Photo Credit: Jewish Press

In this week’s update, I interview U.S. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. Just kidding, that lady appears to be quite nuts. But her zaniness doesn’t bother me like the evil of “the Squad.” Just doesn’t.

 

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Corona in Israel

The numbers (of both new and serious infections) are slightly lower this week, although the death toll tragically continues to climb. Nonetheless, Israel is no longer under complete lockdown.

There are no longer any restrictions on travel within the country. Most stores remain closed, but restaurants are open for take-out. I love take-out!  Schools will begin to be gradually opened starting this Thursday. The airport is still closed – until at least March 21.

The continued spread of the virus is mostly being attributed to the “British Mutation.” This strand of the virus has attacked much younger people and specifically late-term pregnant women. Upwards of 70 pregnant and just-after-birth women have been in serious condition in hospitals over the past two weeks.

Thankfully, many of them are doing much better, as are their babies. Let’s hope and pray they all get completely better and go home soon. As a result of the situation, young people and pregnant women are now being highly encouraged to get vaccinated ASAP.

 

Elections in Israel

The final lists for parties running for the Knesset were all submitted by last Thursday night. And there were some surprises. Many mergers were expected which just didn’t happen. Here’s what did happen:

* The Arab Joint List – previously four diverse Arab parties together – broke up, and one of the four will be running on its own. It is currently polling below the electoral threshold. The other three parties will continue to run together.

* On the left, the parties not polling higher than the electoral threshold decided not to run instead of merging with other parties. This includes Ron Huldai’s party, The Israelis. Apparently, he won’t be prime minister, after all. I, for one, am shocked. I thought he was right on the cusp.

* On the right, the Religious Zionist party and Otzma Yehudit (which already made a deal with Noam) reached an agreement to run together. At the very last minute, the new head of Bayit Yehudi, Hagit Moshe, decided not to join them and then decided not to run at all.

She endorsed Naftali Bennett’s party. This will be the first time that Bayit Yehudi – previously called Mafdal – won’t be in the Knesset since the founding of the state.

Moshe blamed Betzalel Smotrich for trying to “erase” her party, but her party is polling at .3 percent, so it seems like it’s more the voters who were trying to do that.

* Prime Minister Netanyahu placed an Arab on the Likud list – number 39 – for the first time ever. Not sure how seriously anyone is taking it, but I personally think he has a pretty good chance of getting in, at least at some point down the line.

* Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party is officially running – no idea why.

 

Bedouin Break-Ins

There were two incidents of note this week concerning Bedouins breaking into military bases in the south of the country. These things actually happen constantly. This week, military equipment was stolen from one base.

However, that’s nothing compared to the second incident. A Bedouin car thief was trying to escape police and drove onto a “very secure” air force base. The base reportedly houses very serious aircraft, including F35s.

The special forces unit of the Air Force, Shaldag, was brought in to search for the thief, but he was able to escape by climbing over numerous fences without being apprehended. On the one hand, you got to admit his escape is pretty impressive. On the other, to quote Joe Biden, c’mon, man!

Golan Heights

Robinhood’s former sidekick in “Men in Tights,” A. Blinken, who is now the U.S. Secretary of State, said this week that the Golan Heights should remain part of Israel for now because of all the trouble with Syria.

Prime Minister Netanyahu was quick to respond that the Golan Heights will always be part of Israel. Seems obvious. Is this guy blind or something? Probably only the beginning…

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