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....

Drama. Drama. Drama. A week full of drama.  

Airbnb Boycotts the Jews
This week, Airbnb announced a new company policy that Jews would no longer be listed on their site if their locations were in Judea or Samaria (what the ignorant world calls the West Bank). Of course there are no other places in the world where Airbnb has taken such a stance. Its only the Jews. Shocking. arabs will continue to be listed, even sometimes  in the same town as Jews - like in Hevron. 

Clearly this is psychotically anti-Semitic. (if you disagree, google anti-Semitism) Jews all over the world are cancelling the app from their phones and the Israeli Government is examining different options to protest the move. Boycotting Israel is actually illegal is 24 States in the US, so that could be interesting as well. 

I would say that its pretty safe to assume that Airbnb both checked with left-wing, self-hating Jews before making this (misguided) decision and factored in how much revenue they would potentially lose from a counter-boycott and then did what they did anyway. This is one of those moments where its especially advantageous to believe in G-d and his Torah. "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you." (Genesis 12:3)

Netanyahu's Coalition Government Lives!   
Despite Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman's resignation and his removal of his party from the Coalition last week, the current Government continues with a razor thin majority of 61 seats (out of 120). The head of the Bayit Yehudi party, Naftali Bennett, had demanded the recently vacated position of Defense Minister and threatened to also quit the Government, along with his party, if he didn't get it. However, he later backed down from the threat and remained in the Government. What did he get for it? Hopefully alot! How long will this Government last is anyone's guess, but some real interesting stuff could happen in the meantime. 

Aryeh Deri Going Back to Jail?
Fresh off a huge victory in the Jerusalem Mayoral and City Council races, Shas leader Aryeh Deri has been recommended by the Israeli police to be charged with numerous financial crimes. He has not been officially charged yet, but I've seen enough Law & Order's to confidently say that there's a pretty likely chance he will eventually be indicted. And then what will happen to Shas? Hard to say, but with national elections possibly imminent and definitely within the year, they best be ready for this scenario. 

Gaza And Southern Lebanon Remain Relatively Peaceful
Despite how things looked just a short time ago, things remain relatively peaceful in both the south (Gaza/Hamas) and north (southern Lebanon/Hezbollah) of Israel. This quiet could be quite deceptive. Today at a diplomatic conference in Jerusalem many Israeli politicians ominously threatened Hamas leadership and even suggested the possibility of a full Israeli return to Gaza in the near future. I doubt they will take that well in Gaza. 

Shimon HaTzadik/Nachalat Shimon Jerusalem Neighborhoods
This week there was a final court decision regarding a large property in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood, just north of the Old City of Jerusalem. There were 2 Jewish neighborhoods there before 1948, located around the grave of the famous Jewish sage, Shimon HaTzadik. In 1948 all the Jews were forced out of the neighborhoods and they were replaced by arab squatters. This happened in many places, but what's unique about this particular situation are two things: 1) The entire neighborhoods were Jewish and 2) About 20 years ago, Yassir Arafat personally intervened in the legal dispute and encouraged the arabs to stop paying rent to the Jewish owners and to do various other ill-advised things that destroyed any chance of them winning in court. This week, their legal fates were sealed. This decision was for one building, but there are numerous other properties in the same situation. This will dramatically strengthen the Jewish Presence in the "holy basin" around the Old City. 

Luckily for Airbnb, over the course of the last 70 years, a few Jews have sold their properties to arabs, so looks like they can stay in the neighborhood after all. That's assuming they are still in business.  

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem