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 (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

This Week Today
Current Events from Israel

The Deal of the Century
Many questions remain about President Trump's recently released "Deal of the Century". This includes: was this ever meant to be serious in the first place? So far, as should/may have been easily expected, no Arabs have fully endorsed the plan and many, including all "palestinian" representatives, have utterly rejected it. On the Israeli side, its been a little more nuanced, with most people accepting many parts, if not all, of the plan. The call for the creation of a "palestinian" state has aroused the most opposition from more right-wing sections of the Israeli public/political scene. 

The main issue, thus far, is whether or not the plan/the current US Administration endorses/allows Israel to immediately annex areas of Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank"). There seems to be a good amount of confusion on this. Prime Minister initially declared his intention of annexing all Jewish communities within just one week of the announcement. That has since come and gone with no annexation. Now some voices, including the Prime Minister's, are suggesting that annexation can only take place after the upcoming Israeli elections. I think its safe to assume that Netanyahu will annex something before the elections in an attempt to grab some votes. Even if the attempted annexation is summarily nullified by the Supreme Court - a distinct possibility - it could help his campaign. 

Reaction on the "Arab Street"
So far the "Arab Street" has remained relatively calm. A "day of rage" was called, but nothing really happened. There was a widely televised incident in Hevron in which an Israel border-policeman was hit in the neck by a burning molotov cocktail thrown by Arabs. Miraculously he suffered no serious injury. The following today, another Arab decided to throw molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces and his funeral was held shortly thereafter. 

Tensions Escalate with Gaza
Explosive-laden balloon clusters continue to fly regularly over the Gaza border toward Israel. They have been occasionally accompanied by rockets as well. One has to wonder how long Defense Minister Naftali Bennett will allow this to go on while continuing to respond in the exact same was as his predecessors had - ceremonial bombings of evacuated empty Hamas terror sites. Bennett and his allies are hinting that a larger response is coming. Doesn't seem like Hamas is too intimidated at this point. 

Netanyahu goes to Uganda, really? 
Yes! Prime Minister Netanyahu paid a one-day visit to Uganda this week where he met with both Ugandan and neighboring Sudanese leaders and seemingly made significant progress in strengthening ties between Israel and the two Muslim nations. One cannot ignore the emotional aspect that such a trip must have had on the Prime Minister - to fly to the exact place where his brother was killed decades ago while rescuing Jewish hostages. There had been hopes that Uganda would announce their intention to open an embassy in Jerusalem. That did not happen just yet, but could in the near future. Both Muslim leaders faced internal criticism for their public engagement with the Zionist entity, but they openly resisted this criticism and it seems to have had little practical effect. 

World Zionist Congress Elections in the United States
Many Jewish Americans are unaware, but there is currently an election going on in America for the World Zionist Congress. What is the World Zionist Congress? From their website: 

"The 38th World Zionist Congress (WZC) will be held in Jerusalem from October 20 – 22, 2020. It is the only democratically elected global Jewish forum and is the direct continuation of The First Zionist Congress, convened by Theodore Herzl in 1897. That gathering was the genesis of the modern Zionist movement and the original meeting of great minds that collectively put to paper the idea that the Jewish people should have a state of their own. Today, the WZC, which now meets about every five years, is the overall supreme ideological and policy-making body of the Zionist movement. The delegates and the bodies they form at the WZC determine the leadership and influence the policies of Israel’s National Institutions: the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeIsrael (JNF) and Keren Hayesod – which together allocate nearly $1 billion annually in funding in support of Israel and Jewish communities around the world."

Yes, $1 billion annually! And special for this year, there is now an anti-Israel group running, in addition to the overly critical reform and conservative groups. Five years ago they won a majority of the seats. Mostly by voting on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Classy. Don't want them to win again? Vote!  (link: https://azm.org/elections?fbclid=IwAR0klNe8EF3jD9aNlfdDvFs4NcjON8WOZa2Bn-c1sZ5VRjYAL0WM21doI6U