Category Archives: America

RECOGNITION OF THE GOLAN HEIGHTS

BLOG 427 April 8, 2019

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST ~ Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD 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.

What about President Trump’s recent announced recognition of the Golan Heights belonging to Israel? Under international law Israel’s seizure and holding of the land is considered illegal. The Geneva Conventions consider settlements in such an area to be unlawful. So, what’s going on? Politics.

Israel’s election is tomorrow and Prime Minister Netanyahu needed an extra push at the polls. Trump gave him a significant push. This viewpoint is held by the Jewish residents of the Golan Heights. The March 31 edition of the Los Angles Times calls their perspective on the recognition “tepid.” The inhabitants of the Golan fear Trump’s public recognition will upset the apple-cart in what has been an extended period of peace in their history. Even though Syria and Israel have been mutually hostile, the Golan community has been left alone. They worry that while Netanyahu got a boost, they could end up getting the boot.

However, that’s only one part of the story.

Israelis firmly reject any hint of giving this area back because of their need for security. In the beginning, Syrians sat on these heights and shot farmers until Israel cleaned them out.

Give it back? They point to America acquiring California, New Mexico, and Texas. Would America give this land back to Mexico? Americans ready to give back land to the Indians? Absolutely not!

This past history reminds us that Israel is often squeezed to maintain a double standard in which the rest of the world wouldn’t participate.

The analogy makes the point.

A recent International Jerusalem Post editorial reminds us that Israel tried to negotiate some form of settlement over this area with Syria, but those attempts went nowhere. Since then Syria has slid into chaos and President Assad is an international pariah. No future there.

What did America lose through President Trump’s proclamation? Significantly, other Arab states will be more reluctant to negotiate with America. Moreover, the announcement is a gift to Assad, giving him a rallying point to gain more support for his beleaguered nation.  This result is part of the reason that Israeli residents are hesitant to be enthused about the move.

Nevertheless, the recognition is applauded by most Israelis.

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BETRAYAL IN THE MIDDLE EAST? Part III

BLOG 419 January 28, 2019

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST ~ Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, 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.

Last week I began with the statement. “Let’s face the facts. The enemy is Assad and the threat is Iran and Russia.  ISIS remains fighting and is not defeated.  In the following week there has been a flurry of activity supporting that reality.

Because of President Donald Trump’s arbitrary statement that the US was pulling out of Syria, frightening repercussions have followed. The Jerusalem Report magazine reported Trump saying he was giving a Christmas present to US troops. Reporter Yossi Melman said, “His decision is, in fact, a Christmas gift to US enemies and rivals, above all Russia and Iran, and indirectly China, and a bombshell dropped on Israel and the Sunni Arab world.”

Apparently, this is a gift that keeps on giving.

In the area of southern Syria, a new order is emerging. Assad is settling accounts with rebels who worked with Israel and Western countries during the rebellion. The central role in this surfacing new order has begun taken by Iran and its allies. Iran has begun to surface as the force behind the Assad throne. Without the stabilizing effect of US troops, the government has a free hand to do as it pleases. After announcing an amnesty to the rebels if they would “normalize their status,” the Syrian government has actually begun killing the former rebels that were promised pardon. The body of Ghanim al-Jamous, former head of the Syrian Police in the town of Dael was found on the roadside. Enough said?

Meanwhile, Senator Lindsay Graham flew to Turkey to meet with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erodogan to quiet the flap in which Erodogan called Trump a traitor after the American president made conflicting promises to Erodogan. Graham is calling for a much, much slower withdrawal that is smarter than Trump’s announcement. Turkey had refused to allow security adviser John Bolton to come to Turkey because of his threats that Kurds would be protected by the US. During the visit Graham contradicted Trump’s statement that ISIS had been defeated. Senator Graham’s concern was that the entire situation could turn into another dangerous mess.

“Really? How big a mess do we already have in Syria? Sitting across the ocean, it is easy to pontificate about quick pull outs, etc.. It is an entirely different matter when you are in Israel or a Kurd or a former rebel that will now face certain death.

American politicians can debate whether the US should be there at all. However, we are. We can’t turn our backs on our responsibilities because it is politically expedient to do so.

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BETRAYAL IN THE MIDDLE EAST? Part II

BLOG 418 January 21, 2019

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST ~ Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, 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.

Last week I concluded with the statement. “Let’s face the facts. The enemy is Assad and the threat is Iran and Russia.  ISIS remains fighting and is not defeated.

One week later, the headlines in the media screamed, “Syria Attack kills 4 U.S. Citizens.” The suicide bombing killed at least 16 people. The Associated Press reported, “The strategic northeastern town of Manbij highlighted the threat posed by the Islamic State group despite Trump’s claims.” In seven days, the reports confirmed the fact that ISIS is far from dead.

The arbitrary and abrupt withdrawal of US troops has left the door open not only for more killing of American personnel, but for a power play that will further destabilize the region. Who is applauding the sudden retreat of the USA?  Russian and Iran.

The foregoing is not my opinion, but what allies and particularly Israel are currently saying.

What further complicates the situation are the divergent opinions expressed by National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo trying to assure the Kurds and Israel that Trump didn’t really mean what he said. Yet, the most recent reports seem to indicate military equipment is  currently being withdrawn. Who knows what the reality of the situation actually is! The impression one receives is that informed leaders in the current administration are trying to temper Trump’s uninformed decision.

The immediate wild-card is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodgan. On December 14, 2018, President Trump said Erodgan assured him Turkey would not attack the Kurds. On December 17, 2018, Erodgan reiterated his threat to attack the Kurds. If that threat is carried out, one of America’s most faithful and consistent allies are open to an assault from the Turks.

Even though a NATO ally, Turkey has been on a path of authoritarianism and support for the Sunni faction of Islam. In addition, Erodgan has been deliberately increasing his ties with Russia. This situation makes Trump’s talk of withdrawal all the more ominous.

So, where are we? Not in a good place!

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BETRAYAL IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

BLOG 417 January 14, 2019

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST ~ Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, 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 blogs, I attempt to express an objective analysis of the Middle East situation regardless of my personal political viewpoints. In these times of political chaos in America with the government shut-down, political parties locked in turmoil, and the stock market sliding because of the political instability, it is difficult to keep these elements out of the Middle Eastern war. Nevertheless, the following is what appears to be the reality of the situation.

President Donald Trump’s abrupt and totally unexpected decision to pull America out of Syria has brought more chaos to the region. After Secretary Rex Tillerson left office, he noted that Trump didn’t read much and paid little attention to memos. (He also called Trump a moron while in office) Unfortunately, it now appears Tillerson knew exactly what he was talking about. Trump’s ill-timed pronouncement has further deteriorated America’s role in creating stability in the region.

The problem began with President Obama drawing a red-line in Syria and then doing nothing when it was crossed. Obama’s lack of forceful leadership left the door open for the Russians and Iranians to rush up. The result was that Bashar Assad was not toppled and those two dictatorships were more entrenched than ever.

President Trump said he had assurances from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey would not attack the Kurds. Now, Erdogan implies Trump is a traitor and said they would make no concessions in regard to the Kurds. During the Syrian civil war, the Kurds had been America’s firmest allies. Have they now been hung out to dry by both Trump and Erdogan?

Secretary of State Pompeo immediately spoke to assure the Kurds they would be safe after the US leaves. During this trip, Pompeo made an unscheduled stop in Iraq to attempt to quiet fears the Americas are abandoning the region and retreating from a fight with ISIS. Pompeo attempted to maintain America still stood with the Kurds.

Meanwhile, Security Advisor John Bolton was whisked off to Israel to attempt to quiet Israeli fears that the US was turning the ship around and running. Leaving the door wide open in Syria for Iranian advances caused Trump’s stock with Israel to drop lower than the decline in the American stock market!

The administration is suddenly hedging their bets saying any withdrawal will come slowly … and yet news reports say equipment is now being withdrawn. Really? Who is running this show?

Far from ending anything, Trump’s pronouncement has only further increased fear and vulnerability for Israel and other countries in the region.

Regardless of what promises Trump campaigned on, an American President is expected to make decisions on the current conditions and not abandon world leadership simply because attention needs to be diverted away from their own personal scandals.

Let’s face the facts. The enemy is Assad and the threat is Iran. ISIS remains fighting and is not defeated.

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THE AMAZING IRON DOME

BLOG 407 October 22, 2018 ~ WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST ~ 

Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, 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.

Anyone who follows the Middle East situation has heard of the Iron Dome. The system has proven to be an extraordinary defense against rocket attacks because it shoots down rockets while they are flying through the air. Here’s some additional information I think you’ll find interesting.

In 2006, Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon started firing rockets into North Israel. In five weeks they fired 4,000 rockets. About a fourth of these landed in highly populated areas. They would obviously get better with time and something had to be done.

Chanoch and Ditz Levin had just moved from the USA to Israel. Levin had been employed working with explosive devices and knew how to approach the problem. However, he had to first convince the Israeli government that he could handle the job. Moreover, he was given a limited amount of time and money to work on the project. The project had to cost less than $100, 000 and be ready in 30 months.

American defense contractors offered various products that might do the job, but they were turned down. Levin’s idea was to build interceptor missiles that could track and destroy incoming rockets. Interception was particularly tricky has it had to occur in microseconds when the enemy rocket was coming head-to-head. A team was assembled including 25-year old Tzipi. Her engineer’s job was to crawl into the launching tubes for electronic hook-up purposes. The workers had to make sure she was out of the shoots before they left at night.

On April 7, 2011 at the first trial of Levin’s invention, the rockets didn’t fire. A careful analysis revealed two wires had been wrongly placed. Once corrected, the Iron Dome device fired. They were on their way! On August 20, 2011, Hamas fired 11 missiles simultaneously at the city of Beersheba. The Iron Dome intercepted most of them. Since then the rate of success has only increased.  What Chanoch and Levin invented has spawned other highly similar devices that intercept rockets.

While not technologically perfect, the Iron Dome system has taken away from Hamas and Hezbollah one of their key weapons and their ability to create bloodshed. The Israeli army can relax when the enemy starts firing rockets and the Air Force doesn’t have to attack the terrorist’s launchers. When Iran’s Revolutionary Guard fired rockets from Syria, the system shot them down.

Israel has achieved an international reputation for creating electronic devices. For example, the USB “flash drive” now used everywhere in computers was invented in Israel. However, the Iron Dome stands at the top of the list for stopping destruction and saving lives.

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HEY! IT’S VACATION TIME

BLOG 401 July 9, 2018

With the heat of summer comes the relief of sitting by a nice swimming pool and soaking your feet in the cool water. Maybe. Most of us are so hard at work we don’t have time.

    During the next two months I’ll be traveling, finishing up book projects, and out of sight in the mountains. Consequently, I won’t be writing blogs again until after September 1. In the mean time, the new Early Faith for Today website will continue. If you haven’t tuned us in yet, summer offers an opportunity. The Christian faith is presented as it was in the first three centuries with application for today. Check it out.

Have a wonderful summer and I’ll see you in the fall.

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WORTH REMEMBERING ON INDEPENDENCE DAY

Blog 400 July 2, 2018

By Photograph by D Ramey Logan, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37298835

On the base of the Statue of Liberty are engraved these words:

Give me your tired, your poor,

your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me.

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

We do well to remember that we are all immigrants. Some recent, some long ago, but we all came from some other land to this country. Some of our ancestors came through Ellis Island, as well as other ports of entry, but they were the homeless and the tired. Struggling to escape poverty and the pogroms of Europe, our fathers and mothers landed on this shore seeking to walk through the golden door.

In this time of struggle and debate over immigration , let us remember this country was built and sustained by “the least of these” as well as the best. Let us never  forget the world still looks to America to find for the golden door.

They all want in. No one wants out. I hope you have a blessed and safe July 4th holiday.

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Memorial Day

Sorry, Friends. I’m out of pocket. My daughter is graduating with her doctorate degree from the University of California and I have to be there. The following week, Margueritte and I will be traveling, but I’ll be back with you on June 4, 2018.

Memorial Day weekend is a sobering time as we remember and honor those who have fallen in defending this country. In our families, we make our own private journeys to the graves of those we loved and lost. Bless you in such moments of remembrance.

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THE SYRIAN – IRANIAN SITUATION

BLOG 396 May 21, 2018

   Israel’s recent strikes on Iranian installations inside Syria has raised new questions about what is going on as well as what’s next. Let’s see if we can make some sense out of the situation.

    Back in February, the Iranians flew a drone carrying explosives into Israel. The Israeli defense system allowed the drone to enter their territory before bringing it down because they wanted to make a close inspection of the unmanned aircraft. They found that it was essentially a copy of the US stealth drone that had been downed in 2011. However, the fact that the Iranian drone carried explosives amounted to a military attack on Israel. The Iranian action actually gave Israel additional insight into the Iranian military situation.

In his book, Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change, former Israeli security adviser Charles Freilich argues that Israelis should be very concerned about Iranian influence in Syria because they are attempting to establish air, naval, and ground bases. If they succeed, they could well merge Syria with Lebanon and end up hemming Israel in from two sides. Such a situation would have catastrophic consequences for Israel. Therefore, Freilich concludes that Israel must never allow this to occur.

A major doctrine that has guided Israel since the days of Ben-Gurion is that because of Israel’s demographic vulnerability and geographic narrowness, they must be prepared to make pre-emptive strikes. This was most effectively done in 1967 when Egypt was preparing to go to war against Israel. In a sweeping blow, they wiped out the Egyptian air force. The pre-emptive strike more than gives the enemy pause to reflect. The action has proved to be an important deterrent.

The drone invasion gave Israel an effective reason to hit Iranian installations. This puts Israel in the position of saying they were only defending themselves. Even the man on the street in Tehran would reason that self-protection is to be expected. Currently the top Iranian ayatollah has been faced with unrest in the streets. The Supreme Leader may be reaching for the Mediterranean, but at home he’s got a mess.

The recent Israeli strikes are part of a larger strategy. Israel simply will not allow Iran to achieve their long range goal!

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Surveying the first 3 centuries, we are examining the ancient Christian faith.
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THE ON-GOING STRUGGLE

BLOG 393 April 30, 2018

    The past several weeks have reported the seemingly endless story of struggle in Israeland with the Palestinians. A border uprising in Gaza has sent hundreds of Palestinian protesters surging toward the Israeli border and checkpoints. Or course, the Israelis were armed opposition and the result was at least three Palestinians killed and 611 wounded.

Hamas is always behind these attacks from Gaza. The terrorist organization broke with the PLO some years ago and still battles for control of the entire West Bank. They periodically use demonstrations to cover their tracks while forcing these skirmishes. Recently, throwing rocks and burning tires has become a weekly ritual at the wall between Israel and Gaza. IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) are always prepared 24-7.

In this last go- round, demonstrators starting trying to cut the wire meant to hold them back. At that point, Israeli tanks wheeled into action and fired tear gas. The protestors dispersed.

Often these encounters are meant to embarrass Israel and bring psychological pressure on the west. The picture always portrays highly armed Israeli soldiers confronting poor Palestinians who have nothing but stone throwing children to protect themselves. Uninformed Americans make an easy target.

The real truth is that the Palestinians won’t settle with Israel because their actual goal is to drive Israel into the ocean. The leader of Hamas has made himself into an extremely wealthy man who manipulates rather than leads toward a positive end. Since my first visit to Israel in 1968, I have watched Israel expand and grow from a struggling people to one of the premier countries in the Middle East and the world. At the same time, the Palestinians have not even been able to pay their daily bills without international assistance. If Israel stopped giving the tax money collected on their behalf, their government would sink in a week.

Get the picture?

Israel is not always right and the Palestinians are not always wrong. Both sides have made serious mistakes. However, time has not been on the side of the Palestinians. Their refusal to bargain to an honest settlement has only cost them and continues to marginalize their cause.

The never-ending presidency of Mahmoud Abbas with still no elections in sight helped create the problem of a separation between Ramallah and the Gaza Strip. When President Donald Trump decided to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestinians screamed, hollered, and threatened everything but World War III. However, the rest of the Arab world looked the other way. They know the truth about Abbas and the Palestinians.

What’s next? Probably more demonstrations then everyone goes home. There will be a few shouts of “shadhid” (Arabic for martyr), then the noise will fade. Just another day at the office.

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