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

Jeffrey Epstein - that's one hell of a thing. I can't think of anything else (even the assassination of JFK) that more people think is a conspiracy. And still some people have the nerve to say that Hillary Clinton is incompetent - what more must the lady do to impress you! On to the real news! 

Another Jewish Victim of arab Terror

Unfortunately, this past week, a 19 year old pre-army yeshiva student was found murdered from stab wounds near the yeshiva where he studied in Gush Etzion, just south of Jerusalem. The victim, Dvir Sorek, hy'd, was from the Binyamin community of Ofra, just north of Jerusalem. It took less than 48 hours for the security services to apprehend the 2 arab terrorists responsible in the Hevron area. The area where the attack occurred has heavy surveillance, so it was no real surprise that they were captured so quickly. It appears that at least one of the terrorists is connected to the terror group hamas. 

Shortly after that attack, a team of 4 heavily armed hamas-affiliated arab terrorists attempted to cross the fence into Israel from Gaza. The 4 were detected by an IDF female remote lookout and all were killed by an infantry force from the IDF's Golani 12 Battalion. There was another similar attempted attack by a sole terrorist a few hours later in the Gaza area with the same result -  terrorist killed. 

As of now, it doesn't appear that the situation will ignite into something bigger, like back in 2014. Election season right now in Israel, not a great time for hamas, or anyone else, to act up. The public/electoral pressure to completely destroy the enemy would be quite intense. If only we could constantly have elections, we'd all be safer. 

Crazy Court Decision

In honor of the yeshiva summer vacation season, which started this past Monday, a concert was scheduled to be held in a public park in Afula. The singer scheduled to perform was a Chassidic Jew and the overwhelming majority of expected attendees were also ultra-orthodox, men and women, separate - as is the well-known religious custom in that community. A liberal women's group petitioned the local court to stop the event because it was to be separate by gender and on public property. The Nazareth court ruled that the concert must be not separate, prompting organizers to cancel the concert. In the end the court reneged, after tremendous public pressure and mockery, and allowed the concert to proceed tonight. After the concert, which was attended by thousands, the supreme court in Jerusalem ruled that the concert should not have been allowed to be separate. 

What on earth is going on here? Its simple and has nothing to do with any semblance of law. Everyone knows that this is how the ultra-orthodox community lives, but what the courts are saying is: only in your areas. In Jerusalem, in Bnei Brak, in Beitar, but not in Afula or other places with secular populations. Stay out of those. In short, its institutional bigotry, its pathetic and in no way sustainable. But its an amazing way to rally the troops for the ultra-orthodox parties' election campaigns! 

Israeli Election Update

Polls are pretty much the same this week. And definitely still wrong! The only difference is that both far right-wing parties, Zehut (2.9%) and Otzma (2.7%), have crept higher and closer to the coveted electoral threshold of 3.25%. One must continue to wonder why they didn't just combine into a technical partnership before the deadline. They'd both get in, probably with at least 4 seats each. Baffling. 

Speaking of Otzma, there were petitions submitted to the election committee to disqualify the whole party and/or specific candidates from running. The petitions were rejected tonight. However, like everything else in this judicial dictatorship, the supreme court will have the final say. Why even have an election committee? Baffling. 

Also this week, Prime Minister Netanyahu almost fired Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotrich for harshly criticizing him over the ridiculous initial court decision in Afula. They had a little talk and everything is now fine. Folks can be quite forgiving during election season - if only it was more often! 

The Rest of the Region

-Arabs still killing each other in Syria and Yemen. No Jews to blame, so world media couldn't care less. 

-Israel continues to bomb Iranian weapons and personnel, this week again in Iraq. World seems to oddly accept this as reasonable, or they don't really want to fight with Israel/President Trump right now.

Temple Mount Victory

This past week, the Jewish day of mourning Tisha B'Av and the muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha (where they slaughter animals for poor people, as taught to me by the arab with an MBA at the hardware store) coincided. Jews have not been previously allowed to ascend to the Temple Mount of this muslim holiday, but the police allowed an exception because it was Tisha B'Av. The arabs subsequently rioted and the police restored order. Baffling.