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....

No!!! Nikki Haley Retires!

In sad news for the Jewish pro-Israel community, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has decided to resign her post, citing personal reasons. Its hard to imagine if there ever was or ever will be a better champion for Israel at the UN. Very likely whoever succeeds Haley will also be quite pro-Israel, but she will be sorely missed. I can't remember anything similar to the outpouring of sadness by the pro-Israel community that accompanied Haley's resignation in the political realm. It speaks volumes of her service.

Saudi Citizen/Journalist Disappears in Saudi Consulate in Turkey

This is totally crazy, even for the Middle East. Here's what we know so far: a Saudi journalist, who has been very critical of the current leadership in Saudi Arabia, was living in Turkey with his fiance. In order to get married to her, he needed to get some documentation from the Saudi consulate there. He went one time to the consulate and needed to go back again. In between the first visit and the second visit, a team of 15 members arrived from Saudi Arabia. There is video footage of him entering the consulate (the second visit), but nothing more than that. Pretty much everyone, including his fiance, seem to be under the impression that he is probably no longer alive. Obviously Turkey is not taking this well. Will be very interesting to see what happens next, but definitely seems to be a bold (crazy?) move by Saudi Arabia. Both Saudi Arabia and Turkey are Sunni countries, speaking different languages (arabic and turkish, respectively), and they are both vying for power in the larger Middle East region. Nonetheless, this is pretty out there.

Terrorist attack in Barkan Industrial Park. Two Jews Murdered

In very tragic news, 2 Israelis (a man - father of 3 and a woman - mother of one) were shot and murdered by an arab terrorist in the Barkan Industrial Zone. This is an area next to the Jewish Community of Ariel in the Shomron (Samaria), about an hour north of Jerusalem. Approximately 3000 arabs and 3000 Jews work there together on a daily basis. The lone terrorist in this incident was a former worker at the business he targeted. The woman killed in the attack was actually tied up before she was executed.

Brief Analysis: Its only one arab that committed the attack. No evidence yet that he was connected with a terrorist organization or with any of the other arab employees. A third Jewish victim in the attack was shot and wounded, but was helped by one of the other arab employees and survived. The terrorist still hasn't been captured, but its likely the Israeli security forces will catch up with him in the next few days. In short, its a very tragic, but also very isolated incident. People on the left and right have offered bombastic statements about why this happened and why it will happen again. As of now, I'd say its a little much.

Tragic Fire in Beitar

Last night there was a terrible tragedy in Beitar - a Jewish Community just south of Jerusalem with a population of about 55,000. A fire started in a private residence and although 10 children were rescued, two young children (ages 2 and 4) did not make it. Incredibly sad. But also a wake-up message. Unlikely there was any real chance of rescuing the children, but throughout the Judea and Samaria region, there is a huge lack of firefighting and other life-saving services (with the exception of the Army). This is a complicated political situation that has created a potentially dangerous living arrangement for hundreds of thousands. This if often overlooked in political deliberations, but it affects people on a daily basis. Another reason why decisions need to be made about the future of these areas. The more population, the more liability and the more need to act responsibly.

Two more very Strategic Properties for the Jews!

Finally, some GREAT news! Jewish organizations successfully purchased and inhabited 2 very strategic properties in the past week. One in the City of David (Silwan) by the Elad organization and one in the "muslim quarter" of the Old City of Jerusalem by the Ateret Cohanim organization. Of course all properties in these areas are significant and strategic, but these specific properties are even more so. Also both purchases involved arabs living in the US. These added dimensions have shook the local arab world. Very prominent arabs are involved in the sales and responses from "official" arab figures condemning these sales have been quite abundant and harsh. But "For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor." (Esther 8:16).

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem