Tag Archives: middle east

WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON IN SYRIA’S CIVIL WAR?

BLOG 298 April 11, 2016

The political wrangling in America has absorbed the headlines and pushed the civil war in Syria to the back page. Don’t let the insults and nonsense distract you. Events in the Middle East remain paramount.

In a brazen assault near Damascus, ISIS abducted 300 workers from a cement plant. At the same time, the ISIS supply line from Turkey was cut off, endangering their strongholds in the Aleppo area. With key military leaders being killed by airstrikes, ISIS is not doing well!

The next round of peace talks is set for April 13 and hopes remain positive for substantial progress.

One of the ongoing problems is that the United States remains hesitant and timid with no coherent strategy to change circumstances in Syria. While the USA has not conceded the Middle East to Putin, they are not far from doing so.  The kicker is the sudden withdrawal of Russian airplanes and troops from Syria.

The unexpected Russian retreat remains somewhat of a mystery. Even the White House had to “spit ‘n spatter” in trying to explain what happened. They didn’t know either. Always problematic, questionable, and unpredictable, Putin’s true and bottom line motives are seldom clear.

However, several possibilities are clear. First, Putin’s attempt to prevent the immanent fall of Assad has been achieved. Assad’s government is no longer in retreat. Second, the Russians are now keenly aware of the problem of getting bogged down in the Syrian quagmire. (They learned a painful lesson from their defeat in a ten-year war lost in Afghanistan in 1970.) Putin has pulled off from their first international military achievement since the collapse of Communism.

At this point, Russia has maneuvered itself back to being on an equal superpower playing field with the United States while the US continues to lose credibility and friends in the region. It would appear that Russian dominance in Syria has pushed Iran into an insecure position. They can no longer claim to be in charge.

As of this day, no one is certain what Russia is up to with this withdrawal. Whatever, the winner is Putin. While clearly corrupt and a new Stalin, Vladimir Putin is running an oligarchy that has made him one of the richest men in the world. You can bet the withdrawal from Syria is not a fluke. While Russia’s economy is shaky and the country is filled with dissidents that hate him, Putin has used his entry into the Syrian conflict purely to his advantage.

Anyone in Washington, D.C., paying attention?

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible Lands, middle east, Syria

A SECOND LOOK AT RACISM IN THE MIDDLE EAST

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Arabs, middle east, Muslims, Racism

CARNAGE COINTINUES IN SYRIA

The story from Syria — another day –another bomb — other deaths. On and on it goes. The sun goes down. The sun comes up and more smoke fills the air.

While I refuse to surrender to hopelessness, the never ending civil war in Syria has got to be the symbol of  despair. With over 60,000 killed (by United Nations estimates), the mortality rates continue to climb. The latest report details an explosion inside a university campus in Aleppo, Syria. Walls were blown off dormitories and cars left blazing. At least 80 people were killed. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 83 died and more that 150 were injured and in critical condition. The blame game continues as each side says the other did it. However, the evidence points to the Assad regime firing rockets that hit the university. The large scale extend of the destruction points to more powerful rockets being used than the rebels are known to possess.

Because the Syrian government bars independent media from reporting, it makes gathering reliable data difficult. However, reports and pictures leaking out of the country offer scenes of a landscape that looks like the cities in German at the end of World War II. Like skulls with empty eye-sockets and gaping empty mouths, the concrete remains stand like the skeleton of a decaying cow. Chunks of broken, jagged concrete stand in piles with barbed wire sticking out of the debris. Years of toil will be required to rebuild cities that have for decades already tottered on the edge.

Several years ago, I was in Syria and stayed in the downtown business area of Damascus. Pictures of the father and son dictators hung everywhere, even in the bathrooms and taxis. When I tried to pay my hotel bill with a credit card, they sent me to a bank to obtain Syrian currency. I stood in a long line as people shouted and shoved. After eating supper in one of their best restaurants, I contacted food poisoning that laid me up for three days. Getting the picture? Yeah, I knew I was in a dictatorship and a third-world country. I can’t imagine what that area must look like today.

On Saturday, January 19. a petition from 58 nations requested an investigation of the Assad regime for war crimes. The United Nations top human rights official had already called for an International Criminal Court to investigate the Syrian situation. The Syrian government rejected these moves saying they had a right to protect the people from “terrorism imposed from abroad.” The Assad government always refers to the rebels as terrorists. What prompted the pointed and harsh criticism was the BBC report of a massacre in Al Haswiya, a working-class suburb of Homs. At least 100 Sunni Muslims had been killed. The United Nations has not come out of this conflict looking like heroes. Far from it! Navi Pilay, the United Nations commissioner for human right has expressed dismay over the lack of action by the Security Council over these killings and abuses. She said,

I firmly believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed, have been committed, and should be investigated. I am deeply concerned that there has been no concrete action to address the situation.” She strongly backed the call from the 58 countries.

Will there be any change? Probably not until Assad falls.

Leave a comment

Filed under Civil War, middle east, Syria, Violence

CHANGE IS IN THE WIND

The just completed American elections beg a comment about the impact on the Middle East. If you didn’t notice, the presidential election signaled a highly significant shift in the United States mentality. The times they are a-changing!

Growing up as a boy in the southwest, I never paid attention to the folks who lived on the other side of the tracks – except that they were called negros. In high school going from house to house, I sold goods to these people. I got to know them. By the time Martin Luther King came on the scene, I was ready to fight for the blacks. Looking back, I now realize how significant the shift was in American society in the 50’s even though it didn’t explode until a decade later.

I would suggest the same is true today. Consider how the public responded on November 6.

Women are no longer going to be sent to the back of the bus or be talked down to.  Contraception and the care of their bodies won’t be left to men to decide. Equal pay for equal work is demanded. Like it or not, both abortion and homosexuality are now seen differently by citizens under 40. Homosexual bashing is dead. Oh, and by the way, Whites are becoming a minority. In this election, the Hispanic, Asians, and black populations swung the vote. Romney simply wasn’t one of them. Obama was. The re-election of the first black American president tells you just how dead racism against Blacks now is.

I am not espousing either a Republican or Democrat view of the current social landscape. As is consistent with what I attempt to blog, my perspective is neither biblical, prophetic, or political, but stating “what is.” Both parties must engage this new social reality. If you listen to the Glen Becks, Ann Colters, Rush Limbaughs, and Fox Networks alone, you won’t get it because they don’t either. (Because they talk only to themselves and don’t know how to listen). The same is true if you only listen to NBC, Chris Matthews, and Rachel Maddox. Your view must broaden.

What does this mean for the Middle East? In the third debate, Obama obviously ran rings around Romney and his views will now continue. Negotiations are waiting, and Iran has run into a wall of American sanctions and must negotiate or continue to slide downhill at an accelerating rate of speed. We have announced we are leaving Afghanistan and tomorrow morning is not too early. We can’t allow American soldiers to be shot in the back by Islamic fundamentalist looking for martyrdom. Egypt is now firmly in the hands of the Moslem Brotherhood and President Marsi is in control. The American State Department knows we are looking down a gun barrel in Egypt. Difficult decisions are ahead.

Syria remains a keg of dynamite with new changes exploding everyday. Now the Palestinians have entered the deadly civil war and are both fighting against and with the government. A shell hit Israel and got an immediate response, warning that Israel won’t allow Syria’s war to land on their side of the border. The continuing Obama administration finds all options on the table to be difficult and undesirable.

My point? Change is in the air. Many will ignore it or be resistant. Others will attempt to refute the obvious. Those who stay out of touch will be continually shocked by the shifts. I am not suggesting that you take any particular point of view, but do stay in touch with the facts. You don’t have to like the shifts, but don’t disregard them. They signal the new day that is emerging. Change isn’t going to stop.

1 Comment

Filed under America, Egypt, Syria

TWITTERING ACROSS SAUDI ARABIA

I have never traveled across the great deserts of Saudi Arabia, the heart of Muslim country and home of their major shrines. The prophet Mohammed is buried in Mecca and the country considered sacred. A resolutely devoted Muslim world, the Saudis have maintained rigid enforcement of their religious principles while rolling in oil income that has made the ruling family among the richest in the world. Of course, this means women cannot even drive a car. Until recently…

The solid foundation of social values now has a crack in it. What shifting international ideals and values have not changed Arabia, the computer and the internet have penetrated the shield. Twitter has revealed frustration and a rejection of how the male dominated country is run. Recently a tweet to Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (heir apparent to the throne) sent this audacious message. “Remember that we have no medical insurance, no jobs. Prince Salman has billions of dollars and don’t forget all the fenced-in land belonging to the royal family.” Wow! That’s a wake up call indeed!

In fact, the computer has become a new major factor in how the world is run. Even used as an instrument of war, the internet has opened channels that cannot be easily closed. It is widely accepted that America and Israel knocked out Iran’s centrifuges through a cyber attack via the computer. In turn, Iran has intensified their efforts to return the blow. In mid-October Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned that his department is now concerned the Iran may be the first country to launch cyberterrorism. Such an attack recently devastated computer systems in Persian Gulf oil and gas companies. Not unlike the Cold War, hidden espionage and assault continue to go on behind closed doors. Always an unpredictable enemy, national security experts know Iran is more than willing to use sophisticated computer-based methods of attack.

While nothing so vicious in mind, the Saudis are now waking up to how computer messages might affect their country. They did not experience the so-called Arab Spring, but the Twitter-type messages are still spreading a revolution. Prominent judges and lawyers have issued public criticism of large-scale government corruption and social neglect. Women fire away at the clerics who limit their freedoms and self-expression. Even criticisms have been leveled at the king. Unheard of!

A recent study revealed that Twitter has 2.9 million users in Saudi Arabia. While a person could remain anonymous or use a fictitious name, most of the Twitter messages come signed. One of the surprising twists in this revolution is that the internet has turned into a parliament of sorts: A true people’s forum.

One of the unexpected aspects of these messages is the depth of anger toward the royal family. Observers are now recognizing that without serious reforms, the placid Saudi society could erupt into violent change. A mysterious unknown writer name Mujtahidd (which means studious) has made sensational and detailed assaults on the royal family. With 660,000 followers, Mujtahidd is not likely to be easily shut down.

Iran and Saudi Arabia stand at opposite ends of the political spectrum but both reveal how radical the times are changing. The Saudis must take a long, hard second look at their society and we will do the same with Iran. Computers are not to be scoffed at!

Question: Want to Tweet the King in Arabia? You can. What would you tell him?

Leave a comment

Filed under middle east, Muslims, Saudi Arabia

LIFELINE TO LEBANON

While election news and excitement has captured American attention, important Middle Eastern eruptions continue to boil over. We can’t let current political events keep our eyes off the shifts in this important part of the world. Pushing Halloween aside, let’s take the mask off Lebanon.

As reported earlier, I have been in Lebanon a number of times and have a son who taught at the University of Balamand in Tripoli. Events in this country remain close to home.  And it should. Dr. Todd Wise and his five children could hear shooting in the streets of Tripoli. Not a good place for kids to play!

The assignation of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, head of intelligence for domestic security, has ripped the scab off long and old festering wounds. Al-Hassan was not only a Sunni but had challenged Syria and their ally the Shiite militant organization Hezbollah. This sectarian terrorist organization has become the most dominant force in Lebanon. Al-Hassan’s role had been a threat to both Syria and the Hezbollah leadership.

Hassan’s funeral erupted in political violence sending waves of  chaos across the country. As Al-Hassan was being buried in Beirut’s central Martyrs Square, thousands of mourners took to the streets. At issue was the contention that Prime Minister Najib Mikati was too close to Syria and the Shiite militant Hezbollah. Citizens wanted immediate change. Damascus’ hold on Lebanon slipped in 2005 after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Public outrage forced Syrian forces to withdraw from the country. However Syria’s Al-Assad managed to maintain influence through groups like Hezbollah. Citizens know Syria has bloody hands in Lebanon.

Lebanon’s history has been filled with wars and destruction for decades. After World War I, France gained control of a large area then called Syria, containing the Beqaa Valley that is now in Lebanon.  The Jordanian Civil War kicked Yassar Arafat and the Palestinian refugees out of Jordan and into Lebanon. From l975-l990, the Lebanese Civil War spread destruction across the land. It is feared that the death of Brig. Gen. Al-Hassan could again ignite the fires that have ravaged the country so often.

What can we conclude?

  1. The Syrian civil war continues to spill over into Lebanon. The highly volatile  situation can effect the entire region. The United States must pay careful attention to its option. The current Obama administration has been wise in avoiding sending troops and staying on the sidelines. America’s options are still evolving and it is a time to keep US cards close to the chest.
  2. Syria is ultimately responsible for the assassination. The Washington State Department has sent FBI agents to help investigate. Possibly, nothing conclusive will ever be proven, but no one doubts that Syria is still working its options even in the midst of a civil war.

Far from over, the Syrian Civil War has not yet removed Bashar Al-Assad from power although world leaders still believe he ultimately will fall. In the mean time, the Syrians have not taken their eyes off of Lebanon.

We cannot afford to either.

Question: How do you think America should play its options in Lebanon?

Leave a comment

Filed under middle east, Syria, Violence

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH IRAN?

If you’ve been following the Middle East situation closely, you’ve probably noticed a lack of information as of late. I’m not sure whether the news media is so locked on the American election that they cover little else …  or Syria has stolen the headlines … or  possibly the stories aren’t getting the coverage they deserve for reasons that I’ve not yet been able to ferret out. However, some important details have been developing behind the scenes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of course, has pushed a red line. While it’s not exactly clear where it is, he is pressing for cessation of uranium enrichment and full transparency for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspections. He believes the dismantling of the enrichment infrastructure is necessary for the world to know Iran is not attempting to build the bomb. At the same time, Israel knows that Iran will not negotiate seriously without massive pressure bearing down on them. We now have two hints that they seriously recognize the vise is tightening.

For weeks a secret manifesto has been circulating through Iranian asking for signatures protesting the status of the country’s economy. Addressed to Iran’s labor minister, this protest attacks the decline of their national situation. This uprising is the result that sanctions are having and also a protest against the mismanagement by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Such a dangerous statement in a tightly controlled nation demonstrates that sanctions are having a significant effect on the entire country. The current squeeze has put the mullahs behind the eight ball in a nation already filled with tension. In less than two weeks, their currency dropped around a third in value against the dollar and Congress is still considering expanding these sanctions. The result in a slumping economy points to a discontentment and growing distance between  the people’s economic hardship and the Islamic rulers militaristic desire for nuclear striking power. Although suppressed, the petition sounds like the man on the street is ready to     throw in the towel on making nuclear weapons.

On the other hand, the Ahmadinejab regime has declared oil sales to China and India can over ride the impact of sanctions. However, even he has recognized that international banking transfers have created big problem in keeping commerce rolling.

A second situation is the recent denial by Iran that they had offered a “nine-step” plan to resolve their problems with the West. Their “deal” was the lifting of sanctions if Iran eventually suspended uranium enrichment. They are now saying such a deal was never extended. The significant point is that Iran probably floated this idea to see what response it got abroad. Because they have been unable to break the stranglehold that America has on them, they would be delighted to dissolve the relationship that America and Europe have. If my contention is true, it also signals that Iran has made no progress in breaking the Allies’ intelligence systems.

Perhaps, we won’t get much international reporting and attention on this situation until after the election. It is now clear that Israel won’t be making a pre-emptive strike until after November. In the mean time, the economic   screws continue to tighten on Iran. Does this mean that the light at the end of the tunnel might not be a bomb explosion? Let’s hope so!

Leave a comment

Filed under middle east

MORSI SHOWS HIS STUFF

Please forgive my being dilatory in responding to blogs. Unfortunately, I caught a “bug” coming back from California. Nothing like a little virus to slow the train down. BUT now I’m back in gear and rolling once more. In the interim, we’ve had an interesting shift in power in the Middle East. President Mohamed Morsi has definitely become the new pharaoh of Egypt.

In past blogs, I put my money on the military to prevail. Bullets seemed to be stronger than boys with rocks. It now appears I misjudged. While it is hard to know why this shift occurred because the information is kept behind closed doors, probably the logic went something like this. The election was close, but everyone (with the exception of the Coptic Christians) is a Muslim and nothing is gained by having to fire on them. Morsi has turned out to be a guy who isn’t fooling around. Got to take him seriously. He may be the best choice Egypt gets. The generals decided to take him seriously. Moreover, the recent election seemed to suggest that the people wanted the generals out of politics. If that is correct, then the military had to back out or become a South American military junta. The result was Morsi now prevails. Of course, the current trend in the Middle East is toward the more radical wing of Islam. Probably, the answer was blowing in the wind.

President Morsi made a shrewd move in putting Washington on the defensive. Rather than allow Egyptians to take the blame for the embassy attack, he insisted Washington must show new respect for Muslim values and help build a Palestinian state. We are pouring billions into Egypt every year and he’s telling us to “give a little respect?” Afraid that’s the situation.

How do we decipher these actions? Because America is a pluralistic society, we have a hard time understanding theocratic cultures. As far as Morsi sees the world, there’s one way that is right and the rest of the planet is wrong. Morsi made it clear this week that Egypt intends to follow the principles of Islamic law. The president dismissed the idea that Egypt can be judged by any other standard than the ones Egyptians accept for themselves. He has said that neither a woman nor a Christian would be a suitable president of Egypt. In making these statements, Morse also made it clear that the new government will stand with the Palestinians … regardless.

America is now adjusting to the new reality with caution. President Obama described Egypt not as an ally. Avoiding using the word “enemy,” both Obama and Morsi recognized the world of Mubarak was gone.

Morsi had been a graduate student at the University of Southern California and knows America He had been troubled by the street violence in Los Angeles and dismayed by the looser sexual mores he found in America. Morsi didn’t approve of the “naked restaurants” with waitresses in skimpy costumes. Consequently, he is definitely not enthralled with the West.

Obviously, the current American election has made it clear that the USA stands resolutely with Israel. Israeli rhetoric aside, the Netanyahu government isn’t given any ground to the Palestinians. What does it mean?
Some tough days lay ahead.

Question: What adjustments must America make to have satisfactory relations with Egypt?

Leave a comment

Filed under Christians, middle east, Muslims, Violence, World

Compulsory Conscription For Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox

 

 

Israel’s Plesner Report recommended 80% of the ultra-Orthodox should serve in Israel’s military  or face criminal sanctions if they don’t. The report would reduce the length of service to 24 months where regular citizens now serve for three years. The aim of this report is to replace the old so-called Tal Law.

When the country began, David Ben-Gurion exempted the haredi at the urging of an advisor. The reasoning was based on religious grounds and had to do with the group’s study of the Bible. It has existed as a source of tension within Israel ever since.

Of course, the Haredi politicians reacted with outrage, calling the document evil and malicious. However, representatives of the Plesner group noted that national service was a religious concept and a Torah commandment. Torah does not oppose military service if a religious lifestyle is accommodated. However, the debate is far from ended, but definitely moving in the direction of compulsory conscription for the haredi.

 

Several years ago, I was walking through the Jewish sector of the Old City. A disturbance had erupted on the Temple Mount caused by Moslem boys throwing rocks at tourists. As I passed by an archeological sight, I saw at least a hundred girls in military uniforms with rifles sitting in the enclosure. Aged 18 to 20, the young women were ready to charge the Temple Mount if the disruption continued. Seeing women armed and ready to shoot stops one in their tracks. Of course, women have always served in Israel, but not without tensions.

Shani Boianjiu wrote in The New York Time about her experience in the military when the secular Jewish world encounters the ultra-Orthodox. She described an incident where she made the mistake of “touching” a soldier during a training exercise. Her job was to teach combat soldiers how to use their personal weapons. During the boot camp exercise, Shani’s task was to make sure that soldiers didn’t fall off balance. The squadding position could be awkward unless the soldiers were positioned correctly. Recognizing an error, she lightly kicked a soldier to expose how unbalanced he was. The man didn’t move. From behind, she put her hands on his shoulders. The man suddenly began screaming, “I observe touch.” Even though Shani was the man’s superior officer and trainer, she had violated a religious rule the military observed.

In her article, Shani Boianjiu, who is secular, described the tension in the military that ancient religious rules often create. One of these statues is that a women cannot touch a weapon in a man’s presence. Once while trying to demonstrate a grenade launcher, as soon as she actually put a finger on the weapon, her trainees disappeared. Their was no problem in being instructed by a women or having her point at the weapon. However, once she picked it up, the ultra-Orthodox soldiers cleared out. Why? While she never could get the point, it had to do with an ancient saying about women and instruments of war not mixing.

One of the major reasons these religious Jews feel they should be exempted from military serve is because of women working as military personnel. Currently, women compose about 30% of the IDF. Another one of these strange rules is that ultra-religious men are not allowed to hear women sing. Shani concluded that the tolerance of Israel’s leaders for religious needs at the expense of others is deeply unfair.

The struggle goes on and must soon come to some resolute as the old Tal Law has now run out. Prime Minister Netanyahu must make a major decision. Soon.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, History, middle east, Peace, World

An Update on Israel

 

Change is in the air.

 

A number of incidents have occurred lately that didn’t make headlines in America. They aren’t earth shaking events, but might help you keep abreast of the times are unfolding. Change occurs in the Middle East at the speed of light. Consequently, the more we know, the better we are to judge the situation and make sound judgements.

Were you aware that Russian President Vladimir Putin dropped in for a visit this summer? While the occasion was more of a state formality with a dedication of a war memorial, it is interesting that the country with a hard history of antisemitism should have the newly elected president drop by for a chat. My guess is that the stop-by represents a recognition of the importance of Israel in the world scene and a concern for an attack on Iran (one of Russia’s allies). If so, Putin got an earful. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres made it clear that in their view nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranians remained a threat to Israel and the world. Putin said nothing, but got the message. However, there’s no change with Vadim.

Russia continues to oppose more sanctions against Iran while supplying weapons to Syria (calling them defensive armaments). They have also used their veto power to shield the Assad regime.

While in Israel, Putin helped unveil a monument to the Red Army’s defeat of Nazi Germany. Such remembrances are important because of the enormous price the Soviet Union paid in World War II. Over a half million Jews fought in the Soviet Army and 120,000 were killed. The idea for the monument began with Netanyahu two years ago when he proposed the commemoration to Putin.

On a different front, the former financial adviser to Yasser Arafat Muhammad Rashid revealed that Fatah had a secret bank account in Jordan amounting to $39 million. When Arafat died, he was one of the wealthiest men in the world with a monthly allowance to his wife in Paris of $100,000 a month. Three billion dollars disappeared and has not been found to this date. Rashid stated that only Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and two of his associates could access the account. He challenged Abbas to admit this fact because he had longed denied the existence of such an account. After a long-standing battled with the PA leadership, Rashid has threatened to expose corruption and scandal involving Abbas.

Change? Well, the covers are being thrown back. Seems the Palestinian Authority continues to deal under the table just as Arafat did.

Here’s another surprise for you. East Jerusalem Arabs are increasingly applying for Israeli citizenship. Forty-six years ago, the Six Day War (Yom Kippur War) exploded and the citizenship of East Jerusalem shifted. Because King Hussein claimed the rights to the West Bank and the PLO called these Arabs Palestinians, they ended up in effect non-citizens. Today, 260,000 east Jerusalemites are still non-citizens. A high number of this group were born in Israel, speak Hebrew, and have been virtually absorbed into Israeli society. Today an increasing number are convinced no change will every occur and are applying for Israeli citizenship. The idea of a Palestinian may never be resolved. The status quo isn’t relevant to this group.

Change is moving right along.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, History, middle east, Peace, Prayer, World