Photo Credit: Jewish Press

This week it seems Israel will be commemorating Chanukah by celebrating the Greek invention of democracy in its modern independent state! Unless something really weird happens, elections are coming!

Elections in Israel

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Possibly as early as this week, a new date will soon be selected for Knesset elections – the fourth such elections in two years! They are likely to take place in March, between Purim and Pesach. Because of the desire not to have to count votes on Pesach, election officials say “the earlier, the better.”

At this point, it seems the jack is out of the box and new elections are a done deal. Folks are already starting to maneuver. Here’s what’s happened so far:

* Gidon Saar, long-time and perennial prominent member of the Likud Party, has announced that he’s bolting from the party and starting a new party called “New Hope.” Despite that being a stupid name for a party (although a great name for a Star Wars movie), it appears additional current Knesset members of Likud will be joining Saar as well.

The reason Saar gave for making this dramatic move is his inability to get along with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Although placing very high on the Likud candidate list in previous elections, Saar was not appointed to be a minister in the current government, which is a bit nuts, since there are a crazy number of ministers in the current government.

Clearly Prime Minister Netanyahu was out for revenge since Saar previously challenged him (not very seriously) for the head of Likud. It’s hard for me to see who would vote for this party, especially considering the ridiculous name (is Barack Obama on the candidate list?).

* Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, has said that only he can practically challenge Netanyahu for the leadership of the country. This role was previously played by Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party who then joined with Netanyahu to form the current coalition government.

That must have been a real kick in the pants to Lapid. This time he’s being more assertive. It’s cute – he has no realistic chance – but it’s cute nonetheless.

* Yair Golan is moving to Meretz. Since he previously compared Israel to Nazi Germany, I’m sure he will be welcomed in the Judaism-hating Meretz party with open… armbands.

* Besides playing a major role in leading the country towards new elections, Benny Gantz has stayed pretty quiet, which I guess means that he’s already “actively” campaigning. Joe Biden must have learned his bombastic campaigning skills from Gantz.

* Moshe Yaalon said that he will be running with another former chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot. Eisenkot denies this. That’s pretty awkward.

* There are reports that efforts are being made to avoid elections by switching up the coalition members. Everyone potentially involved pretty much denies these reports. Therefore, they are definitely taking place.

I’d say it’s unlikely for the switch-up to occur, but Prime Minister Netanyahu has been clear that he would prefer elections to be put off a bit, so…

Corona (Covid) in Israel

The trend continues this week with an increase in the number of Israelis infected with the novel coronavirus. Just a few weeks ago, the virus was generally limited to the Arab community. So much for the whole “Apartheid” thing over here – now it’s everywhere again.

The government decided to implement a night curfew for Chanukah to try to stifle the spread. However, it has subsequently backtracked on this idea for a plethora of reasons – including the fact that it might be illegal and unenforceable.

Millions of doses of vaccines against the virus made by Pfizer are scheduled to arrive in Israel on Thursday. They are being delivered by DHL. You would have thought that for something this important they’d go with UPS for delivery. At least it’s not the US Postal Service. Could end up in Iran, and not even on purpose.

Iran’s Revenge

Iran’s only real response so far to the recent assassination of the head of its nuclear program is to announce that the current leader of Iran will soon be joining him. As the country song goes, “When it rains, it pours.” Love that song.

In Other News…

Extreme leftist Israeli Supreme Court member Menny Mazuz announced he’s retiring, so I got my Chanukah present early this year! Happy Chanukah!

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