Category Archives: Jews

TRAGEDY IN ISRAEL

BLOG 515

May 3, 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.

TRAGEDY IN ISRAEL

This past week the media has been full of stories of the disaster in Israel that also took American lives. Possibly you had never heard about Lag B’Omer. The little known Jewish festival reaches way back, particularly with Orthodox Judaism.  Some believe it commemorates the day that manna first fell on the Jews on the way to Mt. Sinai. Others believe it recalls the date of the death of a famous rabbi. Let’s investigate further.

Author Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Israel’s first Nobel Prize laureate wrote, “you haven’t seen the joy of Lag B’Omer on the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, you haven’t seen joy at all.” That description reflects an aspect of the annual pilgrimage to Mount Meron in northern Israel that was underlined by the deaths on Friday of at least 45 revelers in a stampede: It is a place whose symbolism reflects a mix of grief and euphoria.

The tragedy struck during what for many observant Jews is among the happiest days of the year: the cessation of a period of mourning between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot during when many observant Jews abstain from weddings and haircuts. And it occurred exactly 110 years after another disaster at the site that killed at least 10 pilgrims in 1911.

The Talmud ties Lag B’Omer to a plague that killed thousands of students of Rabbi Akiva, among the greatest early rabbinic figures whose legend has it was put to death by the Romans for defying their restrictions on teaching Torah. According to Jewish tradition, the plague ceased on Lag b’Omer, making that date a time of celebration.

Lag B’Omer is also believed to be the date of death of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a prominent disciple of Rabbi Akiva and a major figure in Jewish mysticism, or Kabbalah, whose gravesite on Mount Meron is the locus of festivities. Bar Yochai’s grave became a site for celebration because tradition has it that he asked his disciples to rejoice instead of mourn when they commemorate his death.

In Israel, the celebration has become a colorful event, where tens of thousands of mostly Hasidic Jews dance into the night to a soundtrack as diverse as the revelers.

The pilgrimage to Mount Meron, located just outside the northern city of Safed, began in the 11th century at the gravesite of earlier sages. A plethora of unusual customs have emerged around the Lag B’Omer pilgrimage. At one event, a white sheet is stretched on a stage and smeared with olive oil for long minutes in a ceremony that some believe corresponds to a mystical notion that wisdom can be absorbed through objects. Some young men also shoot bow and arrow while reciting their choice verses from the Bible as a way of fighting evil urges. Amid the euphoric dancing and eccentric activities, revelers often display kindness and express brotherly love. It is not uncommon for revelers to hug. Entire dance parties routinely grind to a halt whenever one of the dancers loses their yarmulke so that the head covering can be retrieved from the ground.

The event’s pinnacle is the lighting of the traditional Lag B’Omer fire as the crowd recites, mantra-like, “bizchut hatanah Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai” — Hebrew for “in the merit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai of the Tannaim,” a reference to the generation of rabbis who flourished in the first two centuries of the Common Era.   At that  exact moment the Mount Meron pilgrimage tragedy happened in 1911. As thousands climbed a stone staircase to see the fire, the structure collapsed, killing at least 10 people    

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 Jews, The Middle East

CHANGE BLOWING IN THE WIND

BLOG 509

March 22, 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 BLOWING IN THE WIND

If you follow Israeli politics, the latest polls show Netanyahu ahead in the race for Prime Minister. That’s the update, but the big story is an important shift has occurred in Israeli society.

Israel’s High Court of Justice issued a groundbreaking ruling on Monday that will mean formal recognition by the state to non-Orthodox Jewish communities in the country. The ruling will likely spark a dramatic uptick in the country’s religious culture wars and, quite possibly, a move in the Knesset to clip the wings of the court.

Clarification is needed for what the decision doesn’t do: it does not require the Haredi-controlled state rabbinate to recognize Reform and Conservative conversions. Only the Interior Ministry must do so. And even there, the decision only slightly expands the scope of the Interior Ministry’s existing recognition for those conversions. After all, the Interior Ministry has for two decades formally accepted Reform and Conservative conversions conducted overseas as conferring the right to citizenship under the Law of Return.

Monday’s ruling is, in a sense, very narrow. It instructs the Interior Ministry (but not the rabbinate) to recognize as Jewish for the purposes of immigration (but for no other purposes, such as marriage or burial) only those few Reform and Conservative conversions conducted each year inside Israel. That’s the change. As of Monday, a non-Jewish non-Israeli living in Israel who converts to Judaism in the Conservative or Reform religious streams and then asks to become a citizen based on the Law of Return will have their conversion recognized by non-religious state bodies as conferring on them that right.

The Jewish state has long refused to recognize the institutions of the Reform and Conservative movements in the country, a shunning rooted in the political power of the ultra-Orthodox and religious-Zionist political parties. This all began when Orthodox religious parties got David Ben-Gurion’s ear just as Israel was becoming a state in 1948.

Very little is likely to change in the life of Reform and Conservative converts because of Monday’s ruling. But Israel itself will change.If the ruling stands, it will mark a watershed in state recognition for Jewish religious options long rejected by Orthodox political parties and the state rabbinic apparatus.

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)

Please watch and subscribe to my new YouTube channel MIRACLES NEVER CEASE, where I post interviews with people sharing their experiences with divine encounters!

Let the miracles begin!

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Filed under Elections, Gaza, Jews, The Middle East

THE DAY THE EARTH SHOOK

BLOG  502

January 15, 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 THE EARTH SHOOK

You simply can’t get away from the story. The insurrection in the American capitol shot around the world. Countries that hate the U.S. applauded. Allies shuddered. Trump was impeached.  Those headlines were as big in the Middle East as they were in this country. There’s no way to avoid the subject.

I read The Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel on a daily basis along with Moment and a number of other periodicals. Here’s an example of what they reported. “Ten House lawmakers who joined Democrats (are) now stepping up personal security, wearing body armor;. Our expectation is that someone may try to kill us,’ says Peter Meijer of Michigan. Many of us are altering our routines, working to get body armor, which is a reimbursable purchase that we can make,” Meijer said.  “It’s sad we have to get to that point. But our expectation is that someone may try to kill us.”

The Times of Israel reported, “Trump is fearful of legal exposure once he leaves office and is focused on issuing pardons before his term ends, including possibly for himself,” the report stated. The Times further printed regarding Donald Trump’s legacy, “the most terrible, horrific thing he has left us in America, is the destruction of truth… And a democracy can’t survive if there is no truth.”

Longtime CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer reflected Thursday that he was happy that his late parents, survivors of the Holocaust, did not live to witness the resurgence of anti-Semitism in the United States — particularly in the wake of anti-Semitic symbology appearing at last week’s deadly Capitol riot.  “I’m happy that they’re not seeing what’s going on now in the United States,” Blitzer reported after his cable news station screened video of his 2014 visit to Auschwitz, where his grandparents perished.

Whatever your political opinions might be, the foregoing is a reflection of what is now seen in Israel and across the Middle East. It is not a pretty picture. Hopefully this week’s inauguration will start a trend to reverse these opinions. However, with soldiers all over Washington and in every state capitol, the problem won’t be reversed quickly.

Does the opinion of leaders in the Middle East matter? If you value stability and peace, they do.

Let the miracles begin!

A New Pocast by Rev Wis, PhD about divine encounters!

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, Elections, Israel, Jews, The Middle East, Trump

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under America, History, Jews, The Middle East

WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THAT MONEY?

BLOG  494

NOVEMBER  16,  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.

WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THAT MONEY?

There’s an important street in Tel Aviv named Rothchild Avenue because the Rothchild family made a substantial donation when the city was founded in 1923. For centuries the world has known that the Rothchild name stands for one of the most significant bankers in European history. The success of the Rothchild family somewhat fueled the unfortunate myth that all Jews were wealthy. Today, people often wonder what has become of their wealth.

Here’s a recent development.

A member of the Rothschild banking dynasty has claimed victory in the first stage of a legal battle against Vienna over a family trust that was seized by the Nazis during World War II and then appropriated by the Austrian city.  Unfortunately, Vienna has always been known  as a highly anti-Semitic  city and is basically so to this day.

Geoffrey Hoguet’s suit revolves around a foundation set up in 1907 with the funds of his great-great uncle Nathaniel Freiherr von Rothschild who left the equivalent of about 100 million euros ($110 million) when he died in 1905 to provide psychiatric help for the needy.

Hoguet, a 69-year-old New York investor, is accusing Vienna of appropriating the foundation in breach of its founder’s will and “perpetuating” Nazi-era laws. He only  dscovered the foundation’s existence in 2018.

A court has backed Hoguet in an early stage of the legal fight, the Guardian  newspaper  (Manchester, England) reported  Saturday, stating that the city of Vienna has a conflict of interest over the foundation’s finances and that therefore the charity must be represented by an independent figure in the legal proceedings.  “The decision is an important first stage win in our legal battle with the city of Vienna to correct the course of Nazi-era injustices endured until today,” Hoguet told the newspaper. “In doing so the court recognizes the improprieties conducted by the city of Vienna since the Nazi usurpation of that foundation in 1938.”

Hoguet additionally called on officials in Vienna to “reinstate an independent governing board for the foundation and return the Nazi booty to serve its purpose as dedicated by my family.” At stake is, among others, a neurological hospital dating from 1912 whose elegant period architecture makes it stand out in a 230-hectare (300-acres) park on the capital’s outskirts.

The dispute recasts the spotlight on Austria’s ambivalent relationship with the Jewish banking family, whose history goes hand-in-hand with the former Hapsburg Empire’s financial and commercial success. “The history of the Rothschilds has been repressed” from Vienna’s collective memory, said Austrian historian Roman Sandgruber, who authored a 2018 book on the history of the Rothschilds’.

Vienna has not done well in these legal struggles that are a residue of World War II. And neither has the great city’s reputation.  

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 Jews, War, World

COMING EVENTS!

BLOG  491

October 26,  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.

COMING EVENTS!

Here’s two stories you’re not likely to hear about locally … but worth knowing.

NUMBER ONE!  

The Tel Aviv university has just launched the only graduate program in the world to focus on Ethiopian Jewish scriptures. Called “Orit Guardians,” it entails an interdisciplinary study of the Ethiopian Jewish scripture and its ancient liturgical language, Ge’ez, combined with the scientific study of biblical translation and interpretation, with the goal of recording the biblical scriptures that have been orally transmitted to the Beta Israel community in their own common tongues, Amharic or Tigrinya, for the past several hundred years at least.  “Bible departments all over the world are working on ancient translations and there has not been any development of a study of the Ethiopian Jewish tradition. No one has recorded the translation and interpretations,” Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni  said. “The reason, she asserted, “is mostly because until now, no one has had both the scholarly know-how and the language and cultural proficiency to speak with the kes, or priestly class, who, until the community’s mass immigration to Israel, led communal worship. We are trying to do is focus on the biblical side of the text and the translations and interpretive tradition, and we’re suggesting we can do it by using a set of professional tools.”

NUMBER TWO!

In previous blogs, I’ve warned there is smoke on the horizon. Here’s a recent development. The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday morning launched a large-scale exercise simulating war against the Hezbollah terrorist group, aimed at improving the military’s offensive capability. The multi-day drill — dubbed “Deadly Arrow” — will predominantly focus on how various headquarters and command centers work together and communicate in wartime, the military said. It was also set to include physical maneuvers by ground forces, naval vessels and aircraft.

The military explained the exercise would simulate a “multi-front scenario focused on the northern arena.”

The IDF believes that any future war against the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group would not only be waged in southern Lebanon, but would also include attacks from Syria and potentially the Gaza Strip as well.

Israel knows it can not close it’s eyes for a moment to the fact that terrorists never quit until they are dead. From the point of view of the Israel military, the Hezbollah situation remains tense.

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

MEET MEA SHEARIM

BLOG  490

October 19,  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.

MEET MEA SHEARIM

During my first visit to Israel I walked down the streets of probably the oldest section of Jerusalem. Long before the state was proclaimed in 1948, Mea Shearim had few tourists and was the foremost Orthodox section in the city. Strolling down the street felt like entering a time warp where the most traditional Hassidic groups called home.

It appears that the quarrel over masks has now landed in Mea Shearim.

The very public and contemptuous refusal of a substantial minority of Israel’s 12 percent ultra-Orthodox community to honor the governing authorities’ rules and restrictions in the battle against COVID-19 defies explanation.  They are placing their own lives and others in danger. But still more inexplicably, if that’s even possible, they are contradicting the values they say they most revere and hold sacred. In so doing, they are committing hillul haShem, desecrating the Lord’s name.

Ultra-Orthodox Judaism builds higher fences to protect the would-be faithful from the challenges, temptations and pollutants of our flawed human nature. And yet this substantial minority is willfully costing lives, showing contempt for others, and reveling in it.

Judaism at its core is about the sanctity of life. Humanity was created by the Lord in His image. To save a life is to save the world. Acting morally is sanctifying the Lord’s name.

The grim, unavoidable conclusion is that this minority, amid its emphasis on full-time study of our holy texts, its unthinking fealty to its leaders, its focus on raising the fences ever higher, has lost sight of Judaism’s precious core; the very humanity and morality the ultra-Orthodox approach is intended to elevate.

The result is catastrophic for all of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, marked by its distinctive appearance. They are inevitably all lumped in together with its most extreme elements; and for all of Jewry.

Israel has long suffered intra-Jewish frictions, between the secular and Orthodox Jewish mainstream. This is a function of the deep entanglement of religion and state, with ultra-Orthodox politicians at the heart of most of the governing coalitions. Most ultra-Orthodox youths neither serve in the IDF nor perform alternative national service They live at least partly at the expense of the state and its taxpayers, while simultaneously denouncing them and in extreme cases even consorting with our enemies.

How does one explain not wearing masks to save others under these circumstances? Beats me.

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 COVID-19, Jews, Judaism, World

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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Filed under America, History, Jews, War

THE SUMMER OF DISCONTENT IN ISRAEL

BLOG 482
August 310 2020

protests

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 SUMMER OF DISCONTENT IN ISRAEL

Everywhere one looks struggle, confusion, and despondency prevail. With American elections coming up, the TV viewer is berouged by negative and often lying political commercials. Are Americans alone in this quagmire? Afraid not. Look at public opinion in Israel.

The danger to democracy looms larger than security threat, poll says; majority see Netanyahu’s handling of the coronavirus as ‘poor’ and most oppose new elections. Israelis perceive the threat to the nation’s democracy as looming larger than the external security threat, according to an Israeli survey published Wednesday.

The Israel Democracy Institute survey found that only 38 percent of the respondents felt optimistic about the future of democratic governance in Israel, with 54% pessimistic. This compared to 59% who are optimistic about national security, with 35% pessimistic. Just over half (51%) give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “poor” or “not good” grade for his personal and ethical behavior. Netanyahu is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and for accepting bribes. A slightly lower number of respondents, 45%, said his performance handling the coronavirus crisis and running the government was “not good” or “poor.”

During the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, a majority of interviewees expressed high trust in Netanyahu’s handling of the crisis. Today, with a second wave of the outbreak shaking the nation, only a minority gave him a grade of “good” or “excellent” in that domain: 27% for Jews and 18% for Arabs, the report on the survey said. Netanyahu’s handling of the nation’s security policy is, however, still approved by most, with 56% of respondents giving him a grade of “good” or “excellent.

Amid recent chatter about the possibility of the coalition breaking apart, the data shows that the majority of voters from all parties oppose new elections, with right-wing voters wanting it the least, the report said.. The data showed that only 25% of Jewish Israelis and 43% Arab Israelis support dismantling the current government and going to new elections at the end of 2020.

You can’t make everybody happy, but Israel is certainly filled with plenty who aren’t positive or content. Where will it all go? Stay tuned.

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Arabs, COVID-19, Elections, Israel, Jews, The Middle East

NEW TENSIONS BETWEEN JEWS AND EVANGELICALS

BLOG 473
May 25, 2020

God-TV-Logo

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.

NEW TENSIONS BETWEEN JEWS AND EVANGELICALS

An evangelical broadcaster, who boasted of miraculously securing a TV license in Israel, now risks being taken off the air over suspicions of trying to convert Jews to Christianity. The controversy over “GOD TV” has put both Israel and its evangelical Christian supporters in an awkward position, exposing tensions the two sides have long papered over. Evangelical Christians, particularly in the United States, are among the strongest supporters of Israel, viewing it as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, with some seeing it as the harbinger of a second coming of Jesus Christ and the end of days.

Israel has long welcomed evangelicals’ political and financial support, especially as their influence over the White House has risen during the Trump era, and it has largely shrugged off concerns about any hidden religious agenda. But most Jews view any effort to convert them to Christianity as deeply offensive, a legacy of centuries of persecution and forced conversion at the hands of Christian rulers. In part because of those sensitivities, evangelical Christians, who generally believe salvation can only come through Jesus and preach the Gospel worldwide, rarely target Jews.

When GOD TV, an international Christian broadcaster, reached a seven-year contract earlier this year with HOT, Israel’s main cable provider, it presented itself as producing content for Christians. But in a video message that has since been taken down, GOD TV CEO Ward Simpson suggested its real aim was to convince Jews to accept Jesus as their messiah. The channel, known as “Shelanu,” broadcast in Hebrew even though most Christians in the Holy Land speak Arabic. “God has supernaturally opened the door for us to take the Gospel of Jesus into the homes and lives and hearts of his Jewish people,” Simpson said in the video. “They’ll watch secretly, they’ll watch quietly,” he added. “God is restoring his people, God is removing the blindness from their eyes.”

In a subsequent video, Simpson acknowledged that the channel was under investigation by Israeli authorities, saying that preaching about Jesus in Israel is a “very touchy subject.” He apologized for any offensive remarks and said GOD TV would comply with all regulations. Freedom of religion is enshrined in Israeli law, and proselytizing is allowed as long as missionary activities are not directed at minors and do not involve economic coercion.

“In recent decades, millions of Christians have felt the call to stand with the State of Israel and the Jewish people with no hidden agenda,” said Laurie Cardoza-Moore, a Tennessee-based evangelical who hosts a program called “Focus on Israel” that previously aired on GOD TV. “Any attempts to convert Jews or downgrade their religion will only [sow] undue hatred at a time when we should unite in the face of darkness,” Cardoza-Moore said.

The issue remains one of the major “hot-button” issues of our time in Israel. It will be interesting to see what comes next.

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Faith, Israel, Jews