This Week Today

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 ( and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives ( He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

I am toying with the idea of writing a weekly current events piece. So here's my first installment, based on a class I gave at Aish HaTorah Essentials this week:

I always start the class on the situation outside of Israel and work our way back into the Promised Land.

The Kurds. Appeared unified and held a referendum on independence from Iraq, while in control of the strategic city of Kirkuk. Referendum overwhelmingly passed. Israel was the only country in the world to support Kurdish independence. Iraq threatened to attack, with help of Iran. Iraqi and Iranian forces successfully conquered Kirkuk and other areas previously held by Kurds, with help/lack of resistance from certain Kurdish factions. This was/is very bad for the Kurds. President Barzani has resigned.

Impact: Big victory for Iran/Shiite Islam, big loss for Sunni Islam. loss for Israel and America. Iran now controls land from Iran to the Mediterranean, without any threatening forces along the way, both the Kurds and Isis (both Sunnis) have been neutralized. This is horrible news for Sunnis who will now face the wrath of Iran/Shiite Islam with no protectors at all. Unlikely Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey or any other Sunni country will be able to help, other than to perhaps take more Sunni refugees. Only a matter of time before Iran/Shiite forces turn their attention to Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Only hope for the Sunnis, INCREDIBLY IRONICALLY, is Israel. Didn't seem to materialize with the Kurds yet, but we'll see what the future brings on that front. Keep in mind, the "palestinians" are Sunni.

President Trump. He has problems. Investigations/indictments and crazy North Korea. Distracted. Not in a place to be too active in the Middle East right now. Historically, America distracted leads to Israeli success - think Six Day War/Vietnam. think Maale HaZeitim/Second Gulf War - Jews move into houses on the Mount of Olives while President George W. Bush attacks Iraq. This was a major success for unifying Jerusalem/protecting significant Jewish interests.

Now to Israel.

Palestinian Unity/Gaza Terror Tunnel Bombing. The "palestinian" factions of Fatah/Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas are trying to reconcile. Fatah claimed that part of the deal was that Hamas would no longer attack Israel. Seems like total bs. In order to prove its total bs, Israel aerial bombs a terror tunnel from Gaza - ON ISRAELI TERRITORY!!!. (first time ever). Lo and behold, in addition to Islamic Jihad (name of an actual terror group, not a description of all Muslims), there are hamas operatives present in the tunnel and killed. 12 terrorists killed in total. military loss for hamas/islamic jihad and fatah looks stupid - bad for PA.

Right-wing legislation pile-up. Bills for discussion - Greater Jerusalem, Homesh, Budget. All currently delayed, but inevitable.

Greater Jerusalem: Law proposed to create a much larger Jerusalem municipality, incorporating currently outside Jewish communities - all of which are not currently part of sovereign Israel, like Givat Ze'ev, Beitar, Maale Adumim and others. At the same time removing a large number of arabs from the current municipality and creating new separate municipalities for them to better serve their local needs. The effect would be to increase the percentage of Jews in "Greater Jerusalem". Also seen as a possible backdoor way of annexing these areas to Israel. Would significantly strengthen Jewish Presence in Jerusalem and weaken "palestinian" position - very bad for "two-state solution" which envisioned part of Jerusalem as a capital of "palestine". This would make that very unlikely.

Homesh: A law to repeal the 2005 "disengagement" law which makes it illegal for Jews to be/live in the Gaza Strip and certain areas of the northern Shomron, where Jewish communities previously legally existed and were forcibly destroyed. Repealing this law would theoretically allow Jews to return to all of these areas. This is not currently practical in Gaza, where a serious fence/wall prevents Jews from entering. However, a daily Jewish presence is already maintained at Homesh and could easily be created at Sa-Nur - two of the previously destroyed Jewish communities in the Northern Shomron, in close proximity to other Jewish communities. It would be difficult to justify not allowing Jews to return and rebuild, at least at these 2 communities if the repeal was passed into law. This would be a huge hit to the creation of a "palestinian entity" in the northern Shomron - clearly part of the goal of the original disengagement law. A "palestinian state" becomes much less likely with viable Jewish communiites north of Tapuach (Yitzhar, Itamar, Elon Moreh, Har Bracha) and especially north of Shechem (Shavei Shomron, Homesh and Sa-Nur).

Budget: Specifically this pertains to a section of the budget providing 800 million shekels for the construction of bypass roads in Judea and Samaria. If these roads are built, they will better and more securely connect "isolated" Jewish communities, this will undoubtedly lead to the exponential growth of these communities. (Tekoa would be a perfect past example of this - see here). In short, a death knell to the idea of the "two-state solution" as we know it.

Additionally there are, literally, tens of thousands of residences for Jews awaiting approval throughout Judea, Samaria and all parts of Jerusalem.

All of these laws and plans are simply waiting for Prime Minister Netanyahu (or whoever else) to pull the administrative trigger. The Middle East (Sunni Islam) is in tatters, Iran is rapidly expanding, America is distracted - its no longer a question of if, but when. Oslo is dead, now we are just waiting for the funeral and dividing the inheritance.

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem