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....

This Week Today

Current Events from Israel

The biggest news in Israel this week is....Nike. Just kidding. See how silly that sounds. Like in southside Chicago and at the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, we actually have very serious things going on. (Although not as violent here.) 


Everyone is still waiting for Assad to attack. One problem is that Hezbollah has quit and gone back to Lebanon. Seems they aren't getting along with the Iranian bosses, so they packed up their toys and went home. This is a pretty big problem for Assad because if the civil war has proven anything, its that his soldiers can't really conquer much on their own. The other problem is President Trump. He has publicly warned Assad against attacking the rebels and civilians in Idlib. To add to the drama, a report came out this week from some controversial US journalist that President Trump had planned to assassinate Assad for using chemical weapons. Like everyone who deliberately bought Nike gear today, surely Assad is wishing Obama was still president. 

Khan Al-Amar (illegal bedouin encampment):

Its over. At least legally. There are no more appeals. In a little over a week from now, the illegal bedouin encampment of Khan Al-Amar, located just east of Jerusalem, will most likely be destroyed. No practical way around it. The same folks that cheered when Jewish communities were destroyed over the past few years will be no doubt crying their eyes out. Won't help.  

Important to point out that the folks who fear this law enforcement action are totally right to be distraught (similar to the very real fears of those opposing Justice Kavanaugh's certain confirmation and its eventual judicial ramifications in the US). This will allow the neighboring Jewish community of Kfar Adumim to expand and will allow for Jewish contiguity from Maale Adumim to Jericho. Not a great development for their political schemes. And it only gets worse from here. 

Alot more Jews in Beit Hanina:

Jews have been living in the predominately arab norther Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina for years - 8 families and some single guys to be exact. However, that's going to change soon. Today the planning commission approved the construction of 75 Jewish residences in the neighborhood. (They also approved the construction of 75 other residences for arabs as well.)  There's some more bureaucracy to go before actual construction begins, but this is Israel, so of course there is. 

While all building for Jews in Jerusalem is important, this is especially strategic. First, its obviously a dramatic increase in Jewish population in the area from previously minuscule numbers. More importantly, Beit Hanina is the gateway to a major connection to palestinian authority controlled Ramallah. It begins a virtually continuous stretch of contiguous arab presence from Jerusalem to the north. Breaking up this homogeneous arab population with even a smattering of Jews is quite significant and only the beginning. There is more to come further north in Atarot as well. (and maybe even farther north in Kfar Akab)​

Quacky Paraguay:

I always like to try to add a little humor to the update and there are few countries more humorous than Paraguay. After being one of the first countries to move their embassy to Jerusalem recently, they have now decided to move it back to tel aviv. This has caused Prime Minister Netanyahu to officially invoke the diplomatic injunction of "no backsies". He also closed the Israeli embassy in whatever the name of the capital of Paraguay is. One can not underestimate how incredibly irrelevant this diplomatic snafu could amount to. Without Paraguay, nothing really seems lost. 

Its been an amazing year! Shana Tova! 

Ben Packer

Old City of Jerusalem