Tag Archives: President Trump


BLOG 432
June 17, 2019



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.


Is the United States getting ready to go to war with Iran? Sounds like it.

Isn’t it amazing how often the Middle East pops up out of nowhere and dominates the headlines? Here we are again with battleships steaming toward the Straits of Hormuz and threats being shouted across the bow. Is war really on the horizon?

Recognizing that President Donald Trump is as predictable as a charging rhino and that he is willing to take rash actions to divert attention from his troubles at home makes predicting his responses unpredictable. At this point the idea of impeachment is more that idle talk. Consequently, the recent attacks on oil tankers raises important questions about what comes next.

However, the experts are not predicting a war. H.R. McMaster recently told The Jerusalem Post, “There are two ways of fighting America. One is symmetrically and the other is stupid.” He believes that the only way a country like Iran can fight America is through terrorism and insurgency.

Iran can huff and puff, but they know they can’t square off against the United States. For one thing, their current economy is in shambles. Secondly, the Sunni Saudis are standing at their borders with their guns raised and aimed at the Iranian Shi’ite. Not a good position to be in!

The Iranian Air Force relies heavily on jets sold to them by President Nixon and they now lack spare parts. Consequently, the American Air Force is in a position to overpower their air force, destroy their air fields, and do so at a minimal cost to American lives.

Probably that fleet of American battleships came sailing in more to send a message than start a fight.

American sanctions are breaking their back. The better option is to sit down and hammer out a new nuclear agreement that keeps everyone happy. The best option for them may well be to come out with new negotiations that insure their survival. A little cup of something is much better than a whole bucket of nothing.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Iran, middle east, War, World


BLOG 375 December 11, 2017


How do you assess moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem and the President’s actions officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Every country in the world (except Israel) condemned the action. The State Department opposed such unilateral action. And the USA got nothing in return. The biggest bargaining chip went down the drain. So, what should we say?

Evangelicals rejoice. Palestinians scream. Politicians wiggle. Jews are divided. Interesting situation.

Perhaps, the question you’re asking is why Jewish people around the world would be split on a decision that supports Jerusalem as the capital of the Jews. After all, Jews have identified Jerusalem as their capital for over 3,000 years. The Passover doesn’t end with “Next Year in Tel Aviv.” The oldest continuous observance in history always concludes with “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

So, why are Jews divided?

They correctly view Trump’s actions as arbitrarily ending reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians. The Arabian world now understands American to be biased toward Israel. While the US always was partial to Israel, the country is no longer seen as a possible broker in the peace process.

By the way, Israel did not take Jerusalem from the Palestinians. Jordan controlled the West Bank and the Old City until the Seven Day War. Israel defeated Jordan. Yasser Arafat invented the idea that the Palestinians held the land. They did not.

Timing is the stumbling block. Even Jews who favor an American Embassy in Jerusalem are concerned that Trump’s actions are arbitrary and political –not strategic. For his own political reasons, the President has made a capricious move that has already ignited 30 demonstrations and two deaths. Unfortunately, more will come.

The larger issue is not whether the world should recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but why do so now out of the clear blue. The action was political theater.

The issue to watch is what happens next. Does an intifada follow? How much blood shed will flow? Will this action only further erode American influence in the Middle East? These are tough and important questions. We will all watch and see.

Stay tuned. More to come.


Filed under America, Israel, middle east


BLOG 366 September 25, 2017

            Iran is back in the headlines. President Donald Trump’s speech at the United Nations called Iran an international pariah. While the entire rest of the world is telling Trump to leave the nuclear accord with Iran alone, Trump seems to think he knows more than all the other nations. At this point, his narcissistic tendencies are dangerous. However, in the Middle East, Iran remains a major problem not discussed at the moment. Is there something more to the current concern over Iran than the press is releasing?

Let’s take a deeper look at what has been happening in Syria. Their persistent civil war has gone on the backburner with the problems of North Korea coming to the fore, but nothing has stopped in the conflict between the US and Russia as they stand on different sides of the Syrian conflict. More is afoot than meets the eye. On October 2016, Martin Chulov in The Guardian wrote “militias controlled by Tehran are poised to complete a land corridor that would give Iran huge power in the region.” Mr. Chulov put his finger on the problem.

A similar perspective was expressed in June in The Jerusalem Post by Jonathan Spyer. He wrote, “if the US and its allies are eclipsed in eastern Syria, the result will be the establishment of a contiguous land link from Iran, across Iraq and Syria to Lebanon and the Israeli border.’ As summer ends, it is clear that in the last several months the Iranian-backed regime in Damascus has increased in its power.  Clearly, the land bridge drive is picking up steam.

Add to this configuration the possibility that Iran is building a missile factor near Baniyas Syria. Israel has maintained a policy of interception of the flow of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah, striking whenever a shipment starts through. The creation of a new missile factory in Syria would provide a new way for Iran to aid it’s friends.  Now Israel must carefully re-think what it will do next. A new missile factory in Syria would pose a serious problem for Israel. In August, Prime Minister Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Iran is stepping into the role that ISIS once played and that Iran continues to threaten the annihilation of Israel. The creation of a land bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea would make Israel totally vulnerable. The stated intention of Iran is to use such a corridor against Israel. Netanyahu made it clear to Putin that Israel will not remain passive and allow such a passage to be established that is a direct threat to Israel.

The constant flip-flops of the Trump administration let Iran continue to march forward. There does not appear to be any consistence in the Trump foreign policy and State Department personnel have been leaving in large numbers. Virtually no legislation has happened since Trump took office and now it appears that the Health Care issue is going nowhere again. Israel is left standing in the cold.

Would somebody wake up the current administration that their lack of perception and action is allowing a land bridge to be established that in the end can actually backfire on the United States!

Leave a comment

Filed under America, middle east, Syria


BLOG 355 July 3, 2017

            With all the furor over President Trump’s tweets and adolescent responses to criticism, an important shift has gone unreported. Trump has actually made an impact in the Middle East that the Western media has not particularly picked up. Behind the scenes a shift is taking place that could have a major impact on the future.

One of the deficits of the Obama era was his reluctance to get involved and to push for creative change in the region. Obama basically walked away from the Syrian civil war, leaving it to Russia who in turn took Crimea and invaded Ukrainia. Obama’s warnings to Syria about chemical warfare used on their own people went unfulfilled and unheeded.

Whether Trump’s new overtures in the Middle East are only as impulse or are part of a larger policy (hard to tell at this time), his efforts are producing a new alliance of pro-US Sunni Arab states that could radically affect the Middle East. On June 4, The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain officially cut ties with Qatar. The Iranians and ISIS are being isolated by these efforts that signal Russia no longer owns the playing field.

Qatari money and the Muslim Brotherhood pushed for dominance, but their efforts are now dead. The Arab world has ruptured ties with Qatar which further isolates Iran. The Jerusalem Post reporter Seth Frantzman notes there are five reasons you should be aware of the current changes going on in the backrooms of the Middle-East. You are not likely to read this anywhere else.

  1. The shift hurts Hamas because Qatar supported the terrorist group. Hamas and their leader can no longer depend on unqualified support. Hamas will lose out in this new emerging allegiance.
  2. Israel is being brought closer to Saudi Arabia and Egypt as well as other Gulf states.

Israel can become a partner with the states that oppose terrorism coming from Iran and Qatar.

  1. The emerging alliance signals that the US is back in the region and will assert influence. Under Obama, Israel felt isolated and questioned whether he was truly a friend. Today, Netanyahu sees America as a friend they can count on.
  2. The new status helps de-legitimize terrorism. When Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other states work in concert to halt the kind of terrorism that has grown out of Iran, the winds of stability are blowing in Israel’s direction. New soundness is added to the region.
  3. Israel’s position in the Middle East is bolstered by this new alliance. When Qatar and Iran are the center of attention rather than the Palestinians, this is a good step for Israel. Harmony in the region is good for everyone, but Israel in particular.

The biggest loser in this new scenario may well be Hamas. The Arab states have come to see Hamas as an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood which they now label as a terrorist group. If Hamas is no longer bailed out by Qatar, they indeed have a serious problem.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Israel, middle east


BLOG 341 March 13, 2017

The Prime Minister of Israel and the American President appear to be all smiles and good buddies. America’s love of Israel supplies Trump with a good voting base and Trump’s compliance with Netanyahu’s goal flies high in Israel. But there’s a surprisingly unexpected strange connection between the two men.

They hate the media.

In recent days, President Trump has continued a relentless attack on the American media for reporting what he doesn’t like. Secretary of State Tillerson refused to allow media to travel with him to Japan, Korea, and the Orient, preventing the press from any objective reporting of what he is doing and saying. The Israeli Prime Minister is reading from the same play book. While attempting to correct media mistakes and fake stories, they both want to harness reporting to fit their liking.

Dangerous business! While many of us may not like what we read in the papers, the media remains one of the major safe guards of democracy and the truth. Attacking the media is attacking the facts. Watch out!

For some time commentators, have been after Netanyahu for trying either to attack or manipulate the press. Netanyahu not only took the Prime Minister’s job, but also the Communication Minister’s portfolio. This gave him the leverage to seek favorable coverage from outlets he once called “radically biased.” Israeli writer Nahum Barnes noted that what he called Netanyahu’s “obsession” with the news media showed him to be “gripped by fear and paranoia.”

Sound familiar?

On the eve of the election in March 2015, the Prime Minister’s battle with the media reached its peak. Apparently, Netanyahu feared that he could loose the election because of what he perceived as the media’s hostile coverage. Three days before the election, he launched a blitz against the press itself and won the election.

Currently, Netanyahu studiously avoids being interviewed. However, aides have confided he is acutely aware of every word written about him. Writers such as Ruth Margalit and commentator Nachman Shai are too good at what they do – to be trusted!

What do we make of the situation in Israel as well as America? Sure, the news media has its biases occasionally. In America, we have one network that is blatantly false in their reporting, but on the whole, the majority of the networks and journalists seek a balanced relentless reporting of events. When politicians attempt to stifle free speech, the public must demand accountability and exposure. When it was all said and done, the fall of Richard Nixon came because of the relentless reporting of Woodward and Bernstein. In spite of massive efforts to conceal the truth, the media revealed the mess!

You may not like what the press says now and then – but for heavens sake keep them reporting!

Check out Robert Wise’s BIBLE LANDS
For a view of 3,000 years of Holy Lands history






Leave a comment

Filed under America, Israel, middle east


BLOG 339 February 27, 2017


            Last week we began exploration of one of the most explosive issues facing the Middle East as well as the United States. With the change of leadership in Washington, D.C., the suggestion that America might alter policy that has existed for over 40-years has created intense speculation about what is ahead in solving the tension between Israel and the Palestinians.

Is President Donald Trump holding a stick of dynamite? Could be.

In 1988, David Grossman published in Hebrew The Yellow Wind, describing the smoldering hostility of the Palestinians. Originally intended to be The Yellow Time, but an Arab named Abu Harb told him about the yellow wind, the wind that will rise from the gates of Hell. Local Arabs call it rih asfar, the hot, terrible east wind which comes only once in a generation and sets the world on fire. The mountains will crumble into powder and the land will be covered with bodies.

This best selling book in Israel shocked many Israelis who had no idea the Palestinians had such hostility. Today, they certainly know. Unfortunately, the West is still struggling to wake up.

Let’s put it another way. Arabs are from Mars. Israeli’s from Venus. They are peoples of two radically different worlds.

Of course, many Arabs have higher motivation, but a good number are content to sit quietly, smoke a cigarette, and drink coffee in the morning sun light. They were happy with the land like it was. While some Arabs were Christian, most are Muslims.

Israelis reflect the democratic, industrialized world of Europe. Vast numbers migrated with a keen sense of what it was to be persecuted and annihilated. They came with cutting edge knowledge of science, technology, and a burning desire to create a safe haven for all Jews. They want a state that protects their Jewish faith.

Hey, we’re talking American Indians versus the cowboys and settlers. Again, Mars and Venus on a collision course!

All the rhetoric and political conferences in the world will go nowhere until they recognize the problem of this radically different political environments. Why is there no unity? Well, there is no unity in Christianity with its 40,000 different groups. The Arabs are currently killing each other over the division between the Sunnis and the Shiites. Judaism encompasses everything from the radical Hassidim to Reconstructionist divisions in Jewish thought. In our time, people are far better at splitting than unifying!

Make no mistake about it, Prime Minister Netanyahu will exploit these initial suggestions by President Trump to move the embassy to Jerusalem with the hint of trashing the two-state solution approach. And if this occurs what will follow?

No one can say for sure. However, should a yellow wind result, the Arabs have already warned it blows hot from hell itself.

Let’s all take a deep breath and think it over before we do anything foolish.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Arabs, Bible Lands, Israel, middle east