August 16, 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.
FRONT PAGE STORIES IN ISRAEL
What are people reading in today’s newspapers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem? Here’s some of what is catching their attention. They have a new president. Isaac Herzog was sworn in as the 11th president, replacing Reuven Rivin for a seven-year term. He was sworn in with the same Bible used when his father Chaim Herzog became the sixth president.
In accepting the office, Isaac Herzog pledged to “lower the tone, reduce the flames, and calm things down.” A worthy challenge after the fireworks displays that Netanyahu left behind in his defeat. We’ll see.
The headline story is the chaos in Afghanistan. Israelis are closely following the insurgence of the Taliban. Opinions vary, but the following appears to be what they are thinking.
The Taliban’s stunning advances in Afghanistan threatens to be a stain on President Joe Biden’s record, but he has stood firm on withdrawing US troops and believes the public is with him. Twenty years of investment that cost $2 trillion and nearly 2,500 US lives were disintegrating within days as the Islamist insurgents seized most of the largest cities with little resistance and closed in on the capital Kabul.
Republican rivals predictably attacked Biden but he also faced the most critical coverage of his presidency, with television networks juxtaposing images of Afghanistan’s collapse with his remarks a little more than a month ago that “the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.” They are speculating Biden has put at risk the real progress in Afghanistan since 2001 including education for girls, banned by the Taliban when they last ruled.
Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said Biden allowed a “massive, predictable and preventable disaster” and former president Donald Trump issued a statement denouncing the “tragic mess” and writing in all caps, “Do you miss me yet?”
However, Trump himself set in motion the withdrawal with a February 2020 deal with the Taliban.
Biden, who through his decades in public life earned a reputation for empathy, has been unmoved when asked about Afghan losses and instead speaks of protecting US troops, a deeply personal matter as his late son Beau served in Iraq.
Both the former vice president and US opinion polls have shared his view for years. VoteVets, an advocacy group, hailed Biden for finally “having the strength to stand up to those who want endless war.”
Israelis remain concerned about what is ahead in Afghanistan.
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)