April 18, 2022
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.
UKRAINE AND ISRAEL
With my grandson Mike in Jerusalem, I am receiving eye-witness reports on what is happening on the street as well as in politics. The uproar in the Temple Mount this week was almost predictable as Passover, Ramadan, and Easter came in the same period. By and large, Israelis blew it off as just another “one of those things” caused by Palestinians throwing rocks and seeking confrontation.
However, the United States expressed its “deep concern” over the Friday morning violence at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, where hundreds of Palestinian worshipers clashed with Israeli police in scenes akin to those that prefaced last May’s Gaza war. “We call on all sides to exercise restraint, avoid provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount,” the State Department reported. Under the current 54-year-old status quo, Muslims can pray at the holy site while Jews are allowed to visit under heavy restrictions, in a predetermined route and only for several hours on weekdays but not pray there.
On the European front, the view was distinctly different.
The final hours before Passover found the chief rabbi for Kyiv and Ukraine in a cemetery. Before he could mark the Jewish people’s escape from slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago, he was burying a man felled by a more modern danger: a Russian bullet.
Rabbi Moshe Azman doesn’t know how many Jewish people have been killed in Russia’s invasion. But on Friday, on a rural hillside, he buried one more. “People of all nationalities, they are in this tragedy,” he lamented. This Passover, “I pray to God he will make miracles, the way he made miracles for the Jewish people in Egypt,” the rabbi said.
Viktoria Kovalenko bore witness to the death of her husband and elder daughter when their car was hit by a shell in northern Ukraine. By the time her loved ones got a proper funeral, she was 500 kilometers (310 miles) away, able to watch the burial only on a cellphone video sent to her by relatives. Even in the relative peace of Lviv, a city little touched by violence in the war with Russia, it was an ordeal she couldn’t endure.
“Tears do not let me watch until the end,” she cried as she played the video in a wooded area where she was pushing her one-year-old daughter Varvara in a stroller.
On this Easter Sunday, over 2,000 years after the crucifixion and resurrection we are still witnessing the battle between destruction and resurrection. Gives one a sobering thought.
Readers of my Wise on the Middle East blog will be fascinated by my latest book MIRACLES NEVER CEASE!