Photo Credit: Jewish Press

This week, Prime Minister Netanyahu invoked the story of Purim and pledged to protect the Jewish people from nefarious Persian plans of annihilation. Meanwhile, someone on a second-rate show in America accused Israel of only giving Covid vaccines to Jews in a pathetic attempt to slander Israel.

A little Purim-based advice to all those who facilitated this blood libel: Folks who fight the Jews don’t do so well.



Corona in Israel

All the bad numbers continue to go down – deaths, overall infections, new infections, serious infections. And the percentage of the population vaccinated (with at least the first shot) has reached 50 percent; that includes virtually all of those “at risk” for serious infections.

Despite these dramatic improvements, though, the airport remains closed, with a certain number of exceptions allowed per day, and the government has decided to impose a night curfew for the duration of Purim, which spans three days this year in Jerusalem and a few other previously-walled cities, like Hevron and Shechem.

The declared intent of the curfew is to prevent large drunken parties/festive gatherings in the evenings. The upcoming video footage of attempted enforcement will be incredible!

In the meantime, most stores and schools re-opened this week, although 7-10th grades are still not legally allowed to meet at school. It seems that some members of the government had some pretty traumatic middle school years, but I’m not sure it justifies their continuing to target these specific grades for torture. And we should at least get to hear some awkward personal stories.


Elections in Israel

One month to go until Election Day! This week’s polls are pretty similar to last week’s polls. Some have Likud a little stronger and some it a little weaker. At this point, it’s safe to say that nobody knows what’s really going to happen.

There are four or five parties hovering around the minimum electoral threshold of four seats. If any number of them fail to pass the threshold in the actual election, that would have a major impact on the potential governing coalition.

Likud has cemented its past partnership with the charedi parties, but the Religious Zionist party and Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party have not joined as of yet. Although no one expects Betzalel Smotrich to abandon Netanyahu, the consensus is that Bennett will be the proverbial kingmaker when it comes to forming a coalition. No one can rule without him/his party.

For now, Yamina is stable with about 11 seats in the polls, but Netanyahu has a month to start pulling those seats towards him, and he’s succeeded consistently at this in the past.


Don’t Take The Girl (Country Music Reference)

In one of the stranger episodes in recent memory, Syria returned (through Russia) an Israeli young woman who had snuck into Syria a few weeks ago. The Israeli citizen clearly suffers from some pretty serious issues.

Prime Minister Netanyahu cited his friendship with President Putin for enabling the smooth and relatively quick resolution of the situation. Thankfully, she did not publicly protest Putin’s rule in any way and was therefore returned unharmed.

Israel returned in exchange two Syrian shepherds who had recently entered Israeli territory and been detained by Israeli security forces to Syria. Was the president of Syria, Dr. Bashar al-Assad, involved in this? He didn’t say much. There are still details of the negotiations that are not public, but one rumor is that Israel purchased Covid vaccines from Russia for Syria.

The misguided adventurous Israeli woman may face potential prosecution since it’s illegal for Israeli citizens to visit countries that Israel is presently in a state of war with. She also had some weird Facebook posts but probably won’t face any Facebook penalties since they weren’t supportive of Israel or the Jewish people.


Oil Spill

It appears there has been a large oil spill in the Mediterranean Sea which recently reached Israeli’s shores. The first sign of trouble was the appearance of a dead 50-foot whale on an Israeli beach. Since then, numerous sea creatures have emerged covered in black residue.

It still remains unclear to the public who is at fault for the spill. It’s believed to be an oil tanker. The official investigation is currently under a gag order in Israel, but some outlets are suggesting that the suspected tanker is of Greek origin.

Israel enjoys pretty good relations with Greece these days, so don’t expect Chanukah II over this incident. Of course, there were some Israelis who blamed the Netanyahu government for not being ready for this highly unlikely event that has never happened before. Got to love those folks.


Huwara Bypass Road Construction Begins

Construction began this week on the Huwara Bypass Road in the Shomron region. The road, when finished, will bypass the hostile Arab village of Huwara and significantly reduce travel time and aggravation (like rock throwing) for motorists traveling to the Jewish communities around Shechem.

Undoubtedly, many Arabs will use the road as well to access the same area. So much for apartheid.

It is reasonable to expect, based on past history, that the improved transportation access will lead to significant growth. The specific communities that will likely benefit are those that were defined by the Trump Peace Plan as isolated “enclaves.” Soon they will be a lot less isolated and a lot more than enclaves!


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