BLOG 444
September 16, 2019



Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.


In these weekly responses, I have attempted to be objective. Rather than being persuaded by political circumstances or opinion, I attempt to let the chips fall where they may. One reader complained that I didn’t fully support Prime Minister Netanyahu and she thought he was wonderful. I pointed out that thinking any political figure was wonderful was the quickest way to be deceived and never see the light at the end of the tunnel. Didn’t suit her, but I pointed out that I went where the facts led. End of story.

In order to understanding the never-ending conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, one must consider both sides. Currently, Americans tend to consider only the Israeli position. The unequivocal total support by President Donald Trump has colored the picture considerably.

However, there are two sides.

The issues between Israel and the Arabs remains complex. Hatred exists in both camps.

Here’s some of the current problems on the Israeli side. The current government often talks of annexing the West Bank, but almost never of peace initiatives with the Palestinians.

While it is true Israel respects and often exceeds the standards of human rights and the Palestinians generally do not, Israel has the greatest military capability in the Middle East. Israel causes far more damage to the Palestinians, including citizens. Israel protects its citizens far better than the Palestinians can.

One of the biggest problems is that Israel builds settlements on Palestinians land but will not give Palestinians the right to do the same. The constant encroachment on Palestinian territory remains one of the most divisive issues that halts a peace treaty.

One of the thorniest issues between Israelis and Arabs is reflected in the fact that Israel has a substantial minority of Arabs while Arab countries do not allow Jews.  On the other hand, Israel often acts like a colonizer. The birth of the Israel nation also displaced ancestral land of some Palestinians. That issue has never been settled. Fifty-two years later Palestinians must still struggle for self-determination.

Israelis refuse to admit there is an occupation. However, Palestinians experience a painful and humiliating daily reality. I have seen this every time I’ve been in the Holy Land and was there last March. The prejudice against using a Palestinian Christian guide inside Israel makes it impossible for them to work inside Israel. In turn, Jewish guides are shut out of Bethlehem. The situation remains impossible and volatile.

My point? Don’t listen to only one side of this complicated situation. Recognize more is going on that is seldom fully and objectively reported. The complexity demands tolerance and careful consideration of all sides of the issues.

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