Tag Archives: Palestinians

PLAYING WITH MATCHES!

BLOG 472
May 18, 2020

playing wmatches

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.

PLAYING WITH MATCHES!

My mother use to say that playing with fire was a good way to get burned. This past week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was warned that he’s fiddlin’ with fire. Standing in the shadows is President Donald Trump who is carrying a can of gasoline, waiting to serve his own purposes. Here’s the situation.

Jordan’s king warned of ‘massive conflict’ if Israel annexed land in West Bank.
Abdullah did not rule out suspending any peace deal with the Jewish state and insisted the two-state solution was ‘the only way forward.’ King Abdullah has warned that should Israel move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, it would lead to a “massive conflict” with his country, and did not rule out pulling out of Amman’s peace deal with the Jewish state. In an interview published Friday by the German daily Der Spiegel, Abdullah insisted that a two-state solution was “the only way forward” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Because of the on-going conflict with the Palestinians, many Israelis considered a two-state solution dead. Netanyahu is in that camp. The question becomes whether the Israeli public would support a move that could wreck their country and profoundly unsettle their lives.

The question that follows is what would happen if the Palestinian National Authority collapsed. The Times of Israel reports Abdullah’s answer is, “There would be more chaos and extremism in the region. If Israel really annexed the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. When asked by his interviewer about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intention to take advantage of the opportunity that US President Donald Trump has created to seize large parts of Palestine, he said, “I don’t want to make threats and create an atmosphere of loggerheads, but we are considering all options. We agree with many countries in Europe and the international community that the law of strength should not apply in the Middle East.

Dangerous indeed!

During the Arafat era, huge numbers of Palestinians fled to Jordan. Today a large portion of Jordan’s population comes from that migration. Abdullah knows that leaders who advocate a one state solution have no idea what that would mean for the entire Middle East.

Several European nations led by France, and including Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Spain and Luxembourg, have reportedly expressed support for threats of punitive action in a bid to deter the new Israeli government (set to be sworn in on Sunday) from carrying out the move with a green light from Washington.

Alone among most governments, the Trump administration has said it will support the annexation of West Bank territory as long as Israel agrees to enter peace talks. US Ambassador David Friedman said last week that Washington is ready to recognize Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank should it be declared in the coming weeks.

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, Gaza, Israel, Jews, Palestinians, The Middle East, Trump

PALESTINIAN RESPONSE TO TRUMP PEACE PLAN

BLOG 460
February 17, 2020

war

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.

PALESTINIAN RESPONSE TO TRUMP PEACE PLAN

If you caught this story on your media, you know that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, submitted a Peace Plan for the Middle East to the Palestinians. The response has been interesting although predictable. Here’s an update.

Essentially, the Peace Plan promised significant economic aid to the Palestinians for their economic development. On another front, the Trump Administration promised to recognize more land in which illegal Jewish settlements have been built as well as embracing all of Jerusalem for Israel. Trump’s plan would see the eventual creation of a Palestinian state over some 70 percent of the West Bank, falling far short of the minimal Palestinian demands and leaving sizable chunks of the territory in Israeli hands. How do we understand the actual situation?

If you’re a gung-ho enthusiast for Israel, you might be saying, “what’s the problem?”. On the other hand, if your interest is peace in the entire Middle East, you have other concerns. Here’s some of the “why’s” for where we are today.

The European Union on Tuesday rejected US President Donald Trump’s proposal for securing peace in the Middle East and expressed concern about Israel’s plans to annex large swaths of the West Bank that Palestinians seek for their future state. The country of Jordan and King Abdullah II stated, “Our position regarding the plan is very clear. “We are opposed to it.”

The Palestinians attempted to request a vote at the UN Security Council that would reject the peace plan of US President Donald Trump, whose administration has put heavy pressure on critics, diplomats said. Abbas couldn’t pull it off. The Jerusalem Report quoted a diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, saying that the United States has placed “very strong pressure” on other countries on the Security Council, including threats of economic retribution. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the plan “Zionist-American conspiracy.” His rejection ended up in a nasty war of words with Jared Kushner. In effect, the plan was dead before it came out of the White House.

The Trump Administration has made no bones about partiality toward Israel. This is generally seen as a political ploy that continues to distort any reconciliation between Israel and Palestine. Already essentially bankrupt, the Palestinian Authority has few options left accept war. Is another Intifada possible because of a peace plan?

As absurd as it sounds, unfortunately the answer is yes.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Gaza, Israel, The Middle East, United Nations, War

SEVEN THINGS TO KNOW AFTER FEBRUARY SEVEN

BLOG 459
February 10, 2020

conflict

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.

SEVEN THINGS TO KNOW AFTER FEBRUARY SEVEN

Keep your seat belt fashioned. Things may begin to heat up in Israel and the Palestinian area. Always an explosive situation, the Trump Peace Plan may have lit a fuse. Here’s Seven Key Points that the media in Israel is saying is immediately ahead.

1. Attack o’clock: A string of attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank Thursday have pushed tensions simmering just below the surface into full view, raising fears of a fresh wave of violence.

The front page headline in Yedioth Ahronoth reads “Non-stop terror,” which like other tabloids and TV news, is a mix of jingoism, fear and blame casting.

Just don’t mess up: “Don’t try us,” threatens Israel Hayom on its front page. The media focus is on troops being beefed up in the West Bank, Jerusalem and near Gaza. “The string of attacks in the West Bank have an especially flammable potential,” writes Israel Hayom columnist Yoav Limor. “It requires Israel to act with determination, but also smartly, in order to avoid turning this into a mass, deadly wave.”

3. Mistakes were made: The need for not messing up seems obvious, but it apparently was not heeded a day earlier, in Jenin, where Israel went in to demolish a home, leading to intense clashes and a Palestinian police cadet being killed, apparently by accident, after he was misidentified as a terrorist. Such sparks lit forest fires.

4. Mistakes were claimed: Meanwhile, the media reports on car-rammer Sanad al-Turman Friday, focusing on his claim that it was an accident and he lost control of his car, careening into a group of soldiers before fleeing the scene.

• Television news reports that Israeli authorities didn’t believe him for a second. “Firstly, the sources say, the car-rammer blew through a checkpoint while trying to escape [toward the West Bank] — even though soldiers there did not have guns drawn.”

The meaning? “I’m ready for war,” the channel reports.

5. Intifadeal: But the real blame is not pointed at the attackers but rather Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Donald Trump. There seems to be no doubt that the failing deal is to blame for the attacks.

• “The writing was on the wall from the moment Abbas spoke out publicly against the ‘deal of the century’,’” writes Amir Buhbut in Walla! news. “Abbas is sending double messages to the Palestinian public, not calling for violence … but not hurrying to put out the fires in flashpoint spots.”

• Television news reports that among those blaming Abbas is the architect of the plan, Jared Kushner, calling his comments a “harsh attack.”

6. Ehud-sucker proxy: Most other Israeli outlets focus on Kushner’s comments calling out a planned meeting and press conference between former prime minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas.

• “Olmert is voluntarily volunteering to give credence to the claim pushed by Abbas that only Netanyahu is to blame for the lack of a peace deal,” he writes. “While Abbas is backing ‘days of rage’ Olmert is enlisting to shield him, and hurting not just Netanyahu, but all of us.”

7. If you annex it, it is no dream: Israel Hayom’s Nadav Shragai looks on the bright side of things. Abbas’s rejection means it’s time to rock out with your annexation unfreezing pens out.

• Shragai adds that if Netanyahu cannot start annexing because the US wants him to wait until after elections, he can at least unfreeze building in parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank known as E-1 and Givat Hamatos, stopped because of bitter international opposition.

• “Diplomatic sources say that Netanyahu is devoting hours every day, either directly with the Trump administration or through pressure from Trump’s Evangelical supporters trying to extract something before the Israeli election, some kind of mini-annexation, anything to appease his disappointed base.

Sound ominous? It is.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Gaza, Israel, Palestinians, The Middle East, Trump

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.

You might find my book on near-death experiences important for you:
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF ETERNITY
Revell books

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaza, Israel, Palestinians

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaza, Israel, War

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Israel, Palestinians, Racism, War, World

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaza, middle east, Palestinians, War

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Israel, middle east