Photo Credit: Jewish Press

This week is all about peace and love. Actually, more like peace and corona. Let’s start with peace.



Peace Deal Signed on Tuesday 

At the White House on Tuesday, under President Trump’s supervision, diplomatic agreements were signed between Israel and the Arab entities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain. All sides are expressing very positive feelings towards this accomplishment. Let’s break it down and see what’s happened so far.


The Big Winners

* President Trump and his Middle East team have scored a massive victory. And there likely are more similar victories coming. So many, both on the right and left (but mostly the left), have made endless fun of the Trump Administration’s efforts, especially Jared Kushner’s, at peace in the Middle East.

Who is laughing now? All the career diplomats and “peace experts” look even more like the losers that they are now. Ironically, the signings took place very close to the anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords – possibly the worst agreement since… ever… like in the history of the world.

* Prime Minister Netanyahu has scored a big win for his legacy as a bonafide peacemaker. He’s got two peace treaties with Muslim countries so far and could even get more. It’s very unclear right now how much longer Netanyahu will be able to remain in his position, with his upcoming trial and all, but this is certainly quite the glorious moment for him personally and for his long political career.

* The UAE and Bahrain, ironically, are no longer isolated. For many decades, the “Arab Boycott” sought to totally isolate Israel. However, in reality, they ended up isolating themselves. Look at Syria and Yemen as prime examples of folks still living in the Stone Age as a result of this “strategy.”

The UAE and Bahrain have now broken free from this self-imposed siege and now the sky is the limit for advancements in technology, health, defense, and economic development.


The Big Losers

The big losers in all this are definitely Iran and the Palestinian Authority. Both have feasted off the conflict for years and that has all been shattered now. All that’s left to do is to pick up the broken pieces and break them even more! There is literally nothing positive here for them at all.


The Catch

What’s the catch? There must be a catch. There is no way that a century-long conflict can be solved so easily without any negatives. Actually there is a way – it’s called lip service! Some are screaming from the rooftops that this agreement has destroyed any chance of Israel extending sovereignty to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

They point to statements made by UAE and Bahrain leaders that attest to this “fact.” Have these people ever bought something in an Arab market before? Owners will say something like, “Believe me, I lose money.”

I would put all of these statements in the same category. Not to be taken seriously and to be laughed at together in the future over coffee or tea.

There will soon be over 500,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria, and the numbers will skyrocket from there. The extension of Israeli sovereignty may have been slightly delayed, but it certainly has not been canceled.


The Official Palestinian Response

Rockers were fired from Gaza during the signing ceremony. At least 11 Israelis were injured in the city of Ashdod, up the coast from Gaza. There is fear in Gaza that the Israeli response will be massive. I wouldn’t bet on that, but don’t expect any criticism from the UAE or Bahrain regardless. They are done with that game.


Israel Attacks in Syria

Israel continued to attack pro-Iranian targets in Syria. At least 10 terrorists were killed and extensive damage was caused during mysterious attacks near Aleppo and eastern Syria this week.

No response from Iran, Hezbollah or anyone else. They are in their bunkers, praying for a Biden election victory or some other unlikely miracle to save them.


Coronavirus in Israel

The numbers of coronavirus infections continue to increase in Israel and the government has now decided to impose a national lockdown. The lockdown will start a few hours before Rosh Hashanah and extend between 2-3 weeks.

Schools and many businesses will be closed and movement will be heavily restricted. The hope is to bring down infection levels to between 500-1,000 a day.

It’s a very difficult situation to understand. Do these measures actually do anything and are they worth the price to society? Unclear. What is clear is that I wish you all a very happy, healthy and sweet new year. Shana tova!


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Rabbi Ben Packer is the director of the Jerusalem Heritage House.