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....

Action-packed week in the Middle East! Who provided the spark? President Trump! (Not really, but everything is because of him, no?)

President Trump Orders US Military Pull-out from Syria

This past week, President Trump surprisingly (is anything not a surprise with him?) announced that all US troops will be pulled out of Syria in the near future. The stated mission of the US military there has been to defeat ISIS and protect minorities - specifically the Kurds. President Trump claimed that ISIS has been more or less defeated, so that mission was accomplished. It has been reported that President Trump made his decision after speaking on the phone with the leader of Turkey. Turkey is the main enemy of the Kurds, so either President Trump must have either been reassured that Turkey wouldn't harm the Kurds or became convinced that it was a good idea to let Turkey harm the Kurds. Needless to say, the Kurds are concerned.

And so is the rest of the Middle East. Why? There is fear that the ensuing power vacuum created, after US forces depart, will be filled by Iran and they will establish a "highway of terror" from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea - through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon - with no one in the way. Which superhero country can be called upon to prevent this potentially very dangerous scenario? Super Jewish State! Also known as Israel.

Israel Attacks Hezbollah/Iran in Syria

Last night Israel attacked Syria with numerous missiles. The intended targets were reportedly Iranian/Hezbollah ammunition depots and apparently also airplanes taking hezbollah leadership for meetings in Iran. That's one way to send a message, and the only way that works in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia was probably clapping and chanting "Israel, Israel, Israel" (Think The Nutty Professor dinner scene - "Hercules, Hercules, Hercules"). Not clear on exact results yet from the strikes, but normally takes a day or two on things like this.

New Elections in Israel!

As has been predicted here for the past few weeks, the Israeli Coalition Government is right now (this exact moment) in the process of dissolving itself and setting new elections for April 9, 2019. Polls suggest that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Likud party will do very well. Recently Americans learned not to trust polls too much, in Israel everyone knows you would have to be a total fool to trust the polls - but we love them anyway!

Numerous candidates, old and new, are now scrambling to find parties to run with and there will definitely be surprises going forward. With that said, it would be much more than surprising if the next Government wasn't at least as "right-wing" at this one and likely more. But again, you never know with these types of things. Alot can happen between now and April 9th, besides Tu B'Shevat and Purim. Coming right before Passover, there should be numerous calls to "clean out" the Knesset. Jewish State, so you know that's coming!

We Selling "medicinal" Weed Internationally Now

Now that the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) will be dissolved for new elections, no new bills will be voted on. Therefore, there was a final push to get a few laws approved before that could happen. One of them is that its now been legalized for Israeli companies to sell "medicinal marijuana" abroad. I knew I should have invested in that! Can't wait to see what folks do about that come Shmittah year - 2022. You can bet (certain) people will be flocking to those sabbatical year "unowned" fields and getting high on halacha!

Another Hezbollah Tunnel Found and Destroyed

The Israeli Combat Engineering forces found a fifth hezbollah attack tunnel today along the border with Lebanon and destroyed it. With the tunnels having been found and destroyed and US forces leaving Syria, its open season on hezbollah/iran targets.

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem