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....

Thankfully, the mid-term elections are finally over in the US. Personally, I think President Trump is now even more powerful than before the elections. He will no longer be handicapped by a Republican-led House. Expect many executive orders and Senate judicial approvals over the next 2 years. And the democrats elected some real quacks, so that's guaranteed entertainment for at least the next 2 years. 

In more Jewish-oriented news in the US, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) held its gala a few days ago in New York City and it was very impressive. There is hardly a more demonstrative proof of where the Jewish Community in America is heading than the resurgence of ZOA and the types of people associated with it. Like it or now, they are the future. j-street? not so much.  aipac? jury is still out on that one. 

There were many predictions that Prime Minister Netanyahu would call for national elections immediately after local elections were held throughout Israel last week. This has not happened. Some local elections, like the Jerusalem mayoral election, aren't finished yet, so maybe he's waiting for those. I guess we'll have to wait until after next Tuesday to find out. 

There were two solid Israeli domestic political fights this week:

1) Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called out Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber for being overtly political and not doing her job. The Attorney General pretended to take offense to this, but its obvious that zilber is professionally way out of line. However, in fairness to her, this is pretty common behavior in the Israeli legal system. Seems like Shaked finally has had enough. Remains to be seen what will be with Zilber's future and if this will impact the entire legal scene. If the past serves as any indication, Shaked is really good at this. 

2) Knesset Member and former General Elazar Stern took a shot at Culture Minister Miri Regev by suggesting that she slept her way to her previous high position in the army. One has to wonder why she didn't suggest the same back at him. Its not like people aren't constantly wondering why he was ever in charge of anything important. Remains to be seen if there will be any political ramifications for Stern. I doubt it. Him being a jerk is not exactly breaking news. (Disclaimer: I've always hated him)

Relations continue to warm between Israel and Arab Gulf countries. First Prime Minister Netanyahu actually visited Oman and other Israeli Government officials visited the area as well. Now there is talk of a railway joining the Gulf States and Israel. This would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. However, Netanyahu explained the new reality quite clearly: If Israel is strong militarily, economically and politically, then the neighboring Arab states will no longer use the "occupation" as a barrier to relations and open cooperation. The stronger Israel gets, the less that stuff matters. Someone should tell that to the BDS folks in the US about this. As diplomatic relations improve, they getting ready to look quite silly. (and this is without to discuss the many countries planning to move their embassies to Jerusalem in the near future)

October broke the record for most tourism ever in Israel. November has a good shot at beating October. See the trend? Tourism in October brought in something like $650 million to the Israeli economy. Not bad. BDS, where you at? Not here. 

Israeli army and security services continue to hunt the arab terrorist who killed two Jews in the Barkan Industrial zone a month ago. Apparently, he's managed to escape a few times right before he could killed/apprehended. His luck will most likely run out soon. 

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has doubled down on development in Hevron and is now pushing forward an additional plan to build more Jewish apartments in the massively significant historical city. This is in addition to the 31 units approved recently. If these plans move forward and already-owned Jewish complexes are renovated and inhabited, then the Jewish Community in Hevron could double in size in the next 3 years or so. Not bad. BDS? Your occasional obnoxious tours of Hevron seem to be having very little effect. Its true that you manage to bring hundreds of anti-semites to Hevron every year, but 40,000 proud Jews just spent Shabbos in Hevron, many sleeping on the ground. 

By next week, we should know who the new Mayor of Jerusalem will be. We already know that BDS and the rest of the anti-Israel crowd had a terrible week, and its only getting worse from here! 

Happy Rosh Chodesh Kislev!   

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem