This Week Today - Current Events from Israel

Ben Packer,

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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

Everyone, and I mean everyone, is on vacation in Israel right now. And yet, there is still news. Some bad, some good, and hopefully some of it entertaining. 

More Terror

Sadly, we once again have to start with a terror attack. This past Shabbat eve, an arab driver drove off the road and struck two Jewish teenagers (brother and sister) while they were walking to a bus stop in Gush Etzion, just south of Jerusalem. The car behind the terrorist was a policeman and his dashcam recorded the whole incident. He pulled over and killed the terrorist as he attempted to emerge with a knife from his overturned car. Fortunately, it appears the fact that the girl was wearing a large backpack cushioned her landing and her injuries are not severe. However, her brother's life remains in danger and prayers are very much needed - his name: Nachum Elimelech Rafael ben Zehava Rivka. 

Other attacks were prevented throughout the week, including one on the Jordanian border. Anyway, things feel like they are heating up. This happens most summers and often continues into the Jewish high holiday season. This year the holidays are late on the secular calendar, so tough to predict what will be in the short term. 

Iraq Apparently is Fair Game (and Maybe Yemen too)

Last week we reported that Israel had begun bombing Iranian targets in Iraq, in addition to those regularly bombed in Syria. This week it was reported that both the US and Russia actually explicitly allowed these strikes, provided that Israel doesn't speak about them publicly, which they haven't. Refreshing. Now reports are coming out that strikes will soon commence on Iranian proxies in Yemen. In short, Israel is now defending a large chunk of the Sunni Arab world from Iranian Shiite aggression. Who would have ever imagined this?!

Diplomacy, Netanyahu-style

This week Prime Minister Netanyahu scored some serious diplomatic victories:

-Successful trip to the Ukraine. Imagine how crazy it must be to meet with their JEWISH Prime Minister - surreal! Pledges of cooperation were made. No moving of the Ukrainian embassy to Jerusalem just yet. Israeli media continues to be obsessed with Sara Netanyahu. Apparently she didn't eat some stale Ukranian bread. Keeping kosher can be convenient sometimes! 

-A free trade agreement was made with South Korea. That's right, the Samsung people! Obviously this is huge news for Israeli consumers. It also continues the trend of Israeli diplomatic/economic successes in Asia. Those folks either don't know or don't care about "BDS" at all! 

-An Israeli agricultural delegation went to the African muslim country of Chad this week for meetings on further cooperation. Apparently Chad isn't so much into "BDS" either. 

Israeli Election Update

Not much change this week. Polls are pretty much the same, with not enough seats being won for either side to form a governing coalition. (Important to remember: the polls are always quite wrong, not a little wrong!) 

Ayelet Shaked was accused of promising that Prime Minister Netanyahu wouldn't be prosecuted for bribery or anything else if she was appointed to be a minister in the next government. Other people, including Shaked, say it ain't true. I don't really see what it matters if it is true. Its called politics. This ain't church choir practice. But there are crazy politics in those choirs as well. (See the Whitney Houston documentary. So sad.) 

All three small right-wing parties (Zehut, Otzma an Noam) continue to poll below the percentage necessary for entering the next Knesset (must win at least 4 seats). If they fail to qualify, this could cost seats from the right-wing parties. And every seat matters in this election! If they all quit, the poll numbers and recent history firmly suggest that a right-wing government will easily be formed. 

Fitting for a party led by 3 former Chiefs of Staffs (and a DJ - Lapid), the "Blue and White" party spent the week hunting for moles who are leaking info to the press. Let's hope they don't find and shoot the perpetrator. But that definitely would liven things up over there, otherwise, they are quite boring. 


Rockets and other violent acts continued to be unleashed on the Jewish Communities that surround the Gaza border. Thankfully, little success has been had by the terrorists. There is currently a  heightened alert by Israel throughout the area for fear of more infiltration/retaliatory attempts by the various terror groups. Everyone knows that a war is coming, the only question is when and how far Israel will take it/will Hamas still exist after.

There was another very interesting report about Gaza this week and the source for this remains unknown. What is well known is that many arabs want to leave Gaza. Every time the border is opened with Egypt, thousands of arabs leave, never to return. Many of these people are young and looking for better futures abroad. This week a report suggested that Israel would be willing to help finance arabs leaving Gaza. Its hard to understand why anyone supporting such a project would think it a good idea to publicize it. Likely its those opposed making the noise. 

And speaking of noise.....I'm just going to break this down right quick for everyone. The people in America who hate President Trump really hate him and will do whatever they can do to get rid of him. Mostly that means by producing fake news. This week President Trump questioned the "loyalty" of American Jews to Israel and the Jewish People. The fake news people said that he was talking about their loyalty to America. Not so. 

The numbers of Jews, specifically, who are for or against Trump have not changed and are unlikely to change. So headlines that say stupid things like: "Jews are......Trump" are nonsense. The numbers are the same regardless of what happens. President Trump could move the US embassy to Jerusalem, recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement,, recognize Israeli control of the Golan Heights, pressure the palestinians to negotiate, withhold funds meant for terrorists and so on and it wouldn't matter a bit to many non-observant liberal American Jews. America Jews are certainly loyal, the only problem is what they are loyal to.