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

The holidays are now officially over - looking forward to Hanukah already! 

Crazy Crowded and its Really Good for the Jews! 
This year's holiday festivities saw huge crowds - pretty much throughout all of Israel. Records were smashed. This is especially, and most importantly, true at the places with the most geo-political significance - places like the Old City of Jerusalem, Hevron and Samaria. Its reported that over 70,000 people toured the Samaria region over the course of Sukkot. I don't know what the number was 5 years ago, but no chance it was even half of that! As a resident of the Old City of Jerusalem myself, I can report that the crowds here were tremendous - starting already with the Selichot supplications before Rosh Hashanah and continuing throughout the holiday season. And so far I'm only talking about the Jewish visitors, all statistics on non-Jewish tourists are also through the roof! 

What is going on? Three very important things - all contrary to the scare tactics of the mainstream media fake news: 

1) The explosive population growth of the religious/traditional Jewish community, both in Israel and the US
2) The complete irrelevance and total failure of the BDS movement (both Jewish non-Jewish initiated)
3) The overall lack of terrorism

That last one is the big one. In essence, it proves that the arabs were strategically (not morally) correct to employ terrorism as a means to weaken/defeat Israel for all those years. However, in the current absence of terrorism, the results speak for themselves. The Jewish presence is growing stronger and stronger and the arab resistance to that presence is becoming weaker and weaker. Who says we have to wait for Hanukah to get gifts - everyday is a gift these days! 

Oops, He Did It Again

Once again, despite all odds and the opinions of many, President Trump has managed to remove US troops from northern Syria and maintain relative calm. After Vice-President Pence flew to Turkey and negotiated a cease-fire agreement, things have been mostly quiet. The terms agreed to by pretty much everyone is that Russia and Syrian forces will secure the northern border between Syria and Turkey and the Kurdish forces will redeploy further south, away from that border. Turkey will undoubtedly be looking for excuses to re-enter Syria, but President Trump's threats to "swiftly destroy" the Turkish economy will make him think more than twice before he acts too aggressively. 

For now:
-Turkey has succeeded in removing Kurdish forces from their border, but not in settling the area with Syrian arabs who previously fled into Turkey during the civil war there. 
-Syria has succeeded in regaining previously lost territory. 
-And the Kurds live to fight another day. 

Israeli Government Coalition Update
After failing to form a coalition, Prime Minister Netanyahu returned the mandate back to President Rivlin. President Rivlin has now given the mandate to Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party to try to form a coalition. His chance of doing so? Not great. Actually, very unlikely. It is possible that during the 28 days that Gantz has to try to form a coalition, the Attorney General will decide whether or not to indict Netanyahu. That could affect how negotiations are going, but might also not at all. At least another week of waiting to see what happens. (Probably more)

The Israeli Army can do no Wrong, Unless they are Religious and attacked by Bedouins in which case they must be wrong

So this week, there were two incidents involving Israeli soldiers being attacked. They were similar, but also very different. 

In the first incident, the Commander of Israeli forces in Judea and  Samaria signed an order distancing a Jewish husband/father from his home for 3 months. No evidence presented and no appeal allowed. This is exactly why America has a Bill of Rights, to prevent nonsense like this. Needless to say, his friends and neighbors were none too thrilled with this "justice". One of them voiced his opinion to a local battalion commander who subsequently had him arrested on Shabbat. Well that definitely made things better. The next night when Israeli soldiers showed up on the hill where the expelled guy lives, some teenagers popped their tires and hit one of the soldiers in the shoulder with a rock. Now the leftist news is all ablaze about Jewish terror against Israeli soldiers. What they fail to realized is that both the army and the teenagers are being used by the leftists to further their leftist political goals. Its Golani, so tough to ask them to figure that out so quickly. Hopefully things will calm down without too much further collateral damage. 

In the second incident, a group of soldiers from a religious/ultra-orthodox unit stopped at a rest stop in southern Israel and were threatened/ridiculed by Bedouin teenagers. If anyone is dumb enough to think that the tired soldiers started the fight, please never read this update again, you're not on the proper level of intelligence. The soldiers of course won the fight and now they have all been arrested - 14 of them. Not exactly the way to get more ultra-orthodox to join the army. 

A manhunt is on for the Jewish teenagers and the Bedouins are as free as birds, while the ultra-orthodox soldiers sit in jail. This definitely is not the legal system from the Book of Judges.