Tag Archives: Palestinians

ISSUES THAT CANNOT BE IGNORED

BLOG 444
September 16, 2019

gaza

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.

ISSUES THAT CANNOT BE IGNORED

In these weekly responses, I have attempted to be objective. Rather than being persuaded by political circumstances or opinion, I attempt to let the chips fall where they may. One reader complained that I didn’t fully support Prime Minister Netanyahu and she thought he was wonderful. I pointed out that thinking any political figure was wonderful was the quickest way to be deceived and never see the light at the end of the tunnel. Didn’t suit her, but I pointed out that I went where the facts led. End of story.

In order to understanding the never-ending conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, one must consider both sides. Currently, Americans tend to consider only the Israeli position. The unequivocal total support by President Donald Trump has colored the picture considerably.

However, there are two sides.

The issues between Israel and the Arabs remains complex. Hatred exists in both camps.

Here’s some of the current problems on the Israeli side. The current government often talks of annexing the West Bank, but almost never of peace initiatives with the Palestinians.

While it is true Israel respects and often exceeds the standards of human rights and the Palestinians generally do not, Israel has the greatest military capability in the Middle East. Israel causes far more damage to the Palestinians, including citizens. Israel protects its citizens far better than the Palestinians can.

One of the biggest problems is that Israel builds settlements on Palestinians land but will not give Palestinians the right to do the same. The constant encroachment on Palestinian territory remains one of the most divisive issues that halts a peace treaty.

One of the thorniest issues between Israelis and Arabs is reflected in the fact that Israel has a substantial minority of Arabs while Arab countries do not allow Jews.  On the other hand, Israel often acts like a colonizer. The birth of the Israel nation also displaced ancestral land of some Palestinians. That issue has never been settled. Fifty-two years later Palestinians must still struggle for self-determination.

Israelis refuse to admit there is an occupation. However, Palestinians experience a painful and humiliating daily reality. I have seen this every time I’ve been in the Holy Land and was there last March. The prejudice against using a Palestinian Christian guide inside Israel makes it impossible for them to work inside Israel. In turn, Jewish guides are shut out of Bethlehem. The situation remains impossible and volatile.

My point? Don’t listen to only one side of this complicated situation. Recognize more is going on that is seldom fully and objectively reported. The complexity demands tolerance and careful consideration of all sides of the issues.

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MIDDLE EAST STRUGGLES

BLOG 441
September 2, 2019

middle east

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.

MIDDLE EAST STRUGGLES

If there’s one constant in the Middle East, it is conflict!

Like keeping up with the players at a Wimbledon Tennis Championship, one must watch all the time to know who’s shooting at who. People seem to be constantly agitated. Of course, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is filled with pathos and tragedy.

Terrorist organizations stay in business partly because their leaders have made a profession out of fighting and it keeps them wealthy while they pretend to be poverty stricken. Hamas remains as defiant as ever with no sign of releasing its hold on the Gaza Strip. Five years ago, the Israelis blasted Gaza after a never ending series of rocket attacks on Israeli settlements. The Israelis wrecked Hamas headquarters and Gaza City. Almost nothing has changed in the last five years, including rebuilding Gaza City. While Hamas promised to rebuild the homes of many families, nothing has followed and those Palestinians are holed up in apartments waiting for a better life. Hamas claims to have no money to help them.

The backdrop to this problem is the on-going feud between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). In the past two years, the PA cut salaries of thousands inside the Gaza Strip in what is seen as an attempt by Mahmoud Abbas to undermine Hamas. It’s the old Hatfields versus McCoys struggle.

Many political analysts believe Hamas fears a popular revolt in Gaza more than another war with Israel. At one point Hamas used ruthless force to suppress a widespread Gaza protest against economic hardships. The revolt of several youth movements came under the banner “We Want to Live!”

The situation in Iran is not much better. Suffering under the heavy American sanctions, the price of all goods has skyrocketed. Where a pair of shoes was once $10, it is now $100. Stores are empty and restaurants barren. Iran’s oil exports have been cut in half. The Iranian economy that contracted by 4% last year, is expect to fall 6% percent this year. Fruits are now considered luxury items. Families can’t afford meat. Factories are shutting down. The average Iranian believes they are already in a war.

You think they are wrong?

Iran is paying a price for the role it played by intervening in the Syrian Civil War. The Revolutionary Guard has now been labeled a terrorist organization. They propped up Bashar Assad, but he’s not around to help them. At one time, the Iranians seemed to thrive on conflict. Now conflict is chewing on them.

It’s not a good scene.

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RACISM IN ISRAEL

BLOG 437
July 22, 2019

gaza

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.

RACISM IN ISRAEL

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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NO PEACE IN THE EAST

BLOG 435
July 8, 2019

gaza

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.

NO PEACE IN THE EAST

Did you hear about President Trump’s Middle-East plan for the Palestinians? Probably not, because it made about as big a splash as dropping a penny in the ocean. Trump had earlier called it “The Deal of the Century.” The Palestinian reaction was “The Dump of the Century” and didn’t even show up.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, had been leading a team that worked for over two years to produce a comprehensive economic solution to the Palestinian problems. As the world knows, the Palestinian Authority (PA) offices in Ramallah and is always broke and lost the Gaza strip to Hamas. Kushner’s plan proposed to solve all these problems. With his usual modesty, President Trump said there would never be a Palestinian peace agreement if it was not negotiated during his presidency. Sorry, according to the Palestinians such humility and modesty isn’t going anywhere.

What are the Palestinian Authority leaders saying?

President Mahmoud Abbas described the plan as a “big lie” concocted to embarrass the Palestinians. They fiercely rejected Kushner’s plan and conference, refusing to attend and vowing never to accept any results from the event. The PA saw the plan and event as an attempt to undermine their aspirations for statehood and was only an effort to normalize Israeli status in the Arab World. They forbid any of their people to attend.

Following the conference, a Palestinian businessman was arrested in Hebron for attending. Saleh Abu Mayala was arrested by Palestinian intelligent forces. PA security attempted to arrest Ashraf Ghanam, a Palestinian businessman who attended the conference but escaped. Other Palestinian businessmen who attended the conference were also being chased. The PA meant business when it said, “DON’T ATTEND!”

Why such vehement opposition?

The Trump Administration has consistently bent over backwards to support Israeli objectives. As many Jews feared, moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem destroyed Washington’s ability to be a power broker. The US is not seen as neutral, but a staunch partisan favoring Israel. Abbas and company do not trust the Trump team.

Kushner’s plan was financially generous for the Palestinians. Creation of jobs and lavish spending was promised. Unfortunately, Abbas wants statehood. Kushner’s plan was seen as only an attempt to bribe them.

Where does the matter go next? Probably nowhere until trust and confidence is restored in America.

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UPDATING TRUMP’S MOVE IN JERUSALEM

BLOG 378 January 15, 2018

On December 6, President Donald Trump crossed the diplomatic Rubicon by declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of the Jewish state and shutting the door on Palestinians claims. Of course, this action flew in the face of the Vatican and virtually every other country in the world. The Muslim Arab world responded as expected. Turkish President Recep Erdogan called Trump “a partner in bloodshed.”  The Hamas leader said the move reflected contempt for Palestinians feelings and holy sites. The condemnations went on and on.

What do these response mean?

An analysis in  the December The Jerusalem Post has proven to be true. Ben Lynfield noted that the Palestinians will not get a strong response from Arab states. The bitter reality for them is that key countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are simply too dependent on the USA to get into a fight with the Trump administration. Cairo, Riyadh, and Amman will make no more than make accusatory verbal responses and then wait for the reaction of the street protesters to fade. The “sleeper” is Iran and concern for how to handle their current aggression. However, French President Emmanuel Macron said Trump’s action was dangerous to peace, defied international law, and would cause instability.

Gabriel Ben-Dor, a Middle East expert at the University of Haifa said, “The moderate Arab states will understand this is a compromise for Trump between his commitments and the practical realities. They’ll protest verbally, but that’s all.”

Critics will say that Trump’s move was personal, trying to divert attention from the multitude of personal scandals facing the White House. However, in his speech to the United Nations, Trump parted ways with the global idealism of all previous presidents back to George W. Brush.  American isolationists applaud such efforts while nations in the Middle East cringe in apprehension. Of course, Trump made this effort a campaign promise, but was he just dodging another bullet? Hard to say.

The crunch will come when (and if) the embassy is actually moved.

Trump’s response to this upheaval came on January 2, 2018 when he warned the Palestinians that he might cut off all assistance if they don’t show interest in making peace with Israel. Trump’s speeches and tweets are always a challenge to decipher as it is not clear what he means and the fact that the next day Trump may change his mind. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley clarified that Trump considered stopping additional funding until the Palestinians agree to come back to the negotiation table.

What’s next? Who knows!

Stay tuned.

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