Photo Credit: Jewish Press

This week Israel commemorates both Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Very powerful and emotional days. This year they fall out during the beginning of the Muslim month of Ramadan, which moves nomadically around the calendar like a Bedouin.

Undoubtedly, there were many wondering how this was all going to work out logistically. We’re just at the beginning of the commemorations, but I can report this so far: When the loudspeakers from the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount kept making noise leading up to the Yom HaZikaron ceremony at the Kotel, Israeli security forces just shut them off.


Jordan is angry, but the speakers are silent. Some things are just so much easier than folks think.


Israel Keeps Pounding Away on Iran

In a widely-reported attack, universally attributed to Israel, a single explosion, or a series of explosions, caused significant damage to an Iranian nuclear plant this week. Some reports suggest that the effects were felt as far as 50 meters underground.

The Iranian nuclear program was definitely set back – some estimate up to nine months. Additionally, it just doesn’t look good for Iran – another attack on its own soil.


Iran Responds, Sort Of

Seemingly in response to the attack, Iran targeted an Israeli-owned commercial vessel off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. A missile was fired at the ship, but caused little damage and the ship continued on its way. Iran also claims to have attacked a “Mossad outpost” in northern Iraq and captured Israeli spies in Iran. Unclear how true either of these things are.

What must be true is that Iran must be plenty annoyed by all these successful Israeli attacks. Maybe just enough to make a mistake big enough to really get them hit hard. Tough spot to be in. Maybe supporting constant terrorism wasn’t the best move.


Governing Coalition Construction Effort Continues

Prime Minister Netanyahu, after receiving the mandate to form a coalition government from President Rivlin, continues to try to do just that. Negotiations are continuing with Naftali Bennett and his Yamina party about joining a possible Netanyahu-led government. However, this still would not give Netanyahu enough seats to form a government. He would still be short two.

Some analysts are suggesting that Bennett is betting on the status quo to continue, and after Netanyahu’s time is up and he fails to successfully form a 61-seat coalition, Bennett will jump in and attempt to form a government, with him as prime minister, with the left-wing parties. Bennett is pretty quiet about this but has been very vocal that he will do anything to prevent another election.

In short, so far, no one is actually budging. Netanyahu’s deadline is May 2. There’s a lot of fasting between now and then for the Muslims.


Coronavirus in Israel

All bad numbers continue to decrease. There are currently about 3,000 positive cases in the country in total. Of those, about 230 are serious condition cases. Sadly, the death toll has reached 6,300.

As a result of the positive numbers, it is expected that masks will no longer be required outdoors as of next week. More importantly, it has been announced that foreign tourist groups will start being allowed into the country in late May. Obviously this is a really big deal for a large segment of the economy and a long-awaited announcement.


Massive Success for Ateret Cohanim and the Jewish People in Jerusalem

Last week, the Ateret Cohanim organization entered three properties that it purchased in the Kfar Shiloach/Silwan neighborhood, just south of the Old City of Jerusalem. The recently-acquired buildings can house up to 15 families. The additional families will almost double the current size of the local Jewish community to approximately 40 families.

One can see the large Israeli flags waving from the buildings from quite a distance. The Jewish presence in Jerusalem has undoubtedly been significantly strengthened by this successful operation and one gets the feeling that there is much more to come! Kol hakavod to Ateret Cohanim!

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