Category Archives: History

BREAKTHROUGH IN MORROCO

BLOG  498

December 14, 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.

BREAKTHROUGH IN MORROCO

Morocco’s ruling monarch King Mohammad VI confirmed Thursday that the country intends to establish official relations with Israel for the first time in nearly twenty years.  Morocco is the fourth Arab nation to recognize Israel in recent months as the administration seeks to expand its “Abraham Accords” framework, which began over the summer with an agreement between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates. Bahrain and Sudan have followed suit and administration officials have also been trying to bring Saudi Arabia into the fold.

The move is likely to raise hackles in Morocco. According to one recent poll, only 16 percent of Moroccans have a favorable view of Israel, while 70% view Israel unfavorably.

Unlike the other countries which have normalized with Israel over the past few months, Morocco has a genuine opposition and civil society. While true power largely lies with the monarchy, the parliament has been controlled by a conservative Islamist party whose roots trace back to the Muslim Brotherhood since 2011.

“Morocco will resume official bilateral contacts and diplomatic relations [with Israel] as soon as possible,” King Mohammad said in a statement. The statement followed an announcement that Israel and Morocco had agreed to “full diplomatic relations a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!” In a separate but likely closely-tied announcement, the US said it would recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a former Spanish North African territory that has been the focus of a long-running dispute that has confounded international negotiators for decades.

Israel and Morocco established low-level diplomatic relations during the 1990s following a thawing of ties between Israel and the Palestinians. Those contacts, however, were suspended in 2002 in response to the Second Intifada. Since then, however, the relationship has continued informally, with tens of thousands of Israelis traveling to Morocco every year.

Explaining the decision to normalize, King Mohammad cited among other reasons the long-standing presence of Jews in Morocco. An estimated 50,000 Israelis — many of whom are descendants of Moroccan Jews who left in the 1950s — travel to Morocco each year on trips, learning about the Jewish community and retracing family histories.

“Morocco has played a historic role in bringing the peoples of the region together and supporting security and stability in the Middle East… [there are] special ties that bind the Jewish community of Moroccan origin, including those in Israel, to the person of His Majesty the King,” the report  said.

King Mohammad said his country will aim to “resume official bilateral ties and diplomatic relations [with Israel] as soon as possible,” and that Morocco will soon facilitate direct flights to transport Jews and Israelis to and from Morocco.

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

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A SURPRISE FOR YOU!

BLOG 489

October 12,  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.

A SURPRISE FOR YOU!   

Hey, I want to deviate from the usual path because I have something new that I think will be important for you. My latest book has just been released by Harper/Collins and I believe it will fascinate you!

Released immediately, I MARCHED WITH PATTON is the World War II story of a dear friend, Frank Sisson. I had known Frank for decades and never heard him mention of being in World War II. However, a couple of years ago, I noticed a plaque on the wall commemorating participation in the Battle of the Bulge. When I asked him about his involvement, he mumbled, “I don’t talk about it.”

As I pried the story out of him, his remembrances took me inside the war in a way that I had never known. I knew the public needed to read this account. In addition to the struggles of combat, Frank helped liberate the Dachau Concentration Camp and following the war became a Military Policeman in Berlin. His encounters with the Russians remains a story unto itself.

We developed this book to help contemporary Americans understand the values and ideals of the 75-80 million souls that perished because of this war. As I wrote these pages, I found myself again and again moved by the valor of the American soldier. You will be moved.

Perhaps, you read my 82 DAYS ON OKINAMWA that was released last March. The pandemic had just started and that blunted the release. However, the book is the first-person memories of Col. Art Shaw, also a dear friend who has since passed away.  His memories recount an era now passed, but important to recover.

Both of these books are available through Barnes & Noble or Amazon. They will more than suffice for those nights when there’s nothing much on television. They will warm your heart and challenge your soul.

Check it out!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

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ARCHEOLOGICAL JACKPOT!

BLOG 484
August 31, 2020

archaeology

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.

ARCHEOLOGICAL JACKPOT!

Parodically, I take a break from the “hot and heavy” political news of the Middle East to catch up with what archeologist are turning up. Possibly, nowhere in the world have the digs turned up such amazing finds and treasurers. These experts about the past are chancing how we read history. Here’s the latest.

A rare hoard of 425 gold coins from the Abbasid Caliphate, dating around 1,100 years ago, was uncovered by teenage volunteers at an archaeological excavation in the center of the country, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Monday. The trove was discovered by a group of young people carrying out volunteer work ahead of their mandatory army service.

“It was amazing.” said teen Oz Cohen. “I dug in the ground and when I excavated the soil, saw what looked like very thin leaves. When I looked again, I saw these were gold coins. It was really exciting to find such a special and ancient treasure.” Excavation directors Liat Nadav-Ziv and Dr. Elie Haddad said that it was assumed that whoever buried the coins would have expected they would be able to retrieve the hoard, and that the find could point to international trade carried out by the area’s residents.

“Finding gold coins, certainly in such a considerable quantity, is extremely rare. We almost never find them in archaeological excavations, given that gold has always been extremely valuable, melted down and reused from generation to generation,” the directors. “The coins, made of pure gold that does not oxidize in air, were found in excellent condition, as if buried the day before. Their finding may indicate that international trade took place between the area’s residents and remote areas,” the statement read.

Dr. Robert Kool, a coin expert at the IAA, said that the total weight of the hoard — around 845 grams of pure gold — would have been a significant amount of money at the end of the 9th century. “For example, with such a sum, a person could buy a luxurious house in one of the best neighborhoods in Fustat, the enormous wealthy capital of Egypt in those days,” Kool said that at the time, the region was part of the Abbasid Caliphate, which stretched from Persia to North Africa, with a central seat of government in Baghdad.

“The hoard consists of full gold dinars, but also — what is unusual — contains about 270 small gold cuttings, pieces of gold dinars cut to serve as small change,” Kool said.

He added that one of those cuttings was exceptionally rare and never before found in excavations in Israel — a fragment of a gold solidus of the Byzantine emperor Theophilos (829 – 842 CE), minted in the empire’s capital of Constantinople.

YOU MIGHT ENJOY MY NEWEST BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
Harper-Collins Publishers
JUST OUT – IT’S A THRILLER!
Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon.

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Filed under archaeology, History, Israel, The Middle East

ISRAELIS COUNT DOWN

BLOG 452
November 25, 2019

countdown 1

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.

ISRAELIS COUNT DOWN

Time is running out.

The current quagmire in Israel is rumbling toward a third election.

The two main sticking points in efforts to reach a unity government have been the right-wing bloc, which Netanyahu has refused to part with, and Blue and White’s refusal to serve under a prime minister facing criminal charges. This week an unexpected indictment against Netanyahu exploded and the pieces are still coming down. For well over a year, I have been writing about this possibility and predicting such was coming.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit leveled and filed three charges of corruption against Netanyahu, putting him under criminal indictment.

Will the Israel public vote for a Prime Minister under criminal indictment? That just maybe the jackpot question. Quite possibly the impasse between Netanyahu and Gantz may have pushed patience too far and the charges were filled to dynamite the log jam. We will see.

Officials in Yisrael Beytenu, whose party is the deciding factor on whether Netanyahu or Gantz will be able to form a government without the other, told The Times of Israel that leader Avigdor Liberman would announce his decision on whether to support either Gantz or Netanyahu, or neither, this week. In his statement Gantz, who had 24 hours left until his deadline to form a governing coalition, said he would “continue to make every effort and turn every stone to try to reach understandings and form a government even in the remaining time, in order to prevent costly and unnecessary elections that are contrary to the will of the citizens of Israel.”

And then President Donald Trump dropped the bombshell! In an effort to support and shore up Netanyahu, he proclaimed West Bank settlements by Israel are not illegal. Needless to say this arbitrary action was rejected on many fronts. The principal Democratic presidential candidates denounced the decision. The European Union rejected the idea and said such a move would be an obstacle to peace. Russia and Turkey both weighted in and rejected the USA position.

Will Trump’s move mean anything? Not if the Israeli public rejects the idea of electing a Prime Minister under criminal indictment. Stay tuned. There’s more to come!

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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TWO BIG STORIES!

BLOG 449
October 28, 2019

trumpy

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.

TWO BIG STORIES!

STORY ONE:

If you’re not following what’s happened to the Kurds since President Trump arbitrarily pulled American troops and influence out of Syria, you should be. The Turks have been killing the Kurds in the same manner that ISIS did earlier. The slaughter of a once American Ally while the USA stands on the sidelines and watches will go down in history as not only one of the greatest blunders of recent years, but a betrayer of people who once thought we were their friends. Who would want to be an Ally of America when such arbitrary actions mean that our relationships mean nothing?

(Refer to last week’s blog for a listing of the objectives of Russia.) From the point of view of the Middle East, Trump’s actions have handed Putin his first three major objectives on a silver platter. Putin is now the king maker and controls Syria. America is out.

Who are the Kurds? Between 25 and 35 million Kurds inhabit a mountainous region straddling the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. They make up the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, but they have never obtained a permanent nation state. Currently, they are struggling to exist.

STORY TWO:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening announced he had failed to muster a coalition after almost four weeks of effort, and therefore returned the mandate to form a government to President Reuven Rivlin. Netanyahu’s 28-day deadline for building a government was due to expire on Wednesday.

Rivlin is now expected, probably on Tuesday morning, to charge Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz with the task of mustering a coalition that can win a Knesset majority. Blue and White said it was determined to build the “liberal unity government, led by Benny Gantz, that the people of Israel voted for.”

Gantz now has 28 days to try and do what Netanyahu could not accomplish. If he fails, any MK will have 21 days to obtain the support of a Knesset majority to form a government. If no one succeeds, elections will be initiated automatically — a third round inside a year after April’s and September’s inconclusive votes.

Like a predictable politician, Netanyahu blamed Gantz for his failure. The truth is that the criminal charges hanging over Netanyahu’s head have sunk his attempts to unite with other political groups needed to form the government.

Keep your eyes open for Story Three — yet to come.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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YOU THOUGHT AMERICA HAD POLITICAL PROBLEMS Part 2

BLOG 446
September 30, 2019

israel

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.

YOU THOUGHT AMERICA HAD POLITICAL PROBLEMS
Part 2

Because the impending Trump Impeachment Inquiry grabbed the headlines, the story in Israel hasn’t even been reported in the national media. Even though it hasn’t been a headline grabber, the situation remains fascinating … and highly muddled.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday proposed a unity government in which power would be equally divided. Likud’s Netanyahu and Blue and White chief Benny Gantz would each serve two years as prime minister. Netanyahu would take an open-ended leave of absence if and when he is indicted in three criminal probes. Under the arrangement Gantz, as “interim prime minister,” would enjoy all prime ministerial authority.

Why not? The two candidates virtually tied in the election. Gantz won 33 seats and Netanyahu’s Likud’s took 32 seats. Neither side had a clear path to a majority coalition. One of the problems in the election was Netanyahu’s forming a government including right-wing and Orthodox religious parties. The public clearly wants the religious groups out of the government. However, Netanyahu knows he can’t function without their support.

Negotiating teams for Likud and Blue and White groups met Friday morning for ongoing talks over a potential unity government between the two parties, but made little headway, with each side appearing chiefly concerned with avoiding any blame for a collapse of negotiations.

For its part, Blue and White said in a statement that it was concerned with “principles and values” as “the foundation of any negotiation” while Likud was chiefly concerned with Netanyahu remaining prime minister. Observers said it was clear Likud’s stance was aimed at dragging the State of Israel into a third round of elections, and that lined up with the interests of the prime minister. Despite the tense mood, the sides agreed to meet again on Sunday morning.

President Rivling stressed Wednesday that Israelis do not want a third round of elections, saying “the public will pay the price” of a failure by Netanyahu and Gantz to find common ground. However, observers currently believe Netanyahu may be stalling, ready to force another election. Why? Only by being able to control the Knesset does Netanyahu have any chance of avoiding facing serious legal charges. He’s not going to throw in the towel easily.

The fact that Netanyahu can’t form a government or win the election is viewed within Israel as somewhat of a rejection of President Trump. Netanyahu had vigorously campaigned with pictures of himself standing with Trump but this didn’t work to win the election.

What’s next? Who knows! Sure beats most of what’s on television.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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Filed under History, Israel, The Middle East, Trump

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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HEY! SOMETHING NEW ON THE HORIZON

BLOG 394 May 7, 2018

Yes, yes, I know this is a weekly take on the Middle East. Yes, I know your interest is in what is happening in the struggle in Syria, the Palestinians in Gaza, and with the Iranian nuclear peace agreement. Yes, I realize these facts.

However….

I’ve got a new website I want you take a look at because I think you’ll find it important. Our just created The Early Faith For Today website explores the first five centuries of the Christian era and the first three centuries in detail. Most people know very little about this period that sets the stage for all that unfolded. Here’s an opportunity for you to explored the ancient backdrop to today’s Middle East.

Our purpose and mission in this new website is to restore the simplicity, mystery, and awe of the ancient faith. Contemporary viewers will find encouragement and clarity for their daily journeys. The objectives of this website are practical, relevant, and offer theologically sound inspiration for walking on the path coming to us from the beginning. Our goal is to help contemporary times recover the original dynamic and direction of the first Christians. A small band of Apostles with a dead leader who came back to life created a movement that in 300 years over took the Roman Empire. That’s worth knowing about!

Strangely enough, the 21st century is surprisingly like the first century. Both were secular oriented political systems run by people seeking power. Citizens were often confused and struggled to live with limited financial means. Religious plurality existed everywhere. Roman had statues to gods on every corner of the city. While Americans general  affirm only one God (who they hope is out there somewhere), we actually worship money, status, power, and influence. Just gods of a different shape! The general public experienced wide-spread confusion about what to believe. Today, we have 40,000 expressions of the Christian faith. We’re not as different as you might like to have thought.

Next week we’ll return to our regular format, but I thought you might to tune us in. We’re still making adjustments to the website and will be for a couple of months, but I think you will find these old – new insights helpful.

Against this backdrop, the goal of EARLY FAITH FOR TODAY is to bring clarification, insight, and inspiration.  Along the way, you’ll pick up insight into divine interventions. Join us at earlyfaithfortoday.com

THE EARLY FAITH FOR TODAY
Surveying the first 3 centuries, we are examining the ancient Christian faith.
The focus is practical, relevant, and inspirational. TUNE IN

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Filed under Christians, Faith, History, middle east

AN ALTERNATIVE TO HALLOWEEN

BLOG 370 November 6, 2017

I confess. Last weekend we were in California, taking our great-grandchildren (and children) Trick or Treating. For years, I took the three grandchildren up and down the streets of Modesto, knocking on doors and threatening the worse if they didn’t produce candy. Actually, the experience remains one of the highlights of my year.

But here’s an unexpected surprise for you. We are taking a light-hearted retreat from the usual heavy Middle-Eastern news.  This year in Israel Halloween is out; Commemorating the Battle of Beersheba is in. Bet you’ve never heard of this event that occurred in 1917 on October 31.

The Battle of Beersheba was the first major victory for Britain in World War I and ultimately laid the groundwork for what in time would become the Balfour Declaration that renewed the hope of the Jewish people to become a nation after 2,000 years in exile.

Before the battle, the British had been defeated four times by the Turkish army. Their failure in the Dardanelles led to the resignation of Winston Churchill as the First Lord of the Admiralty. Churchill’s push for a naval invasion in Gallipoli led to 400,000 casualties on both sides and an ignominious Allied defeat. At the battle of Kut in Iraq, the British were again defeated and surrendered to the Turks. They were again badly beaten twice  fighting for Gaza.

The defeats led to a new command under General Edmund Allenby, a no-nonsense giant of a man called “The Bull.” Another  swashbuckling military office appeared to ride his horse close to the Turks, was fired upon, fell forward, dropped a shoulder back covered with blood, and rode off appearing to be hit. All part of plan to deceive the Turks, making them think an attack on Beersheba was only a ploy. In reality, the small city was the real objective. The Australian 4th and the 12th Light Horse Brigades mounted a frontal charge against the Turk’s double-lined defensive trench light of defense and rushed forward.

The horses charged over the trenches and the soldiers fought the Turks in hand-to-hand combats, meeting bullets with bayonets. The enormous courage of the Allied soldiers  defeated the Turks, took Beersheba, led to the liberation of Palestine, and eventually the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Although happening a hundred years ago, the battle remains an important event for what was to become Israel.

Israelites might well dress in military customs and knock on doors, saying, “Candy or the Battle of Beersheba on your doorstep!”

The great cavalry advance was the last horse and rider charge in military history.

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Filed under halloween, History, Israel, middle east