This Week Today - Current Events from Israel

Ben Packer,

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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

Busy, busy week! We'll try to get as much covered as possible. Let's go! 

Iran: You Can Hide, but It Won't Help! 

After striking Iranian targets in Syria last week, this week Israel struck Iranian targets in Iraq. That's right, Iraq! Far into Iraq. It seems that Iran had transferred missiles into Iraq to be launched against Israel when the time was right. That time will now be never. None of this has stopped Iran from scheming. They met with Hamas officials this week to discuss a southern front to any war that would start in the north. In short, as its almost August, this happens more or less every year at this time. This year the tensions are slightly more heightened because of the situation with the captured and detained British and Iranian oil tankers and general tension with the Trump Administration.

Add to all this that this week America and Israel successfully tested the Israeli anti-ballistic missile system called the "Arrow 3" in Alaska. There simply is not enough room in Israel to test a system with this kind of range. It would seem that perhaps Alaska was created for just this purpose. And dangerous fishing. Message to Iran is clear: whatever you can shoot, we can shoot down. That's assuming we don't shoot all the rockets while they are still on the ground. And if Iran is reading this, yes, I'm talking smack. You ain't got a monopoly on that either! 

700 Building Permits for Palestinians in Area C - What the Heck?!!

This week the Israeli cabinet approved the construction/authorization of 700 residential units for arabs in Area C of Judea and Samaria (the "west bank"). This area is under full Israeli control. This is the first time in years that any plan of any significant numbers has been approved. What is going on?!!! 

Despite some pushback from some on the right, others on the right have even tacitly supported the approvals. Why? In short, it looks alot better. According to all reports, Prime Minister Netanyahu is planning in the near future to approve or at least advance the building of 6000 Jewish residential units in the same area. That's a nice chunk of housing. And 6000 is alot more than 700. Remains to be seen where these houses will be built and how strategic this is. But if you're still thinking: this is not right-wing enough for Bibi during an election. Then you're right! So today he also promised that he could get the US to agree that no Jewish communities would have ever be evacuated and destroyed again. Sounds good doesn't it? Let's wait and see where those approvals are. As they say: actions speak louder than words. Especially with Netanyahu. 

Additionally, some on the right are suggesting that this is a sign that Israel plans to annex Area C and therefore is taking a more active role there, both with the Jews and the arabs. Maybe. I wouldn't get too excited just yet. 

Israeli Election Update

Coming down to the wire. Thursday night is the final deadline for parties' lists to be submitted for the election. Negotiations continue, but some things are decided. 

-The left will not completely unite. There will be 2 distinct groups on the left. One led by Ehud Barak (Democratic and Meretz) and the other by Amir Peretz (Labor and Gesher). 

-The arabs are united. All the arab parties are running together

-The right is still undecided. However, it appears that Moshe Feiglin's Zehut will run alone, despite not passing the electoral threshold in the past election. Bayit Yehudi, National Union and the New Right have united to form the United Right. Will far-right Otzma join too? Not a done deal, but I'd be shocked if they don't join before the deadline. 

In other election news, Avigdor Lieberman promises to not join a right-wing government. I don't think it will matter. The polls are always wrong and he's polling way above how well he'll actually do. Its more likely the results will be similar to the last election and a right-wing government will easily be formed (assuming not too many votes are lost on Feiglin/Zehut. Not much too worry about there).

The Three Weeks?

We are now in the Ashkenazic mourning period called the "Three Weeks" leading up to the historical date of the destructions of both Temples in Jerusalem. Despite this generally being a not so positive time on the calendar, so far this year 12 Israeli (seemingly Sephardi) teenagers were released from jail in Cyprus after having falsely been accused of rape and a Jewish guy (Sephardi) in jail in Florida had his original 20 year sentence commuted by President Trump after serving 4 years (he has 5 young children and his wife has stage 4 terminal cancer). The Sephardim don't start mourning until Rosh Chodesh Av at the earliest. Just another proof that G-d is probably Sephardi.