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....

As EVERYONE is aware, its been a crazy week for the Jewish People. Obviously, we have to start with the massacre in Pittsburgh


This past Shabbat, the worst attack on Jewish people in the history of the United States took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I won't go through all the publicized details, as I'm sure they are well known at this point. In short, 11, mostly elderly Jews, were killed  and 2 other Jews wounded during Shabbat services by a white American man with numerous firearms. Eventually, the man was shot and arrested by police after additionally wounding 4 policemen. He is now in custody and charged with numerous crimes.

Now as y'all know this update isn't known to bs or pc everything, so let's break this down in a brutally honest way. This murderer was reportedly angry about the organization HIAS assisting muslim refugees to move to America. There had recently been a Shabbat program dedicated to refugees by HIAS at the location of the murders. Seemingly that is why that particular place was targeted. It has been reported that there is ample evidence that the killer was a raving anti-semite, but it seems this refugee thing is what finally sent him off the deep end. He acted alone, isn't part of any organized group, and there is no longer any imminent threat to the community in Pittsburgh or anywhere else in the US. Of course, security has been beefed up at Jewish institutions around the country. 

This has nothing to do with President Trump, who visited Pittsburgh today and, of course, has condemned the murders and called for the death penalty. However, if President Trump killed this animal with his bare hands, he'd still be called an anti-semite by the crazy leftist community. Of course there were the expected protests against President Trump's presence, as well as against Israeli Government Minister Naftali Bennett who flew in to mourn with the community. 

Its an incredibly sad incident, but its very important to keep in mind that something like 99% of America continues to embrace the Jewish People as their neighbors, friends and fellow citizens in every way. The outpouring of support and compassion has been unprecedented. All while President Trump is President. You can't blame the massacre on him and then claim he has nothing to do with love being felt by the Jewish Community. In actual reality, he has NOTHING to do with either one of them! That's just how America is. America is spectacular, but anti-semitism is never something that completely goes away. 

Much more could be written. We join the rest of the Jewish People in praying for comfort to all the mourners among the remnant of Zion and Jerusalem and that they should know no more suffering. 


Across the world, things aren't exactly finished in Syria. This week ISIS used a sand storm to conquer new area in the east of Syria, near the Iraqi border. Now Turkey has entered more Syrian territory and this is causing heightened tension with the Kurdish forces. Don't forget about Syria the way the whole world forgot about the Saudi journalist who was just killed in Turkey. Did that really happen? 

Israeli Local Elections Held

The results are in! Kind-of. 

Short summary of prominent elections results:

-Tel Aviv mayor easily reelected

-Haifa elects first woman mayor, with vocal support of Ultra-Orthodox party

-Beit Shemesh mayor election is still too close to call, with only a few hundred votes separating the candidates. This happened last time as well and, after a court decision, they had another election. Might see that again. 

-And Jerusalem! 

In the mayoral race, no candidate received 40% of the vote, so there will be a second round with the top two contenders: Moshe Leon and Kofer Berkovich. The vote will take place in 2 weeks. Although Leon got slightly more votes than Berkovich in the first vote, there is no guarantee of victory. There is much campaigning and deal-making to go until Jerusalem knows who the next mayor will be. 

As for City Council in Jerusalem, the ultra-Orthodox parties did very well. They basically now have a majority of the council and Leon getting elected would seemingly shift virtually all power to them. They will be backed up by United with Arieh King (2 seats) and at times by Bayit Yehudi (also 2 seats). Jerusalem may be on the way to serious shift rightward, but we'll have to wait another 2 weeks to find out. 

Tragic Car Accident

There was horribly tragic car accident yesterday day near the Dead Sea. Two cars collided head-on and an entire family was killed - 2 parents and 6 children. Its hard to even fathom. The funerals were held today in Netanya. However the family had lived in the Samarian community of Psagot, just north of Jerusalem in the Binyamin region. This prompted some leftist elements to take shots at the community. Like those protesting in Pittsburgh, this appears to be quite the mental illness. 

Massive Growth Planned in Maale Adumim

We must end with good news. This week an agreement was announced that will lead to the construction of 20,000 more residential units in the Jewish Community of Maale Adumim, just east of Jerusalem toward the Judean desert. Growth in Maale Adumim has been stifled for years and this will allow for immediate construction of 470 units, with many more to come, including in the highly strategic "E1 Corridor" towards Jerusalem. The "palestinian" "leadership" consistently and adamantly  claims that the growth and even continued existence of Maale Adumim makes the creation of a "palestinian state" impossible.  Let's hope they right for once! 

There are rumors that Prime Minister Netanyahu will soon call for early national elections. That is exactly what we need now - another election! Not sure the Israeli public can handle it. We might have to find out! 

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem