Category Archives: Israel

BITS AND PIECES IN ISRAEL

BLOG 526

July 18, 2021

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.

BITS AND PIECES IN ISRAEL

Here’s some of what is floating around the Middle East today. Israel continues to press the US to not join the Iranian deal. Even though former Prime Minister Netanyahu made a veiled threats against the Biden Administration over returning to the nuclear arms pact, Chief of  Military Staff Avi Koavi  pledged total cooperation and coordination with America.  In turn, President  Biden told Israeli President Reuven  Rivlin “Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch.”

Readers might draw the conclusion that Israel continues to fight the Khomeini Revolutionary regimen while trying not to provoke the people and their pride. At the same time, Israel continues to frustrate nuclear development within Iran.

Here’s a new twist in the Israel-Washington story.  The New York Times reported that Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Donald Trump to launch a military strike against Iran after it was clear that the former US president had lost the 2020 election. General Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, battled to prevent Trump from ordering a strike against Iran, while the President was circled by hawks, including Netanyahu, pressuring him to execute such a strike.

“If you do this, you’re gonna have a **** war,” Milley reportedly warned Trump at one point.

Other foreign policy advisers, including then-Vice President Mike Pence, also reportedly pushed for military action against Iran. When Milley asked why they were so intent on attacking the Iranians, at a meeting where Trump was not present, Pence replied: “Because they are evil.”

The newspaper story reported Milley believed that Trump did not want a war, but said the outgoing president kept pushing for a missile strike in response to Iranian provocations against US interests in the region. The chairman ultimately succeeded in preventing such a strike in the tail-end of Trump’s term.

The Joint Chiefs head said Trump was preaching Hitler’s ‘gospel’ before the Capitol riot. “In the months after the election, with Trump seemingly willing to do anything to stay in power, the subject of Iran was repeatedly raised in White House meetings with the President, and Milley repeatedly argued against a strike,” the New Yorker piece reported. Milley “was worried that Trump might set in motion a full-scale conflict that was not justified.”

It’s always a challenge to discover what’s going on behind closed doors. Then again, sometimes you really don’t want to know!

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Iran, Israel, The Middle East, Trump

UPDATE ON JORDAN  

BLOG 525

July 11, 2021

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.

UPDATE ON JORDAN  

I first visited Jordan in 1968. The country was struggling and many conditions were the same as they had been in 1200 A.D., but the people were warm and friendly. Little did I know that two of my sons would someday teach at the University of Aman and I would have a Jordanian daughter-in-law. Consequently, I have had a concern and interest in the Hashemite Kingdom during all of these following decades. During this period, Yashar Arafat attempted to move the Palestinians into Jordan while he had visions of taking over the country. It took the Jordanian Army to finally drive the Palestinians out. Native Jordanians have remained a proud people.  However, lately there have been a number of struggles.

This past week both Israel and the United States made major gestures to Jordan and its ruler King Abdullah II, a sign that they share serious concerns over the kingdom’s stability. On Tuesday, the US administration announced that  King Abdullah will travel to the US later this month and will be the first Middle East leader to visit the Biden White House.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stressed Jordan’s role as “a key security partner and ally of the United States,” and said the visit would “showcase Jordan’s leadership role in promoting peace and stability in the region.”

A number of difficult issues have been confronting Jordan. Water shortage, tensions in the royal family as well as economic woes have pushed a nervous America and Israel to show support for king, fearing fall of a key ally could have disastrous effects on the entire region . In April, rare Palace intrigue spilled into the open, as King Abdullah’s half-brother Prince Hamzah was placed under house arrest. The dramatic and very public episode shone a spotlight on fissures that have the potential to cause the entire edifice of the Hashemite regime to crumble, with delirious effects for Israel and its security.

Frustration in Jordan has simmered for years against the background of economic troubles, political repression and doubts about Abdullah’s legitimacy. In the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated many of the public’s grievances, albeit mostly within the confines of the monarchy’s tight control of free expression.

Jordan’s strict lockdown was initially effective in slowing the spread of the virus, but it wreaked havoc on the economy. Unemployment reached nearly 25% by the end of 2020, as the economy suffered its worst contraction in decades.

This certainly is a good time for America to help.

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Israel, Palestinians

SAME SONG: SECOND VERSE 

BLOG 524

July 4, 2021

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.

SAME SONG: SECOND VERSE    

July 4th is back in all its glory. Fireworks and all!  While we are celebrating in America, the Middle East is still settling into the new situation with the change of government and Naftali Bennett replacing Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister. However, the Israeli position on self-defense remains the same. You’ve heard this song before.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday vowed Israel will never be slack in striking its enemies in self-defense. “The State of Israel will always defend itself against any external threat and will not hold itself back from ensuring our security,” Bennett’s remarks came in  a ceremony in Jerusalem marking the anniversary of the death of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism.

Bennett added: “We will act firmly, creatively and consistently against threats both near and far.”  He did not refer to any specific threat but his remarks came as the United States holds talks on rejoining the international accord restricting Iran’s nuclear program, a move Israel supports.

The new Prime Minister last week singled out Iran when vowing not to allow any “existential threat” against Israel. He also hinted at Israeli involvement in a recent attack at an Iranian nuclear site. The alleged drone assault on an Iranian centrifuge production facility landed outside Tehran which reportedly damaged the site.

In his speech Wednesday, Bennett also commented on the formation of his power-sharing government with Lapid earlier this month,  when he replaced Netanyahu as prime minister.

“This government was not obvious. It is a beautiful mosaic government,” he said, referring to the broad range of parties in the coalition. “This is a government that I confess, was formed out of political constraints, but every day that passes teaches me that it was a worthy government from the start, A government with disagreements, deliberations, a government that knows how to disagree.”

Bennett said the government was seeking to handle internal divides “quietly, calmly, respectfully and attentively. We not only talk, we also listen to the opposing side.”

Get the picture? Israel may not celebrate July 4th, but they are still capable of a real fireworks show!

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under Elections, Israel, The Middle East

MORE CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

BLOG 523

June 28, 2021

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.

MORE CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

Last week I described the possibilities of violent change in the Palestinian controlled areas with a revolt against the P.A. (Palestinian Authority) leader Abbas. Of course, charges of abuse  constantly go back and forth. People in the West often struggle to make sense out of what is happening. However, here’s an immediate event that will help you have a more defined sense of why the struggles continue and no progress is made.

After Abbas canceled planned Palestinian elections in April, Banat, himself a legislative candidate on an independent list, gave an interview harshly critical of the PA president to a Hamas-linked television channel. A few days later, unidentified gunmen fired at his home in Dura, near Hebron. Banat fled to a hideout in an Israeli-controlled part of Hebron. The West Bank city has been divided since the 1997 Hebron Protocol, which split the city into Palestinian and Israel-administered areas.

On Thursday morning, members of the PA security services raided the house where he was staying. According to his family, the officers stripped Banat, sprayed pepper gas in his eyes, before “viciously beating him” and dragging him away. Two hours later, his family learned that Banat was dead.

The PA has said it will conduct a full investigation with representatives from the family and human rights groups.

His death sparked widespread outrage among Palestinians, causing protests to break out in Ramallah on Thursday. Hundreds of demonstrators marched through the streets, calling for the end of Abbas’s 16-year rule. They were met by police wielding batons and firing tear gas canisters. On Friday, during the funeral procession for Banat in Hebron, protesters chanted “get out, get out, Abbas. This is the vote of all the people.” Invoking one of the best-known slogans of the 2011 Arab revolutions, demonstrators called out during the funeral: “The people want to topple the regime!”

“Out, out, out, get the dogs of the PA out,” others shouted.

A crowd of Palestinians appearing to number in the dozens also gathered following Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to chant anti-Abbas and pro-Hamas slogans. The site is the third holiest in Islam and it lies on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

Get the picture? Nothing new here. It’s an old story. However, the scene will help you understand why turmoil appears to never end.

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under Israel, Palestinians, The Middle East

CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

BLOG 522

June 21, 2021

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.

CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

Here’s a couple of indicators that real change is occurring in the Middle-East. A new poll released Tuesday finds a dramatic surge in Palestinian support for Hamas following last month’s Gaza conflict, with around three-quarters of the Palestinian population viewing the Islamist terrorists as victors in a battle against Israel to defend Jerusalem and its holy sites.The poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research also found plummeting support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who was sidelined by the fighting but is seen internationally as a partner for reviving the long-defunct peace process. The poll found that 53% of Palestinians believe Hamas is “most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people,” while only 14% prefer Abbas’ secular Fatah party.

Abbas has delayed elections for years and was supposedly set for an immediate election. These numbers do not spell success for him.

On the Israeli side, there is new hope. Israel’s 36th government is a coalition of the courageous. Each leader who has led his or her party into this strange and unwieldy government has taken a risk. Among the leaders of this coalition, none has been more self-sacrificing than Yair Lapid. Though Lapid was the senior politician within the anti-Netanyahu coalition and head of its largest party, he deferred to Benny Gantz, who seemed the more likely to defeat Netanyahu. And now he has deferred to Naftali Bennett, leader of one of the coalition’s smallest factions. In so doing, Lapid has embodied the meaning of leadership and love for Israel, restoring to our politics its lost nobility. 

Two Israels were on display at the Knesset swearing-in ceremony for the new government. There was the Israel of desecration, MKs (Members of Knesset) shouting, faces contorted with hate, trampling on the dignity of the state as they refused to allow the prime minister-designate to speak at his own inauguration. And there was the Israel of Naftali Bennet and Yair Lapid, speaking with passion and reason and self-control as they presented their coalition of healing.

After years of officially inspired campaigns of hatred and divisiveness, contrived to serve one man’s political needs, we have the most diverse government in the country’s history. After the worst violence between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews since 1948, we have the nation’s first Jewish-Arab coalition.  

If the new coalition achieves nothing more than liberating Israel from those who have tried to unravel the delicate balance between nationalism and democracy, decency and power – dayenu, it is sufficient. If the new coalition achieves nothing more than offering a counter-vision of an Israel that strives to respect and manage its essential differences and place the country above sectarian needs – dayenu.  

Can this coalition last? Given its bare majority and inner contradictions, the odds aren’t brilliant. And yet even if it doesn’t survive its term, it has already won.   

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaza, Israel, Palestinians, The Middle East

ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTING

BLOG 521

June 14, 2021

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.

ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTING

Netanyahu is out.

One of the factors in the recent war with Hamas was that after three failed elections with a fourth planned, Israel was perceived as weakened. Netanyahu’s  problem with legal charges of corruption was also a factor. Naftali Bennet with other parties saw the necessity for change … regardless!

Despite the bad blood between them, Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett reportedly plans to use his speech at Sunday’s swearing-in of the new government to praise outgoing premier Benjamin Netanyahu and thank him for his service to the country. While Netanyahu has spent the past several weeks disparaging Bennett for forming a “dangerous” government that will replace him as premier after 12 years, the prime minister-designate will not criticize the Likud leader and will adopt a conciliatory approach.

Bennett will also seek to reassure the public that the new, eight-party government will work for all sectors, including those that have not supported his decision to build a coalition with Yesh Atid  Chairman Yair Lapid and more left-leaning parties as well as Islamist Ra’am.

Meanwhile Lapid will serve as foreign minister for the initial period of the next government. He plans to travel to the US as soon as this month in order to iron out relations with the Biden administration. The White House has worked with Netanyahu and avoided public quarrels over the past several months, but will likely not be shedding a tear over the Likud leader’s replacement, given how radioactive Netanyahu has become in the Democratic Party.

The new government is expected to be equally opposed to the Biden administration’s plan to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal. However, all parties have spoken about keeping disagreements with the US behind closed doors and will represent an overwhelming majority at the cabinet table.  New sources also reported that Netanyahu’s family — his wife, Sara and sons Yair and Avner — will continue to have their own personal security guards for at least a year at the taxpayer’s expense.

Get ready for change. It’s going to be a new day in Israel!

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under Elections, Israel, The Middle East

IS HE IN OR OUT?

BLOG 520

June 7, 2021

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.

IS HE IN OR OUT?

There’s an old saying. “Two Jews; Three opinions.” Today in Israel there appears to be a hundred different opinions. It is not clear whether Benjamin Netanyahu is still the Prime Minister of Israel. The struggle is intense and not fully decided. Prime-minister-designate Naftali Bennetti appears to have forced a new government. (Only so it appears).

On Friday, counter-protesters also showed up to support the new coalition which will first be led by Bennett and then, from August 2023, by Lapid. Netanyahu’s Likud is also to meet Sunday. Netanyahu has urged all right-wingers in the “change coalition” to abandon it, and instead back him.

“We are of course fighting until the last moment,” Likud minister and close Netanyahu loyalist Tzachi Hanegbi said on Friday afternoon. “It’s not only about Netanyahu. We are a political camp with vast public support.  If the government s sworn in, we’ll of course act, in opposition, according to all the well-known rules. We’ll be] a fighting opposition. But until then, if there is a chance to prevent the establishment of a government based on votes that were stolen from the right, we of course will act to try to prevent it.”

Knesset speaker, Levin can legally delay a vote on the new government for a week or more, giving Netanyahu’s Likud party more time to try to peel away rebels from the right-wing factions of the unity coalition.  

Hundreds took part in the rallies, a day after Lapid officially declared that he can form a government, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing religious bloc are seeking to pressure lawmakers from Yamina and the fellow right-wing New Hope party to oppose. If formed, the government would end the premier’s run of 12 consecutive years in office and relegate his Likud party and allied factions to the opposition.

The demonstrations against the so-called “change government” have been particularly intense in recent days, taking place outside the homes of prospective ministers, including Bennett, the Yamina lawmakers and Meretz’s Tamar Zandberg. The hecklers have included pro-Netanyahu activists, right-wing families of terror victims and young members of the national-religious camp.

On Thursday morning the Shin Bet security service said its unit that protects the top officials of the state, Unit 730, had placed a security detail around Bennett, the coalition-to-be’s first prime minister.

All this make sense to you? Probably not unless you are an Israeli and then you’d probably be confused. The recent war with Hamas demonstrated that after three elections with a fourth coming ups, the current government is vulnerable.  This political weakness is a major reason why there is a current push to remove Netanyahu. Will the Bennett coalition succeed?

Stay tuned.

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under Elections, Israel, Jews, The Middle East

REMEMBERING THOSE WHO PARISHED

BLOG 519

May 31, 2021

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.

REMEMBERING THOSE WHO PARISHED

On this Memorial Day weekend, Americans remember those dear ones who have passed on. The same is true in the Middle East, but for their own particular reasons. The Palestinians lost at the least 200 people while Israel death were small. The question for diplomats is where do we go from here.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that in the wake of the recent conflict in Gaza and unrest in Jerusalem, the United States plans to focus on addressing “the underlying causes” that could spark yet another round of violence, Tuesday evening. Blinken indicated that the Biden administration will be actively involved in the Israeli Palestinian conflict, echoing comments he made earlier in the day during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Blinken met with top Israeli officials including Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz  before heading to Ramallah for high-level meetings with Palestinian Authority leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Blinken also stressed the “critical role” played by Egypt in brokering the Gaza ceasefire, and called Jordan “a voice for peace and stability in the region.”

In contrast, Hamas had its own objectives. The terrorist organization was able to hijack protests in Jerusalem and use the last week of Ramadan for their own purposes.  Moreover, Hamas firing rockets into the city on “Jerusalem Day” made them appear to be a credible  resistance force. This action aimed at making PA President Mahoud  Abbas look incompetent.  In fact, Abbas completely failed to  cash in on the tensions that had developed in East Jersualsm over the housing question. Hamas has now placed itself on center stage. To create a ceasefire, Egypt had to talk with Hamas, not the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas stopped short of urging a Palestinian revolt against Abbas for fear of being directly responsible for a Palestinian civil war. Moreover, they would not have done well with the PA soldiers on one front and the Israeli on the other.

It now appears America’s goal is to “give the Palestinian people, including those in Gaza, a renewed sense of confidence, of optimism, of real opportunity,” Blinken said. “If we are able to do that together, then Hamas’s foothold in Gaza will slip. We know that, and I think Hamas knows that.”

We don’t need another war in the Middle East. Let’s hope this Memorial Day will be a reminder of the grief that always comes with such a conflict.

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaza, Israel, Palestinians, The Middle East

THE DAY AFTER

BLOG 518

May 24, 2021

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.

THE DAY AFTER

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has spilled over into America. A Jewish man was badly beaten by a pro-Palestinian mob in New York City on Thursday. Joseph Borgen thought he was “going to die” during the attack. He was assaulted while wearing a kippa (prayer cap) on his way to a pro-Israel rally. “I would never think I’d ever have to worry about my religion or ethnicity being a problem in NYC.” Jewish people in America are facing such an event with increasing personal concern.

In the Middle-East, Egyptian mediators held talks Saturday to firm up an Israel-Hamas ceasefire. Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip have begun to assess the damage from 11 days of intense fighting. Saturday marked the first full day of a truce that ended the fourth Israel-Hamas war in just over a decade. In the fighting, Israel unleashed hundreds of airstrikes against terrorist targets in Gaza. Hamas fired more than 4,300 rockets toward Israel. More than 250  Palestinians were killed,. Israel asserts some 200 were terror operatives.

Gaza City’s busiest commercial area, Omar al-Mukhtar Street, was covered in debris, smashed cars, and twisted metal after a 13-floor building in its center was flattened in an Israeli airstrike. Merchandise was covered in soot and strewn inside smashed stores and on the pavement. Municipal workers removed broken glass and twisted metal from streets and sidewalks.

Both Israel and Hamas claimed victory. While there was a widespread expectation that the ceasefire might stick, another round of fighting at some point seems inevitable. Underlying issues remain unresolved, including the Israeli-Egyptian border blockade. In its 14th year, the barricade is choking Gaza’s more than 2 million residents because the Hamas terrorist organization won’t disarm. Israel says the blockade is necessary to limit access to weapons by Hamas. Israel is sworn to its destruction.    

The war further sidelined Hamas’s main political rival, the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority. The P.A. oversees autonomous areas of the West Bank. Hamas has increasingly positioned itself to appear to be a defender of Jerusalem in  order to sway Palestinian public opinion.  On Friday, hours after the ceasefire took effect, thousands of Palestinians on the Temple Mount chanted against PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his government. “Dogs of the Palestinian Authority, out, out,” they shouted, and “The people want the president to leave.” It was an unprecedented display of anger against Abbas.

The conflict also brought to the surface deep frustration among Arbs, whether in the West Bank, Gaza or within Israel, over the status quowith the Israeli-Palestinian peace process all but abandoned for years.

What’s ahead? No one can say or whether the ceasefire will hold. The number of Palestinians killed means nothing to Hamas as they have previously used their own people as human shields. They believe martyrs help their cause. Whatever they lost to Israel, they have gained in further diminishing Fatah and President Abbas. A strange logic prevails in their terrorist attacks. Loss of human lives doesn’t appear to matter.  However, if they fire more rockets, Israel will continue to eradicate their positions.

Sound like a hot summer ahead? Undoubtedly!

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaza, Israel, Jews, The Middle East

THE PEFECT STORM IN ISRAEL

BLOG 517

May 17, 2021

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.

THE PEFECT STORM IN ISRAEL

Last week’s blog ended with “something like this weekend’s confrontation always has the potential to erupt into a major nation-wide war. Let’s hope not.” Unfortunately, I was right on target. Israel and Hamas as well as the Palestinians now stand on the edge of a full-scale war. You may be asking yourself how this could have exploded so quickly. Actually, it has been simmering for a long time. Here are some of the factors that merged at  the right moment for a horrendous confrontation.

  1. RAMADAN

The Muslim holy month  (April to May) has always been a time of increased tension and violence against the Jews. While the month of Ramadan is supposedly to be a time of peace, Muslim extremists have turned it into a period of attack. Israelis know they must be extra protective during this time. The fact that the attack began on the Temple Mount with youth coming out of the Al-Aksa Mosque is consistent with Ramadan’s period of increased tension.

  • POLITICAL STRUGGLES IN ISRAELI POLITICS

As unbelievable as it appears, Israel is preparing for a fourth election that should have been settled years ago. The legal problems of Prime Minister Netanyahu fueled political indecision about his office as well as confronting him with the possibility of going to jail. Those problems add up to a sense that at this moment Israel is vulnerable. While thoughtful inquirers know Israel can defeat an Arab attack, the Palestinians don’t think that way. This seemed to them to be a good moment to attack.

  • The Trump factor

During the four-years of the Trump administration, the USA appeared to be unequivocally on the side of Israel with no concern for the Palestinian issues. While this made for a good show in Republican politics, it left the Palestinians with the conclusion they had no support in Washington for their own legitimate claims and needs. When the Palestinian cause appeared hopeless, they turned to violence.

  • Palestinian Elections

With elections scheduled in the West Bank on May 22 and July 31, what better way to garner votes than to cross the line and attack Israel. The assaults with rockets and bottles came at the right moment to declare solidarity with the Arab cause. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas can now blame Israel if the election is cancelled in an attempt to avoid blame for his not holding elections for over a decade.

  • Iran

Iran always enjoys seeing Israel bleed. As the world’s number one terrorism exporter, they have been the source of providing those countless rockets fired on Israel over the years and particularly at this moment. They are testing the Iron Dome’s ability  to defeat these attacks. So far, Israel is winning that struggle.

TOMORROW?

What does the future hold? A communique came this week from Yitzhak Sokoloff in Israel whose daughter serves in the Army and has been in bomb shelters this past week. He writes,

I don’t know where things are headed and I’m not sure that anyone does. As I write tonight from my part-time home in Yerucham, the Red Alert application keeps buzzing every few seconds with warnings for the Israeli towns and cities about to receive a visit from a Hamas rocket, including one aimed at my daughter’s base. (She’s OK).

How long can this last? The problem started with Isaac and Ishmael four-thousand years ago. If that’s any indication, the conflict looks endless. Palestinians see a holy purpose in dying for the Temple Mount and their claim to the land. If Jordan or Egypt get into the fray, there is no end to how far this collision could go.

Stay tuned.

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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Filed under Iran, Israel, Palestinians, The Middle East, Trump, War