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

Heating up real fast in Syria. It appears that the Syrian Government and their Russian allies will soon be attacking the northeast Idlib Province - the last holdout of sunni rebel forces. A large russian naval force has been deployed into the Mediterranean and ground forces within Syria are on the move. This could be quite bloody. Hezbollah (shiite, iran-sponsored) has opted out for now and its unclear how Turkey (sunni), supporters of the rebels, will respond to any serious violent hostilities.

In the end, its hard to imagine a situation where the rebels win or even survive this final assault. Such an outcome would leave Bashar Assad in charge of all of Syria once again - except the eastern border with Iraq, where there are American forces, Kurds and the remaining ISIS losers - possibly including their leader Al-Baghdadi.

If the sunni rebel threat is completely eliminated, there still remains the question as to whether Iranian/shiite forces will remain in Syria. Israel is very, very opposed to this. There have been many meetings about this at the highest levels. Its hard to see why Assad would allow Iran to stay and get hit by Israel over and over again. Alot of change could be coming - just in time for Rosh Hashanah!

Always looking for trouble. This week Iran decided to declare complete control over the Straits of Hormuz, which leads into the Persian Gulf. This is where a large chunk of the world's oil comes from. Now, nothing really changed on the ground (in the water), just a statement was made. US officials have been clear that there is no validity to Iran's claims and very unfortunately for Iran, obama is no long president.

"Mitzpeh Kramim" neighborhood court decision:
The Jerusalem District Court ruled yesterday that the "Mitzpeh Kramim" neighborhood of the Jewish Community of Kochav HaShachar in the Binyamin region will not be destroyed and instead will be legalized. The reason for this is that the neighborhood was originally established in cooperation with the Israeli military and other Israeli government agencies. Under a new law recently passed by the Knesset, communities established in "good faith" will not be destroyed even if it is later proven to be privately owned. If owners are actually able to prove legal ownership, they will be compensated generously. (125% of the value) This could set a legal precedent for many other Jewish-owned houses in the disputed areas. The right is elated, the left sunk further into depression. Sound familiar.

No "right of return":
The Trump Administration, including Amb. to the UN Nikki Haley, have been suggesting this week that the "right of return" of "palestinian" "refugees" be dropped from the peace process negotiations between Israel and the "palestinians" and that the UN refugee agency (UNWRA) be defunded. This idea that palestinians that left Israel in 1948 and all other their living descendants will "return" to Israel has been a central palestinian demand of all negotiations ever. (Keep in mind that over 800,000 Jews were expelled from muslim countries at the time as well)

This comes after the Trump Administration previously claimed to have taken Jerusalem off the negotiating table as well. The arabs are none too pleased. In reality, of course this "right of return" was never going to happen, so Trump is just cutting through the bs. Everyone still awaits his much anticipated peace plan - no more info on that as of now. If only Trump could pay some folks to go away. Maybe all these reports are just foreshadowing for what's coming. One can dream.

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem