring #2?

This week saw huge protests in both Lebanon and Iraq. These are both countries with split Sunni/Shiite populations. The protests are ostensibly about unfair economic and tax policies, but are actually quite sectarian and reflect the dissatisfaction of Sunnis and other minorities with the relatively recently domination of Shiite rule in both countries. Of course Iran (through hezbollah in Lebanon and their various Shiite militia proxies in Iraq) is heavily involved in all the drama. 

So far, the concrete results of the protests are that the Prime Minister of Lebanon has resigned and many protesters have been killed in Iraq. Basically the Shiites in Iraq and Lebanon have enjoyed ruling over the Sunnis, but at the same time maintaining some level of legitimacy through cooperation with certain Sunni/other minority leaders. It now looks like that mirage is ending.  What's next? You never know, but more killing is always a solid bet. Basically, either the Shiites need to find a way to re-establish the collaboration with the Sunnis/other minorities or kill them. Welcome to the Middle East! 

Another concern is that Iran will seek to distract everyone from all this drama by attacking Israel. Israel  has publicly taken precautions against this and its hard to believe that Iran would take such a huge risk. But they've done dumber things, so.....

Speaking of Genocide...

This week the US House of Representatives passed a resolution recognizing what is called the "Armenian Genocide". This is the massacre of approximately 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks (and Kurds) in the early 1900's - before, during and after World War 1. This is not the first time such a non-binding resolution on the matter has been passed by Congress, but its definitely a shot at Turkey, who ridiculously steadfastly maintains that none of this ever happened. Remarkably, most of the world goes along with the Turkish denial narrative (including Israel!). And by "remarkably", I mean obscenely. Of course the Germans observed the Armenian genocide and learned many lessons from it that they would later implement in the future. 

Regardless of the horrific nature of the topic, the specific savagery has very little to do with why the resolution was passed at this time. Its undoubtedly a message to the Turks to not try to repeat their past atrocities, only this time, ironically, on the Kurds in northern Syria. So far, small skirmishes are ongoing between the Turkish forces/allies and the Syrian soldiers. Alot of waiting and seeing going on. 

Israel Government Coalition Negotiations

Nada. Zero. Zilch. Now that the Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party is conducting negotiations to form a coalition government, nothing much is happening. There have been a few meetings with the Likud leaders representing the entire right-wing bloc and one with Avigdor Lieberman, but otherwise, nothing doing. Everyone waiting for the Attorney General's decision on whether to indict Prime Minister Netanyahu or not. If he doesn't, you'll see scenes of angry leftists very similar to when President Trump was elected. But don't get your hopes up on that. Probably going to be indictments. 

Famed Professor Calls for Official Investigation into Who Killed Rabin

With the anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin approaching, Professor Mordechai Kedar gave a speech this week and tore open Pandora's Box. He stated straight out that Yigal Amir, who has been solitary confinement for almost 25 years after having been convicted of the assassination, did not kill Rabin and that the initials of the person who did are Y.R. Kedar went on to say that the killer was sent by others who are very powerful. Response has been swift and harsh. Prime Minister Netanyahu condemned the remarks and Professor Kedar has been summoned to a disciplinary hearing at Bar Ilan University, where he has been lecturing for many years. (And ironically where Yigal Amir was studying at the time of the assassination.) Hard to see how this ends well for Kedar in the short-term, but the long-term is a different story. I don't work for Bar Ilan University, so I can easily say that many, if not most, people know that Kedar is on to something. We'll now see how successfully this can be quashed. But keep in mind, one person saying something shouldn't matter, unless everyone knows its probably true. Isn't the truth refreshing!