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

Hope all the Jews had a relatively easy fast. I hope the non-Jews ate well, because why not. Anyway, I forgave everyone who hasn't been sharing this thing I write with all of their friends. Not sure I can promise to do the same next year, so....

Turkey Gone Wild
Similar to a college spring break, President Trump has decided to remove all parental and institutional supervision from Turkey for at least a short period of time. As to be expected, many adults think this is ill advised, at best. And Turkey has already started to party. What's going on with this? Its a little complicated, but its important, so let's try to explain:

As you hopefully are aware if you've been paying attention at all, there has been a civil war going in Syria for the last 7 years. There are many sides and various alliances involved. We can't go through all of it, but one of the results from the outbreak of the Syrian civil war was the exciting emergence of ISIS - an extremist Sunni muslim terrorist entity - even more extreme and violent than the other ones, like Al Qaeda. ISIS was primarily located in eastern Syria, near the border with Iraq. Although the Syrian government of Dr. Bashar Assad was very opposed to ISIS, they had no way of actually confronting them, as they had numerous other enemies to contend with in the center and western part of the country. As a result of this, the mission of combating and eventually defeating ISIS fell to the Kurds - a mostly secular Sunni ethnic group within Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey. The Kurdish forces were publicly supported by the United States and others in their battle against ISIS.

Now that the civil war is mostly over, with Dr. Assad still in control of most of Syria, and ISIS is mostly defeated and displaced, the drama is far from over. Syria's northern neighbor Turkey hates the Kurds and has wanted to enter Syria for a while to remove (read: kill) them from along their border. They haven't been able to do this because American soldiers have been located in that area and Turkey ain't about to take them on.

This week, President Trump abruptly announced that he was removing those American soldiers from the area immediately. Turkey has wasted no time and has already begun bombing Kurdish targets. Reports tonight say that Turkey has also begun to send troops across the border. What will happen now? Who knows! President Trump has warned Turkey "not to go to far" or he will "obliterate" the Turkish economy. Turkey has been very open about wanting to create a buffer zone on its border with Syria with no Kurds. Additionally, Turkey has expressed a desire to send at least a million arab syrian refugees now in Turkey to this area to permanently resettle there. How does Dr. Bashar feel about this brilliant idea? Turkey isn't asking him.

For the Kurds, this is all pretty bad. They will either have to find some new military allies and really quickly or run, also quickly. Many civilians will probably try to flee to northern Iraq, where there is a large, somewhat autonomous Kurdish community. Its hard to imagine the Kurds being able to actually successfully fight back against NATO-member Turkish forces, but you never know. Inshallah, as they say.

For Israel, the message was probably best articulated by Knesset Member Naftali Bennett's tweeting: "He threw them (the Kurds) under the bus. This is how America gives up its allies who fought Isis: Another bitter lesson for all America’s allies! The lesson for Israel is simple. Israel will ALWAYS defend itself by itself.”

For now, the region should expect continued and even increased volatility. This could set off a huge and potentially very violent chain of events. President Trump promised to get American soldiers out of "stupid, endless middle east wars." He also seems to feel that its time the Middle East takes cares of its own problems. (Doesn't help that Russia is here in a big way!) Despite all the criticism, President Trump is actually being quite consistent. He was right about there not being a violent outburst over moving the embassy to Jerusalem, let's wait and see if he's right about this too. Its only fair.

Netanyahu's Turn
This week, Prime Minister Netanyahu's lawyers got their first real chance to refute the corruption allegations against him. They went for 4 full days trying to convince the Attorney General and his legal staff not to indict the Prime Minister on various corruption charges. Netanyahu's lawyers say it went very well. Not sure what that is worth, but a final decision on whether to indict is expected no later than December. One of the lead prosecutors went on vacation half-way through the proceedings. I guess her mind is already made up. Sound familiar to what going on in the US right now with impeachment? Yea, its crazy.

Israeli Government Coalition Negotiations
Pretty much nothing going on. No one has backed down from anything. Maybe Yom Kippur had an effect on everyone/anyone. I doubt it, but nothing is going to happen until after the Holidays anyway. That's just the way things work here.

In your new state of post-Yom Kippur purity, I kept things pretty clean this week. By next week I'm sure most of y'all will be ready for my hilarious off-color commentary once more.