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....

 Shana tova! Happy New Year! Welcome to 5779!

Closure of the PA Mission in Washington, D.C.

The big news this week actually happened on Rosh Hashanah! Somebody forgot to tell President Trump and the other few non-Jews on staff that they could take off those days. Instead of taking off those days, President Trump ordered the closure of the "Palestinian mission" in Washington, D.C. One of the main conditions required for the mission to be open was the advancement of the "peace process". That's not happening, so Trump shut it down. 

The mission was opened in 1994 after the Oslo Accords were signed. Its hard to say how a big a deal this will actually be, but losing your spot in DC is pretty bad for the arabs. They must be huffing and puffing more than Hurricane Florence right about now. Over the past 2 years, many analysts and politicians have been declaring  the death of the "oslo peace process" and it would seem that the "palestinian mission" in DC is now another casualty of that apparent demise. 

Unclear how the "palestinian authority" will respond. Diplomacy? Unlikely. Rage? Oh yeah. Probably at least threaten some terrorism. 

Missiles fired from Iran at Kurds in Iraq

Closer to home in the Middle East, serious drama in Iran and Iraq. (Shocking!) Now, most folks don't know this, but in addition to Iraq, Syria and Turkey, Kurds also live in northern Iran. And they don't get along with the government. (Shocking!) Recently they have stepped up their campaign to carve out a Kurdish independent area. Of course these Kurds are in cahoots with the Kurds in northern Iraq. This reality was not appreciated by Iranian authorities and this week, acting on insider info, they shot real-deal precision ballistic missiles from Iran into Iraq and killed many Kurdish leaders who were gathered for what was supposed to be a secret meeting. 

So far, international and even regional reactions are quite muted, if not totally silent. However, hard to see how this can be completely ignored forever. By everyone. Certainly the Kurds will be out for revenge, but they got alot on their plate. 

Needless to say, anything provocative that Iran does is a threat to Israel. This very successful attack almost definitely portends future such missile attacks. More likely to take place from Yemen at Saudi Arabia, but the real potential missile threat from hezbollah and shiite proxies in syria cannot and will not be ignored in Israel. 

Imminent Destruction of Khan al-Amar

The Israeli supreme court's injunction against the demolition of the illegal bedouin encampment of Khan Al-Amar is finished. Today was the first day that demolition was possible. Didn't happen, but will soon. There are probably those on the arab side who think that european pressure will save them. This is likely a mistake. No criticism of Israel on this from the Trump Administration. No surprise there. The more the arabs trust in the power/influence of the europeans, the worse the let down is going to be and the more bitter the defeat. Bodes very well for Israel. 

Things are quite tranquil, politically, throughout Israel. We are likely still recovering from too much apples and honey. Not so much sukkah building time between Yom Kippur and Sukkos this year, so that's keeping both the Jews and arabs quite busy these days. 

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem