This Week Today - Current Events from Israel

Ben Packer,

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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....


Its over. Well, at least for now and only along the Golan Heights border with Israel. There is still plenty of former Syria that is not currently under Syrian Government control and its unlikely this will change any time soon. Why not you ask? Because Turkey is not too keen to give up the area they have occupied in the Northwest of Syria along with their fellow Sunni crazy friends in the Idlib Province - also in the Northwest. And America and their Kurdish allies are not too keen to turn over Eastern Syria to Assad either. Nonetheless, big accomplishments for Assad and the Syria Gov't this week in Southern Syria. Keep in mind, NONE of this would have been possible without Russia and specifically their aerial bombs blowing the hell out of the rebels and allowing Assad's forces to waltz (or whatever dance the Syrians do. the Keke? Kiki Challenge?) into formerly held rebel territory. No real problems with Israel so far, but hard to believe Iran will let that go forever. 


Same old. See last week's post. 

Kfar Teimanim/The Yemenite Village (Silwan):

There was a festive dedication ceremony today at the Yemenite Village. (can be watched here)

Background: About 130 years ago, a large group of Yemenite Jews moved to Israel and settled just outside the Old City of Jerusalem in an area that became known as Kfar Teimanim (Yemenite Village). Originally they lived in caves, but later built houses and a Synagogue complex. In the 1930's the arabs violently rioted. The british evacuated the Yemenite Jews and promised they'd be able to go back when things settled down. So that didn't happen. And the local arabs destroyed pretty much everything. But not the Synagogue, they moved into that. In the past couple of years, Ateret Cohanim was able to evict the arab squatters from the former Synagogue complex and reclaim it. A small part of the building has already been restored and is in use. Now the Israeli Government had decided to fund some of the work to restore the rest of the complex. Today was a celebration of that decision and the commencement of work on the site. (more background here)

Why is this important?: Because any time a Synagogue is destroyed and then restored its important. However, this is of particular geo-political importance. In previous "peace negotiations", when Israel offered the arabs areas of Jerusalem, where this Synagogue and renewed community are located was part of that area. And now, its incredibly unlikely that Israel would ever leave this area. The restored Synagogue, 20 Jewish families living there - with more coming soon - its just a non-starter. But the arabs turned down the previously more generous proposals. Yeah, so either there is no chance for a deal or its will be a very different deal than was previously proposed. That's how these things work. As we say, they can go drink from the sea in Gaza. (Except they can't actually because there is a blockade on gaza, land and sea...) 

Nationality law:

Alot of whining continues over the new law in Israel that codifies Israel as the Jewish State. In general, this is quite the pathetic display, but important to understand the dynamic: Forces outside of Israel are pressuring/paying segments of the population inside of Israel to oppose this legislation because they don't like the idea of Jewish State. Sound familiar? This ain't just a current event, its been going on for a quite a while. 

Additionally, it seems in order to pass the law, a deal may have been made with the Hareidim to amend the draft law proposal. Wonder why the Government seems so stable recently - it ain't luck. 

And Tzipi Livni is back in charge of the "Opposition" in the Knesset. Bibi couldn't be happier. 

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem