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....

Sad Ending to Pesach 

As everyone is probably aware, there was a terrible attack on a synagogue near San Diego, California on the last day of Passover. In the attack, a Jewish woman named Lori Gilbert Kaye, hy'd, was murdered and three other Jewish people, including the Rabbi, were wounded. The lone attacker was chased from the building by other congregants and was arrested by police nearby. It seems that at least one of the congregants was armed and fired shots that hit the car of the murderer. 

Since the attack, everyone has pretty much responded consistently to the way they do to other such tragic incidents: Normal people express condolences and try to explore practical ways to prevent such tragedies in the future. Progressives blame President Trump.

Political Turmoil in Venezuela 

This week saw an escalation in the political battle for the future of Venezuela between the two rival camps of Nicolas Maduro and Juan Guado. How on earth is this connected to far away Israel? It certainly is, for the following reasons:

-Oil, Venezuela has got alot of it

-The recent leadership (Maduro) of the country has been consistently anti-Israel, pro-Hezbollah. The potential new leadership (Guado) has already promised to restore relations with Israel

-Venezuela is a microcosm for much of South America and could change or maintain numerous dynamics for the region - including relations with Israel

-Oil, yes I wrote it again

Israeli Coalition Negotiations Continue

The new and old members of the Israeli Knesset were sworn in yesterday. Some of the arab members boycotted the event and the others left when the national anthem, "HaTikva", was played. How can you not just love these people. 

Anyway, negotiations to form the new coalition government continue and are intensifying now that Passover is over. For now, everyone appears to be sticking to their demands, including the problematic Avigdor Lieberman, whose party is currently unfortunately essential to achieving a majority. There are rumors that attempts are being made to bring one or a few rogue "Blue and White" party members to join the government which would eliminate the veto power of Lieberman. Since the "Blue and White" party is a recent invention with no real ideology or even actual political positions, this may be possible. Would be quite a coup! (but not like in Venezuela)

Bypass Roads Approved

We've talked about roads, strategic ones, in the past. Roads are boring. They all look pretty much the same. Slightly different sizes, but same design. Same color, same lines, etc. Very little creativity. But for development and growth, they make all the difference in the world. 

Today Israel approved the immediate construction of two new bypass roads in the northern and southern "west bank" - Judea and Samaria, respectively. These new roads are planned to avoid hostile arab villages and to make traveling faster and SAFER for both Jews and arabs and almost anyone else. Nothing can make driving safer for Asian people. Just not their thing. But I love my Samsung! 

In previous instances when better roads were built, the most compelling being the highway to Tekoa/eastern Gush Etzion, huge development has followed. What's especially important about these proposed roads is that they connect areas (Hevron/Mount Hevron and Shechem/Gav HaHar) that have always been termed as "isolated". Now they won't be so isolated at all.

Alot of rumors that more Israeli soldiers' bodies have been found in Syria and will be returned in the near future and maybe even the remains of executed Israeli spy Eli Cohen as well. Meanwhile anti-Semitism is rising - most notably at the new york times. And tonight starts Yom HaShoah, with Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha'Atzmaut right around the corner. Its an emotional time for the Jewish People. May we only experience joyous occasions together! 

Don't forget to count the Omer!

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem