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....

This Week Today
Current Events from Israel
(written from the USA this week!)

Netanyahu Indictment
It would appear from numerous indications that the Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandleblit will announce tomorrow at least one or more criminal indictments against Prime Minister Netanyahu. This could have a large effect on the upcoming Israeli election or none at all. The expected charges, frankly, seem silly and insignificant. All the major earlier accusations seem to have been unfounded. Netanyahu is returning earlier than originally planned from meetings in Russia and its safe to assume he will have a fiery response to this development. Very little chance of any kind of surrender on his part. Will be interesting to see how this develops. Once again, the parallels to events in the US (Michael Cohen/Mueller/all that stuff) are incredible.

Jerusalem Drama
There was a dramatic escalation on the Temple Mount this week and I will do my best to explain. Today I watched an excellent video about it by Avi Abelow. Totally worth finding and watching. (here)

There is an area on the Temple Mount that is inside the "Gates of Mercy". The gates are sealed and there is a building there. This area used to be open, but was closed over 10 years ago because hamas was operating there. This order was backed up by a Supreme Court ruling. Beginning last week and culminating at Friday prayers, arabs began to break into the site and on Friday thousands of arabs poured into the site and prayed there. As of now, the site remains open and arabs are praying there regularly. In essence, as of now, a new mosque has been opened for business on the Temple Mount.

Why? Obviously a bit complicated, but the short answer is inter-arab rivalries. We have talked here before about the battle for influence in Jerusalem. Of course this battle between Jews and arabs goes back thousands of years. However, in the past 25 years, this battle has been primarily waged by the "palestinians", basically as representatives of the muslim world. An exception is the Temple Mount which has remained under the control of Jordan. Now, as a result of numerous developments, primarily inter-muslim/"palestinian" rivalries and the upcoming release of the Trump "Peace" plan, "palestinian" appointees were added by Jordan to the Wakf (muslim religious organization) that controls the Temple Mount and they pushed forward with this move to "liberate" the specific area.

Not the best timing - during Israel election season. Hard to see how Netanyahu can just back down on this. Also the new Mayor of Jerusalem will have a hard time not responding to this as well. Sets the scene for some potentially dramatic Israeli responses - like always, the arabs provoke and the Jews are forced to win. (think Six Day War)

Otzma Yehudit-mania! 
The leftists Jews in Israel and America have found their new cause and its not even new. One can only fantasize of being able to piss these people off 30 years after death. There has been a good amount of whining over the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) Party running in the upcoming Israeli elections. It was agreed last week that three parties, including Otzma, will run on a joint ticket. This virtually guarantees at least one Otzma representative will enter the Knesset. The leaders of the Otzma party are all connected to the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, hy'd. Rabbi Kahane wrote a book many decades ago called "Uncomfortable Questions for Comfortable Jews". Even though it was written long ago, it completely explains the current situation. Someone should write an updated version. Any sponsors reading this?

Anyway, petitions have been submitted to ban Otzma from running. Petitions have also been filed against some of the arab parties as well. In the past, the Supreme Court have allowed all parties to run regardless of petitions, so safe to assume it will be the same again.

In general, Israeli election scene remains virtually the same. Tons of fake news, but both sides (left and right) are holding their same respective numbers and only the right has any realistic chance of forming a coalition government. The parties of Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid joined together and will likely get more seats than Likud, but that doesn't really mean much practically. The math stays the same no matter how much some folks want it to be different. (think US electoral college)

Above the Red Line Baby! 
We are above the red line! For those of you who are not daily (hourly?) monitoring the level of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), thanks to abundant rainfall so far this winter, the level of the water has officially surpassed the "red line" - below that depth has been determined by scientists to cause ecological problems. Now I don't have to feel guilty about those long showers. It the only time I can think! Still another 4 meters to go until its full, but why look at the lake as half empty, when its much more than half full!!!!

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem