Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The big news this week in Israel is the public confirmation by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that Russia is actively searching for the body of legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen in Syria.

It’s reported that a personal item of Cohen has been found and sent to Israel for confirmation. Of course, Netanyahu cited his personal relationship with judo master and president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, as the reason for Russia’s efforts on this matter.

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He went as far as to say that without the warm relationship that the two enjoy, there could have been war between Israel and Russia. Classic Bibi. #bestcampaignerever! More on that soon.

 

Coronavirus in Israel

Much to the relief of everyone, it doesn’t appear that any spike in new infections resulted from the recent Purim festivities. The number of serious cases continues to drop and will likely reach below 600 in the near future.

The number of overall cases continues to decline as well. This despite the recent opening of pretty much all businesses and schools throughout Israel.

Meanwhile, over five million Israelis have received the first dose of the vaccine and almost four million have received the second one. (Three million Israelis are under age 16 and not currently eligible for vaccination.)

Prime Minister Netanyahu says that all adults will be vaccinated by the end of April. I have no idea why he thinks that will happen. Unless of course he’s planning some serious punishments for those last one million who haven’t chosen to be vaccinated yet.

It’s pretty easy to get it. Israel is even giving vaccines to Arab workers from Judea and Samaria now. The Palestinian Authority is supposed to be handling that, but apparently it has better things to do – like paying terrorists’ salaries.

 

Elections in Israel

Two weeks to go until Election Day and Prime Minister Netanyahu has started to actively campaign. Yair Lapid, the head of the second biggest party in the polls, continues to refuse to say much of anything, just like Joe Biden did. Unfortunately for Lapid, we don’t have mail-in voting in Israel.

Recent polls suggest that Gidon Saar’s “New Hope” party is imploding. The latest polls have it receiving just nine seats. It appears that some of his previous supporters are now opting for either Netanyahu or Lapid.

This is not really surprising at all. As Netanyahu continues to boast of his many, many –seemingly endless – accomplishments, he’s winning over some voters and further alienating others, which is driving them toward a somewhat viable (in a parallel universe) alternative, which is the second-place vote-getter in the polls, Yair Lapid.

So far, Naftali Bennett continues to rise in the polls and his party is now polling in third place overall. This is quite impressive, but Netanyahu still has two weeks to take voters from Bennett, like he has consistently done in the past.

Both Saar and Bennett have promised not to sit in a government led by Lapid. Saar has also promised not to sit in a government led by Netanyahu. He’s kind of painted himself into a corner. I suppose he could potentially sit in a government led by Bennett, which previously didn’t make sense since he was polling higher than him, but now it seems more reasonable.

The problem is that the math just isn’t there. In order for either Bennett or Saar to actually challenge Netanyahu’s continued leadership, they have to take a significant amount of supporters of Likud away from Likud, and that isn’t happening.

In short, if Bennett retains his polling numbers, he will be able to join a Netanyahu-led government, something he has not ruled out, in a very strong position.

No one is publicly called for Benny Gantz to drop out of the race this week. They probably realize that he just won’t listen to reason, like Prince Harry. Some train wrecks just can’t be avoided, like Meghan Markle. If only the Queen would tell Gantz to quit already…

 

Briefs…

* The Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) is just 45 centimeters (that’s about 18 inches for you patriotic Americans) from being full. With the rainy season ending, it’s unlikely that it will make it to the top. But rain is forecast for the end of this week, so you never know!

* There was another attempted, and thankfully failed, terrorist attack on the Sdei Efraim farm in the Binyamin region, just northwest of Jerusalem.

It appears the place has become the Empire State Building for Arabs with family issues. This time the female terrorist wasn’t killed, which must have been a real bummer for her. But I guess now that her family will get tons of money from the PA, I suppose they may value her more.

* The young lady that recently crossed the border into Syria was indicted by an Israeli court for the crime of being an idiot.

* Iranian proxies in Iraq continued to shoot at U.S. forces there and Iranian proxies in Yemen continued to shoot at Saudi Arabia. In response, the U.S. flew two B-52 Bombers over the Middle East. Did they forget to actually bomb anyone?

Who knows? Their commander-in-chief forgot what the Pentagon was called this week, so let’s cut the pilots some slack!

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