February 10, 2020
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
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.
SEVEN THINGS TO KNOW AFTER FEBRUARY SEVEN
Keep your seat belt fashioned. Things may begin to heat up in Israel and the Palestinian area. Always an explosive situation, the Trump Peace Plan may have lit a fuse. Here’s Seven Key Points that the media in Israel is saying is immediately ahead.
1. Attack o’clock: A string of attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank Thursday have pushed tensions simmering just below the surface into full view, raising fears of a fresh wave of violence.
The front page headline in Yedioth Ahronoth reads “Non-stop terror,” which like other tabloids and TV news, is a mix of jingoism, fear and blame casting.
Just don’t mess up: “Don’t try us,” threatens Israel Hayom on its front page. The media focus is on troops being beefed up in the West Bank, Jerusalem and near Gaza. “The string of attacks in the West Bank have an especially flammable potential,” writes Israel Hayom columnist Yoav Limor. “It requires Israel to act with determination, but also smartly, in order to avoid turning this into a mass, deadly wave.”
3. Mistakes were made: The need for not messing up seems obvious, but it apparently was not heeded a day earlier, in Jenin, where Israel went in to demolish a home, leading to intense clashes and a Palestinian police cadet being killed, apparently by accident, after he was misidentified as a terrorist. Such sparks lit forest fires.
4. Mistakes were claimed: Meanwhile, the media reports on car-rammer Sanad al-Turman Friday, focusing on his claim that it was an accident and he lost control of his car, careening into a group of soldiers before fleeing the scene.
• Television news reports that Israeli authorities didn’t believe him for a second. “Firstly, the sources say, the car-rammer blew through a checkpoint while trying to escape [toward the West Bank] — even though soldiers there did not have guns drawn.”
The meaning? “I’m ready for war,” the channel reports.
5. Intifadeal: But the real blame is not pointed at the attackers but rather Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Donald Trump. There seems to be no doubt that the failing deal is to blame for the attacks.
• “The writing was on the wall from the moment Abbas spoke out publicly against the ‘deal of the century’,’” writes Amir Buhbut in Walla! news. “Abbas is sending double messages to the Palestinian public, not calling for violence … but not hurrying to put out the fires in flashpoint spots.”
• Television news reports that among those blaming Abbas is the architect of the plan, Jared Kushner, calling his comments a “harsh attack.”
6. Ehud-sucker proxy: Most other Israeli outlets focus on Kushner’s comments calling out a planned meeting and press conference between former prime minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas.
• “Olmert is voluntarily volunteering to give credence to the claim pushed by Abbas that only Netanyahu is to blame for the lack of a peace deal,” he writes. “While Abbas is backing ‘days of rage’ Olmert is enlisting to shield him, and hurting not just Netanyahu, but all of us.”
7. If you annex it, it is no dream: Israel Hayom’s Nadav Shragai looks on the bright side of things. Abbas’s rejection means it’s time to rock out with your annexation unfreezing pens out.
• Shragai adds that if Netanyahu cannot start annexing because the US wants him to wait until after elections, he can at least unfreeze building in parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank known as E-1 and Givat Hamatos, stopped because of bitter international opposition.
• “Diplomatic sources say that Netanyahu is devoting hours every day, either directly with the Trump administration or through pressure from Trump’s Evangelical supporters trying to extract something before the Israeli election, some kind of mini-annexation, anything to appease his disappointed base.
Sound ominous? It is.
You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers