Category Archives: 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

THE ELECTION, ISRAEL, AND IRAN

BLOG  495

NOVEMBER 23, 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.

THE ELECTION, ISRAEL, AND IRAN

Mr. Joe Biden, the American president-elect, has said he will ‘rejoin’ the 2015 nuclear deal. He has also stressed his ‘steadfast support for Israel’s security.’ From Israel’s point of view that’s a contradiction.

Before Biden is sitting  behind the Oval Office, he’s got an important issue to consider. US President Donald Trump declared three weeks ago that up to 10 more countries were preparing to warm their ties with Israel, with five of them firmly on course and the others also “right in the mix.” But that was before the November 3 presidential election.

Trump’s defeat to Joe Biden, and Biden’s explicitly stated intention to “rejoin” the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement  has at a stroke remade the region’s calculations on Iran. The question of which other countries, and when, might now decide to normalize their relations with Israel is only one aspect of the wider recalibration triggered immediately by Biden’s victory.

The Middle East doesn’t do vacuums, and Trump’s defeat is rippling across our neighborhood. The Palestinians have suddenly decided to resume security cooperation with Israel, and are indicating that they want to reestablish ties with the US, assuming that the Trump peace vision they so loathed is off the table. In Israel, with Trump deemed most unlikely to authorize annexation of settlements, since that plan was explicitly suspended under the terms of the Israel-UAE deal, Netanyahu is under pressure from his own right-wing camp to legalize dozens of West Bank outposts before Biden takes office.

And on Iran, the pieces are moving by the hour.

Anticipating a more empathetic approach to Tehran by a successor whose victory he has yet to concede, Trump reportedly mulled doing in his final weeks dismantling the ayatollahs’ rogue nuclear weapons program  by striking at one or more of the Islamist regime’s nuclear enrichment sites. That he was talked out of this by his worried aides, and that this has become public, has already emboldened Tehran, whose Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday magnanimously agreed to discuss how the US could reenter the 2015 deal, provided it first lifts all its sanctions on Tehran. This, even as Iran deepens its breaches of the deal by accelerating its uranium enrichment. Sorry. No deal there.

Israel remains the regional military heavyweight with no choice but to stand up to Tehran. After all, the regime avowedly seeks our destruction and works implacably to attain the tools to achieve that ambition. But Israel’s room for maneuver, and that of likeminded nations in the Middle East and beyond, is immensely widened if the United States fulfills its superpower role.

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaza, Iran, Israel, The Middle East

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

TROUBLE BOILING IN THE MIDDLE EAST Part 2

BLOG 488

October 5, 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.

TROUBLE BOILING IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Part 2

In my last blog, I described some of the tension brewing in Lebanon and Gaza that could have a future impact on Israel and the Middle East. My suggestion was that we must always keep an eye open for what is happening behind the scenes. Sometimes it’s good; sometimes it’s not. This just released news story from Iran makes the point.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Sunday unveiled a new naval ballistic missile with a potential range of over 700 kilometers (430 miles), local media reported, following months of tensions with arch-enemy the United States. According to Tasnim news agency, the missile, dubbed “Zolfaghar Basir”, is the naval variant of the surface-to-surface Zolfaghar ballistic missile. Its range is more than twice that of the Islamic republic’s other naval missiles, including the “Hormuz-2”, with a range of 300 kilometers, which Tehran said it successfully tested in March 2017.  Images published by Tasnim showed the Zolfaghar Basir installed on a launcher truck during the Tasnim did not specify whether or not the new missile has been tested yet.

inauguration of Tehran’s National Aerospace Park on Sunday.

 “This exhibition shows the comprehensive plan of the deterrent power of the (Islamic republic’s) system,” Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami said at the inauguration, according to Tasnim.  Iran’s Guards used the Zolfaghar in 2017 and 2018 against the Islamic State group in Syria in retaliation for terrorist attacks carried out in the country. The missile was also used in January to target bases in Iraq housing US troops, according to IRNA news agency, days after the US killed Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad.

The unveiling of the Zolfaghar Basir comes more than a week after an American aircraft carrier crossed the strategic Strait of Hormuz, and days after the Guards opened a new naval base near the waterway, through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes. The vital shipping lane and nearby Gulf waters were the scenes of heightened US-Iranian tensions late last year when ships were mysteriously attacked, drones downed and oil tankers seized.

Tensions have soared between Washington and Tehran under US President Donald Trump, who pulled out of a landmark 2015 nuclear accord and unilaterally reimposed sanctions on Iran. The arch-enemies have twice come to the brink of direct confrontation since June 2019.

Washington suffered a setback in mid-August when it failed to win support from the United Nation’s Security Council to extend an arms embargo against Tehran that will progressively expire starting on October 18.

Saudi Arabia won’t be happy with this development. Other Middle Eastern countries will feel the same way. Israel will be watching with a a finger on the trigger.

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 Gaza, Iran, Israel, The Middle East, United Nations, United States History

TROUBLE BOILING IN THE MIDDLE EAST

BLOG 487

September 28,  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.

TROUBLE BOILING IN THE MIDDLE EAST

This year in my recent trip to Israel, I observed the bitter feelings that exists between Israelis and Palestinians and vice versa. Hostilities are everywhere.  In recent blogs, I’ve celebrated the diplomatic breakthroughs achieved between Israel and Arab countries. Such is an important achievement. However, those accomplishments only mask a fierce reality waiting below the surface.

The Jerusalem Post suggested that Hezbollah had stored massive amounts of weaponry in Lebanon that were part of the terrible explosion in Beirut. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said,  “Iran has taken Lebanon hostage through Hezbollah.”   Moreover, in August Prime Minister Netanyahu warned Hamas (who controls the Gaza Strip) that Israel would respond forcefully if the terrorist group did not stop launching incendiary and explosive balloons into Israel.  

What is currently happening inside Gaza? Hamas military prosecutors on Thursday charged three Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip with “weakening revolutionary spirit” — a charge that could lead to years in prison — for holding a video conference with Israelis.

Rami Aman, a 38-year-old peace activist and Gaza resident, was detained in early April after holding a public “Skype With Your Enemy” video call in which Israelis participated. He has said his organization seeks to empower young Palestinians and that many in Gaza share his view that speaking to Israelis should not be forbidden.

“If I were to go into the streets and tell people ‘let’s talk with an Israeli,’ thousands of people would be here,” Aman said during a videoconference, (Facebook)

Authorities in Gaza view “normalizing” with Israelis as a criminal offense. While Hamas does permit merchants and those seeking humanitarian assistance inside Israel to communicate with Israeli authorities, it has cracked down on those who have sought to establish person-to-person ties with Israelis. “Holding any activity or communication with the Israeli occupation, under any cover, is a crime punishable by law; it is a betrayal of our people and its sacrifices,” Interior Minister Iyad al-Bozm wrote in a Facebook post in April.

Hamas routinely arrests and tortures critics and dissidents within the coastal enclave. Aman himself had already faced harassment by security forces for his activism. In July 2019, Hamas detained him for two weeks after organizing a joint bike ride with Israelis: Gazans biked side by side with Israelis, with only the security fence dividing them. On another occasion, Aman was detained for three days after he publicly criticized the alleged beating of a young man by officers from the Hamas-run interior ministry, according to Human Rights Watch. Although both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International immediately called for the activists’ release, Hamas authorities have held the detainees for five months without trial.

Get the picture? Hostilities could  explode at any time.

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 Gaza, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Palestinians, The Middle East

RAPID CHANGE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

BLOG 486

September 14,  2020

RAPID CHANGE IN 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.

In recent blogs, I’ve commented on the change occurring in the Middle East. Notably, the United States has little to do with most of this. movement However, these are signs that Israel’s position is shifting and receiving wider acceptance in the Arab world. These blogs were barely published when news arrived that Bahrain had established full diplomatic relations with Israel.

A day after the announcement that Bahrain is establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official said Saturday that Jerusalem would work to establish an embassy in Manama in the near future. The two country’s foreign ministers, Israel’s Gabi Ashkenazi and Bahrain’s Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, spoke on the phone Saturday, and exchanged congratulations on the deal and discussed the importance of pushing relations forward in various fields and in support of common interests

According to Kan news, in addition to the establishment of embassies and the appointment of ambassadors, the two countries have also agreed to the operation of direct flights as well as a number of unspecified joint ventures. Earlier this month, Bahrain announced that it was opening its airspace to Israeli flights.

Netanyahu hailed the agreement as part of a “new era of peace” and predicted more accords would follow. The Bahraini king’s senior adviser Khalid al-Khalifa said in a statement that the normalization deal “sends a positive and encouraging message to the people of Israel, that a just and comprehensive peace with the Palestinian people is the best path and the true interest for their future and the future of the peoples of the region.”

Regional power player Saudi Arabia remained noticeably silent following Friday’s announcement of a normalization agreement between Israel and Bahrain.  Bahrain is seen as a client state of its neighbor and close ally Saudi Arabia, and the tiny Gulf state is not likely to have moved forward with normalization without approval from Riyadh.

Predictable responses followed from the usual quarters. The Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terror group both condemned Friday’s Israeli-Bahraini normalization deal as another “stab in the back” by an Arab state and act of “aggression” against their people. Turkey and Iran also condemned the accord.

Israel is on a roll. Got to be a good sign for the Middle East.

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, Gaza, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, The Middle East

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

BLOG 485

September 7,  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 number of readers have made responses to the previous blog concerning the new Israeli-United Arab Emirates peace agreement. Certainly, it is a signal of changing times with practical implications for the future. Further analysis suggests some of these possibilities.

The agreement is the third peace treaty Israel has signed with an Arab state, but it is the first to contain the promise of a warm peace. This is in sharp contrast to Israel’s relations with prior accord partners Egypt and Jordan, which are limited to very narrow personal, diplomatic, and security relations. With Egypt, the peace treaty has rarely reached even that threshold. Hosni Mubarak, throughout his 30 years of ruling Egypt, never made an official visit to Israel, which is less than an hour’s flight away. In over a decade of rule, King Abdullah of Jordan. has abstained from visiting Israel despite meeting several times with PA head Mahmoud Abbas in nearby Ramallah.

The UAE peace treaty, unlike the treaties with Egypt and Jordan, was signed under quite different conditions. There is a wide expectation that it will be followed by one or more similar pacts with other states, especially other Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. No such expectations accompanied Israel’s peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan.

One major accomplishment has already been achieved by the UAE-Israel agreement. It has been largely overlooked, perhaps because it is a case of what did not happen rather than what did. Even as an El Al plane flew over Saudi Arabian territory carrying a bevy of Israeli officials, businessmen, and investors to the Emirates with the aim of promoting a warm piece, there were no demonstrations of consequence in the Arab world. Amman, Beirut, Tunis, Algiers, and Rabat, where demonstrations against the Israeli “occupation,” the “desecration” of al-Aqsa, and other charges against Israel are generally well-attended, were silent, at least on the street.

For Iran and the violent proxy organizations it supports, the lesson was vivid and painful. Not only was the Palestinian card they have played for decades visibly diminished in importance, but the lack of protest over the Palestinian issue contrasted sharply with the growing level of protest in Lebanon and Iraq regarding Iranian meddling in their internal affairs to the detriment of the native populations.

It is one more sign of long-term processes of political maturation in the Arabic-speaking public. The late senator and former Harvard professor Patrick Moynihan famously said that all politics are local. Indeed, mature democracies are usually characterized by populations that privilege local interests and welfare over universal concerns.

In today’s Middle East, populations are no longer clamoring for pan-Arab unity. They want better social welfare, greater economic opportunity, good education, innovation, the rule of law, and equality before the law at home. The Israel-UAF agreement fits those needs.

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 Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestinians, The Middle East

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under archaeology, History, Israel, The Middle East

THE SHIFTING MIDDLE-EASTERN SCENE

BLOG 484
August 24, 2020

deal

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 SHIFTING MIDDLE-EASTERN SCENE

There’s an old joke Jews tell each other. A wealthy man proposed to give a thousand-dollar check to representatives of faith if they could tell him who was the greatest man that ever lived. He asks the Protestant. The man answered, “Martin Luther, the founder of the Reformation.” “Thank you, the wealthy man said, but that’s not what I’m looking for.’ He asks the Roman Catholic and was told, “It is the Pope.” Again, he said this is not the answer. He asks the Rabbi who is the greatest man who ever lived. The Rabbi says, “Jesus.”

“Good heavens!” the wealthy man said. “I was sure you would say Moses.” The Rabbi replied, “Moses is Moses. Business is business.!”

The Rabbi’s answer describes the situation in the entire Middle-East regardless of country or background. They may scream and holler in public, but when they sit down at the business table. Business is business.

Keep that in mind when trying to understand the shift in politics when the Arab Emirates went public on their working with Israel in secret. They had concluded it was in their best interest to come out of the closet and admit they had been doing business with Israel for some time.

The Arab leaders had heard from both Jordan and Egypt about Israel’s reliability and assistance in times of need. Israel had helped shore up Egypt’s problem with terrorist in the Sinai bringing that intrusion to a halt. On the other hand, Arabs had become increasingly disillusioned with Washington not coming to their aid as they once believed American politicians would do. They could see in the last four years that Washington had backed away from stopping Iran’s pursuit of nuclear power or crippling them with sanctions. Israel was now seen as more dependable than America.

Moreover, the Arab Spring brought the recognition that that popular anger at repression and corruption could backfire on them. Old campaign slogans against Israel were going out of style. The real menace was now Iran. Israel had demonstrated they were prepared to halt Iran by themselves if necessary. Because of the longstanding struggle with Iran, the Emirates were now glad to lean on Israel.

Former head of Mossad, Meir Dagan much earlier recognized an intersection of interests in the Arab world with Israel’s concerns. The old problems were dying as new ones emerged. Prejudices were shifting.

Let’s fact it. Business is business.

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, Arabs, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, The Middle East