Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Election activity and Coronavirus continue to be the big issues here in Israel right now. But let’s start with something a little more fun: like how thankfully pathetic Iran is.

Bombing Outside Israeli Embassy in India

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A bomb blew up outside the Israeli embassy in New Delhi, India this week. No serious damage was caused and no one was killed. A terrorist group citing a connection to Iran claimed responsibility and confirmed that Israel was the target. Once again, Iran comes up short.

Subsequently, reports came out of Africa that Iranian agents were scoping out Israeli targets in an east African country, but they were apprehended before anything could develop. Iran claimed it was just looking for a suitable venue for a Black History Month event. Ain’t no one buying that from the country that brought us the word “Aryan.”

The relatively recent eliminations of arch terrorists Imad Mughniyeh and Qasem Soleimani have seemingly set back Iranian terror capabilities significantly. Hey Biden, maybe now is not the best time to throw them a bone, you know? C’mon man!

In the meantime, Iran is pushing full steam ahead with its attempts to acquire the technology to produce nuclear weaponry. And now it’s Israel’s turn to talk threatening smack, including from the Chief of Staff of the IDF himself.

Unlike Iran’s escapades, Israel’s recent punches at Iran have been pretty hard and punishing, so in hip stock market terms, I’d advise shorting Iran at this point. If it isn’t careful, it could end up a lot more obliterated than GameStop stock.

 

Covid-19 in Israel

The number of cases of corona continues to hold steady in Israel, despite the whole country entering the fourth week of a two-week lockdown. This is also despite the fact that over 20 percent of the country is fully vaccinated and over a third of the country has had the first shot.

Blame for the continued spread is mostly being attributed to new mutations of the virus. And anti-Semites are just blaming the charedim.

In reality, the number of overall cases doesn’t and has never mattered. The number of serious cases very much matters, though. Unfortunately, those numbers continue to be high as well, despite many terrible deaths in the last month.

And much younger people, including pregnant women and babies, now seem to be very affected as well, when they weren’t in the recent past. There is heightened fear for soldiers, even though there haven’t been any serious cases yet, and many combat soldiers are being confined to their bases for at least the next few weeks.

Non-combat soldiers continue to come and go as they please because they aren’t real soldiers anyway. They spend half their service on Birthright trips for goodness sakes! Anyway, the lockdown and airport closure continue for now. This seems to be the way it’s going to be until the number of serious cases decreases.

 

Elections

As expected, plenty of drama to report as the deadline for the submission of parties and their official lists of candidates draws near later this week.

It has been expected that smaller parties will begin to merge together in order to ensure they receive enough votes to pass the electoral threshold of 3.25 percent to enter the Knesset with a minimum of four seats. So far, that hasn’t happened. Instead, folks are just quitting.

* Moshe Yaalon, founder of the Telem Party, quit

* Avi Nissenkorn, second place on The Israeli’s Party List, quit

* Omer Yankelevich, “prominent” member of the “Blue and White” party, quit

* Tzipi Livni, a nobody, decided not to run for anything (the nation is distraught)

While we’re making jokes, Naftali Bennett must have heard that I wrote last week that he isn’t as ridiculous in his aspirations to be prime minister as Ron Huldai. How do I know? Because this week he stated that he just needs four more seats and he’ll be able to become prime minister.

The Ashkenazic charedi parties will be running together once again. Their unity is inspiring, especially as long as they aren’t running together with the Sefardic charedi parties. That would be crazy.

Avigdor Lieberman announced he won’t agree to sit in a government coalition that includes the charedim, and I have once again been left off the cover of Sports Illustrated. Tons of disappointing surprises this week!

The Labor Party had a primary to choose their candidates. I think everyone who voted made it into the top 10 spots.

Finally, Betzalel Smotrich continues to lead a party called the “Religious Zionist” party, which excludes most other Religious Zionist parties from running with it. This includes future religious Zionist shoe-in for prime minister, Naftali Bennett.

 

Relations with Kosovo

Muslim-majority Kosovo and Israel officially established diplomatic relations over Zoom this week. Kosovo has declared that it intends to open an embassy in Jerusalem in the near future. Kosovo’s unfriendly neighbor Serbia is none too thrilled about all of this. At the end of the day, despite past friendly ties between Israel and Serbia, relations between Israel and Muslim countries is all the rage – who would have thought?!

I was going to write about the violent crime situation in the Israeli-Arab communities, but this update is long enough already. Let’s just say it’s like the future of women’s sports in America: pretty bad. Pretty, pretty bad.

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