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

A bunch of world "leaders" are in Israel this week to pretend they are sad about the Holocaust, but more on that later. Let's start with their current genocidal buddy: Iran. 

Iran continues on their losing streak this week. The only other group losing this much these days is the UNC basketball team. Maybe they shouldn't have hosted that anti-semitic conference a little while back on campus. Its likely that G-d let their football team win some games because he knew that no one cared and  everyone really only cares about basketball. Anyway, back to Iran. No serious retaliatory response to the US assassination of the former leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, General Soleimani, has been achieved and now another high-ranking Iranian general has been gunned down. This one happened inside Iran and seemingly by fellow Iranians. Who said it couldn't get worse? It always can and hopefully will continue to for Iran. 

75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz Celebration in Israel
As mentioned earlier, over 40 world "leaders" are in the process of showing up in Israel this week to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz being liberated. I personally think the whole thing is weird - of all the reasons to have a party.... I didn't realize how dumb it was until I saw the Times of Israel celebrating this whole spectacle as something very significant for Israel. Dead give away that it isn't. 

First off, the head of Poland is boycotting. Poland!  At least now everyone can tell polak jokes non-stop. Apparently he is irked that Putin is suggesting that Poland weren't really a bunch of tzadikkim during the Holocaust. The nerve. Also he wasn't going to be allowed to speak at the official event even though Auschwitz is actually located in Poland. The chutzpah knows no bounds. How can you have any international gathering without Poland? I guess everyone will just do their best to make it through the ceremonies without them and their well-known quick polak wit. 

Since Poland didn't come, they sent the next best/worst thing from Europe: President Macron of France. So far, he's publicly yelled at the Israeli police who were guarding him and met with Palestinian Authority President Abu Mazen. It takes a special kind of person to fly to Israel to commemorate the Holocaust and then at the same to meet with someone who wrote their dissertation on how it didn't really happen. I suppose some other world leader could top this, but my money is on Macron to win this round of this wretched international competition. 

But a close second would be Russian Dictator Vladimir Putin who is coming to commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz and to negotiate decades old property disputes while holding an Israeli girl hostage back in Russia. Why make two trips? The man is efficient and seemingly not very sentimental.  

Despite the misgivings mentioned above, there is still the possibility that this international gathering is a significant diplomatic achievement for Israel. However, its impossible to get away from that fact that the Times of Israel holds that way and therefore it must be wrong. When it comes to this topic, generally the most effective message is 'Better a strong Israel hated by the world than an Auschwitz loved by it." 

There has been an uptick in attacks on Israel from Gaza in the past week. In addition to numerous balloon bombs being launched toward Israel, a terror cell of three terrorists crossed into Israel armed with explosive devices. They were quickly eliminated by tank fire. Its unclear what has directly caused the escalation, but a local arab newspaper suggested that the whole Auschwitz shindig could be cancelled if just one Jew is killed and that probably didn't help. 

Israeli Election Update
The official lists of parties and their candidates for the Knesset were finalized last week and now its time for campaigning. After the Otzma Yehudit party was left out of the agreement between the other "right-wing" parties, pressure and incentives were provided for them to quickly drop out of the race. Itamar Ben-Gvir, head of Otzma, made it clear this week that it wasn't going to happen and would run until the end. And unlike with Rafi Peretz, Smotrich and Bennett, its probably safe to believe him. 

Edelstein, how could you? How could you not? 
There was plenty of criticism from Likud members this week of Speaker of the Knesset and fellow Likud member Yuli Edelstein. Edelstein has formally decided to convene a committee to decide on whether Prime Minister Netanyahu will receive immunity from prosecution or not. In fairness to Edelstein, it seems that he would have simply been removed from his position by Netanyahu's opponents if he hadn't acted this way and his replacement would have promptly convened the immunity committee. Not sure if there was a way out of this one. 

The Kinneret is Rising
Thanks to an abundance of rain so far this winter, the Sea of Galilee, known as the Kinneret in Hebrew, is steadily rising and is now only 1.75 meters away from being completely full. If the Kinneret does fill up, then dams will be opened and water will flow into the Jordan River and make its way eventually to the Dead Sea. This is a testament to the successful operation of desalination plants in Israel that have provided Israel with another reliable source of drinking water, in addition to the Kinneret. There were those who gleefully predicted that the Kinneret would never be full again - I'm sure Macron or Putin must have some extra room on their planes and it would be great if they would take these folks with them to where they would be much happier.