Category Archives: Racism


BLOG 437
July 22, 2019



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.


Tensions between Israelis and the Palestinians is easy to understand. The Palestinians say you took our land. Israelis say you left when the Arab world tried to annihilated us in 1948 immediately after we declared independence. You left; we stayed. And so the arguments goes on and on.

Because of the Holocaust, Israelis have been particularly sensitive about inclusion and racial conflict. They have always stood for tolerance. Jewish groups in the United States have been outspoken on this problem.

However, the Intifadas unleashed on Israeli citizens have only increased Jewish hatred for the Palestinians. Bombings in public buses have been curtailed with the building of the wall around Israel, but the most recent knife attacks on citizens only deepened distrust, fear, and hatred. When I was in Israel a few months ago, I witnessed an increase in prejudice and distrust of Palestinians. The tension is high.

Now add the complaint of the Ethiopians. On June 30, an unarmed Ethiopian young man was shot and killed by the police. Across the entire country protests rang out, forcing a national reckoning with how the blacks are treated in Israel, especially by the police. The country came to a standstill with protesters blocking roads and highways.

“The man is a murderer,” said Tekah’s father about the policeman who shot his son. “How did he kill my son in cold blood? He was a child.”

A tiny minority of 100,000 in a country of 9 million, the killing of 18-year old Solomon Tekah has emboldened the black community to speak out. You don’t have to talk to many blacks to hear stories of abuse by the police. One black said, “They know we don’t have money for lawyers. They know we can’t defend ourselves.” Israeli officials acknowledge a longstanding problem of aggressive tactics in response to minor violations. The police acknowledge the problem.

“We came (to Israel) because of Zionism, this is also our country, we are soldiers and police officers and we never killed anyone in cold blood,” Tekah said. “We demand that justice and the law are done.”

The Ethiopians are Jews that trace their roots back to the tribe of Dan and were flown into Israel by El Al when the government created Aliya by also gathering in Jews from Russia. They practice a form of Judaism that dates back to the first Temple destroyed 2,500 years ago.

In contrast. Israeli newspapers such as The Times of Israel condemned President Trump’s racist attacks on Democratic congresswomen. Yossi Beiln, a former justice minister, and Ayman Odeh, a politician, noted Trump’s family came from German only a generation back in 1885.

Yossi Beilin lamented Trump’s decision to “bring Israel into this matter,” arguing that it will cause considerable damage to the historically bipartisan support for the Jewish state.

Racism is troubling. Not only for Israel, but the entire world needs to take a second look at how people with differences are treated.

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Filed under Israel, Palestinians, Racism, War, World


A recent exploration of how workers are treated in Qatar revealed some interesting aspects of problems in this Arab country. Because people in Asia and countries like the Philippines have struggling populations, many persons hire themselves out as maids and servants. Citizens in Qatar are among the world’s richest with a gross national income of an average of $87,478 a year. This figure is twice what is true for the United States.

Here’s the kicker. The indentured servants are fortunate to make $275 a month or less. Recent research by Richard Morin in The New York Times found that while maids are promised room and board, they often only eat the left overs … if there are any. Because these servants are poor, they are virtually captives because in Qatar they can not leave unless their employers allows it (and they don’t).

This report coincides with findings that my second son Professor C.A. Wise, Ph.D. has made in Arab dominated areas of Africa. Tony, as I always called him, was a Fullbright Scholar and Professor in Burkina Faso as well as a Professor of American Studies at the University of Amman, Amman, Jordan. The author of many books, he has traveled widely in Arab countries including Morocco. Tony is an expert in third world literature. Recently, he completed a study of Arab racism in Mali.

Dr. Wise’s work demonstrates a long history of Arab racism and imperialism in that region. While all countries have racial issues, the problem is paramount with Arabs. No question that Jews have racial issues with Arabs and vice versa. In the United States whites and black still struggle. We can find the problem around the world. However, hate crimes against black people abound in the Muslim world. Unfortunately, these situations have been largely ignored by Western media The U.S. government has backed away for fear of getting into another Islamist conflict. However, the problem stretches back for centuries.

Dr. Wise’s research reveals that Mali has particularly been hit hard by the problem. American absorption with Al-Qaeda has narrowed the national focus. Consequently, the African situation hardly shows up on the nightly news. Nevertheless, countries in the sub-Saharan region are facing the hypocrisy of the Arab world on this issue. Important historic outposts like Timbuktu have had ancient and important manuscripts and artifacts destroyed by jihadists raids and attacks.

The point for the Middle East? Arab racism plays a part in the conflicts that the Arab spring has produced across the region. Anyone interested in this area needs to recognize this history and aspect of the problem. If you are interested and read French, Seneweb: Le Senegol dans le Web in the May 21, 2012 edition describes the problem in an article entitled Etre Noir au Maroc (Being Black in Morocco).

While the Middle East continues in a state of turmoil, careful analysis demands that we recognize this factor for what it is.

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Filed under Arabs, middle east, Muslims, Racism