Tag Archives: The Middle East

TRANSITION AND CHAOS IN ISRAEL

BLOG 572

July 3, 2022

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.

TRANSITION AND CHAOS IN ISRAEL

As indicated in the last blog, Israel has suddenly developed a new government. The transition was complete this week. Yair Lapid officially became Prime Minister at the stroke of midnight between Thursday and Friday, taking office as the 14th premier in Israel’s history.

Lapid’s term leading the country could be a fairly short one, as he takes over a caretaker government ahead of national elections on November 1. But the new Prime Minister appeared determined to make the most of the potentially brief tenure, and bolster his prospects of winning a full term in four months’ time.

“We’ll do the best we can for a Jewish, democratic state, good and strong and thriving, because that is the job, and it’s bigger than all of us,” Lapid said at a handover ceremony with outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday afternoon.

On his first day in office Friday, Lapid’s first agenda item was a meeting with Ronen Bar, the head of the Shin Bet security agency, at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv. A statement from Lapid’s office said the meeting included a “broad defense and intelligence briefing on what is happening on the different fronts.”

Shortly afterward, the new prime minister held a meeting to discuss “the captives and MIAs” — a reference to the two Israeli men and the remains of two IDF soldiers being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

So much for a smooth transition. Here’s the chaos.

Dozens of ultra-Orthodox extremists disrupted three bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies at the egalitarian plaza of the Western Wall on Thursday morning, shouting over the services, calling the worshipers “Nazis,” “Christians” and “animals,” blowing whistles and ripping up prayer books, according to eyewitnesses.

“It was all really, really ugly,” said Laura Ben-David, who was hired by one of the families to photograph the bar mitzvah.

In one case, a young ultra-Orthodox man was filmed ripping a page out of a prayer book, or Siddur, and then wiping his nose with it while smirking. This was a particularly disrespectful act as books with God’s name in them, like the Siddur, are meant to be treated with the utmost respect in the Jewish tradition, which even requires that they be buried when no longer in use instead of being thrown out or recycled.

“How can a nation of Jews allow a reality in which people fear for their security when they are just trying to pray in their own way in a plaza that was specifically designated for this type of prayer?” wrote the Masorti Movement, Israel’s equivalent to the American Conservative movement, in a tweet.

Rabbi Arie Hasit, who officiated one of the ceremonies, said he was “broken” by the ordeal after the protesters called the bar mitzvah boy “a Christian… a Nazi and more.”

“This was an American boy who wanted to celebrate reaching the age of mitzvot, a boy who could have forgotten any connection with the Jewish people and the land of Israel but chose to go up to the Torah in Israel, in front of his parents, his grandfather and grandmother, and some family,” Hasit wrote in a public Facebook post.

There you have it! Just another typical day in Israel.

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ISRAELIS FACE NEW ELECTIONS

BLOG 571

June 27, 2022

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.

ISRAELIS FACE NEW ELECTIONS  

Politics in Israel are always complicated and surprising. Because the government is built out of a coalition of differing parties, change can come like a bullet when one or two parties no longer agree to the conditions of their union. Unexpectedly, this has just happened.

On Monday evening, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Yaair Lapid surprised the nation,  and many of their own coalition members, by announcing their intention to voluntarily disband their own government and send the country back to its fifth election since 2019, likely in late October or early November. They said they did so after coming to a conclusion that there was no way to maintain the current government.

Once the Knesset’s disbandment is finalized, Lapid will assume the premiership and Bennett will rotate to alternate prime minister, a title that Lapid currently holds. Although the Knesset will largely cease to legislate, the government will remain in place until a new one is sworn in, post elections.

The coalition on Tuesday pushed up its timeline for the Knesset’s disbandment and new elections, adding its dispersal bill to Wednesday’s legislative agenda. The Knesset Presidium approved the addition, and the Knesset House Committee granted the bill an exemption from the traditional 45-day waiting period between submission and an initial vote. The earliest the Knesset can disband is Wednesday, although a more likely scenario would be Monday of next week, as the legislation must pass four plenum votes and two committee reviews.

The opposition may try to outflank the coalition by creating a new right-wing coalition from within the existing Knesset, obviating the need for elections. This could be done by submitting a constructive no-confidence motion to swap the current government with an alternative proposed slate. If approved by 61 MKs, the alternate government automatically takes over. Such a motion can be attached to a private bill on Wednesday, or be presented as a standalone agenda item on Monday.

This would block Lapid from assuming the role of interim premier, a role that could conceivably last for many months until a new government is formed after elections, or even longer if the elections prove inconclusive and a government can’t be formed. Such a scenario saw Benjamin Netanyahu remain premier for a lengthy period after his government fell. While certain elements of the opposition and part of the coalition’s right-wing members prefer the option of reshuffling the current Knesset, the Likud-led opposition has had trouble assembling a minimum of 61 MKs agreeing to sit under its leader, former prime minister Netanyahu.

A coalition attempt to attach a separate bill to the dissolution bill barring indicted politicians from forming a government  (widely viewed as a personal bill against Netanyahu) was denied by the Knesset Presidium.

My, my, who should be standing in the shadows but old former Prime Minister Netanyahu. I told you Israeli politics was fascinating!

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ISRAELIS HIDE IN ISTANBUL 

BLOG 570

June 20, 2022

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.

ISRAELIS HIDE IN ISTANBUL     

Middle East terrorism takes many forms. One of the more alarming expressions occurred in Turkey this past week. Israelis were running for cover as Iranian agents roamed the streets looking for them. Here’s the story.

Friday’s warnings came a day after Israel’s National Security Council issued rare, specific instructions to Israelis in Turkey, telling them not to open their hotel room doors for delivery people, not to post about their travel plans on social media, and not to go to the same tourist traps that other Israelis often visit.

On Monday, the National Security Council raised the warning level for travel to Istanbul to its highest level, putting it alongside Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iran as places that Israelis must leave immediately and may not visit.

Tensions between Israel and Iran have intensified in recent weeks, after the assassination of a top Iranian officer in Tehran last month, a number of other deaths of security personnel inside Iran, airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria, threatening rhetoric from Iranian leaders and Iran’s increasing violations of nuclear agreements.

The latest warnings came after a week in which Israel has urged its citizens in Turkey to immediately return home, and issued its highest possible security warning for Istanbul, over concerns that Iranian agents are planning to kill or kidnap Israelis. The warnings came amid unverified reports in the press that Israeli and Turkish intelligence had together already thwarted several planned attacks by a broad network of Iranian agents, nabbing some of the suspects.

It is currently believed to be some 2,000 Israelis in Turkey.

Israeli media cited unnamed officials who said that Israeli agents were in Turkey working shoulder to shoulder with their Turkish counterparts in an effort to thwart the attacks, noting that there was excellent cooperation with local officials. There is a “manhunt right now in the streets of Istanbul to stop an incident that has already gotten underway,” the report said. “Being in Istanbul right now for an Israeli is akin to playing Russian roulette, tempting fate. If we could publicize the full operational picture, Israelis would be fleeing as they would a fire,” a senior official was reported as saying.

The Middle East remains dangerous for anyone who stumbles into one of these hot spots. Hopefully, there will be no explosive instances in the next few days.

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ISRAEL PREPARES TO DROP THE BOMB

BLOG 569

June 13, 2022

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.

ISRAEL PREPARES TO DROP THE BOMB

With American media headlines filled with political battles and inflationary stories, the possibilities of war in the Middle East continues to grow. Israel is upgrading its weaponry in preparation for a possible war with Iran. Rather than a timid wait-and-see mentality (as seems to be true in America these days), Israel’s Holocaust experience taught them to get ahead of their enemies. If nothing else, Israel’s preparation might give their nemesis pause to reflect. This week’s release of new information on fighter planes is an example.

In face of Iran’s continued development of a nuclear capability, the Israeli Air Force has developed a new ability to be able to fly its F-35 stealth fighter jets from Israel to the Islamic Republic without requiring mid-air refueling. The development is a boost to Israeli Air Force (IAF)capabilities and comes as the Israeli military has upped its preparations for a future strike against Iran’s nuclear capabilities. 

In addition, the IAF recently integrated a new one-ton bomb into the arsenal of weapons used by the F-35s (known in the IAF as the “Adir”) that can be carried inside the plane’s internal weapons compartment without jeopardizing its stealth radar signature.

Made by Rafael Advanced Weapons Systems, the bomb  is said to be autonomous and protected against jamming and electronic warfare systems. The bomb was recently used in a series of IAF tests, the results of which were presented to Defense Minister Benny Gantz. 

The IAF has held four large-scale drills simulating attacks against Iran over the last month. The first drill included confronting Iranian radar and detection systems, like those which protect its nuclear installations. The second included simulating long-range combat flights, in this case to destinations in Europe. The other drills included defensive measures against cyber weapons and electronic warfare systems that could be used by Iran to undermine an Israeli military operation. 

News of the progress in military preparedness came just a day after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Israel’s Iran strategy has changed in the last year, and it is “acting against the head… and not just its arms, as we had in recent years.”

During the recent military maneuvers, the IAF also developed cooperation between fifth-generation fighter jets like the F-35 and fourth-generation jets like Israel’s older model F15s and F-16s. The planes practiced sharing intelligence, missions and more. 

“Iran’s surface-to-air missile systems and radars are crowded and they are not the only challenge,” a defense official said. “We need to be able to attack targets that are significant and the attack needs to be able to cause extensive damage. There are multiple targets in Iran at different ranges.”

In other words, if Iran keeps advancing toward nuclear weapons, Israel is prepared to act swiftly. Iran might want to reconsider.

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ERUPTION IN IRAN

BLOG 568

June 6, 2022

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.

ERUPTION IN IRAN

The violent gun attacks on innocent people in America continue to dominate the media reports – as it should. However, the continuing turmoil in Iran is important. We can’t let dust settle on this subject. Iran remains in conflict. Here’s the latest.

Daily protests are taking place in the Khuzestan region, where the death toll from a building collapse last month in the city of Abadan has risen to 37 people. Addressing the ceremony at Khomeini’s mausoleum, Khamenei claimed foreigners hoped to harm the country’s regime through the unrest. His comments came as the Iranian regime launched a crackdown on the protesters, disrupting the internet in the oil rich southwestern province and violently dispersing demonstrators. While authorities have blamed corrupt local figures for the building collapse, demonstrators have pointed the finger at the government.

While addressing a ceremony in Tehran, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday blamed foreign “enemies” for recent protests in the country which marked 33 years since the death of his predecessor and leader of the 1979 Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Khamenei also accused the West of waging “psychological war,” after Iran was accused of “piracy” for seizing two Greek oil tankers in the Persian Gulf last month.  “They steal Iranian oil off the Greek coast, then our brave men who don’t fear death respond and seized the enemy’s oil tanker,” Khamenei said. “But they use their media empire and extensive propaganda to accuse Iran of piracy.” He added, “Who is the pirate? You stole our oil; we took it back from you. Taking back a stolen property is not called stealing.”

The seizures ratcheted up tensions between Iran and the West already simmering over Iran’s tattered 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Tehran has been enriching more uranium, closer to weapons-grade levels than ever before, causing concern that negotiators won’t find a way back to the accord and raising the risk of a wider war.

Iran’s seizure of the tankers was the latest in a string of hijackings and explosions to an oil region that includes the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all traded oil passes. The incidents began after then-US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the nuclear deal, which saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Talks in Vienna on the nuclear deal stalled in March. Since the deal’s collapse, Iran has run advanced centrifuges and has a rapidly growing stockpile of enriched uranium. Nonproliferation experts warn Iran has enriched enough up to 60% purity — a short technical step from weapons-grade levels of 90% — to make one nuclear weapon if it chooses.

The Biden Administration hasn’t spoken to this situation in some time. Let’s hope somebody in the White House is paying attention to the unresolved problem.

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ERUPTION IN IRAN

BLOG 567

May 30, 2022

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.

ERUPTION IN IRAN

The Middle East exists on the edge of violence. No matter what the country, the attacks are always imminent. Here’s the latest.

The New York Times reported Israel informed the United States it was responsible for assassinating an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quids Force officer in Tehran on Sunday.

In a briefing with American officials, Israel confirmed reports that Colonel Hassan Sayad Khodayari, who was shot dead in a vehicle, was deputy commander of the Quids Force’s Unit,  a secretive unit responsible for terrorist operations against Israeli and Western targets outside of Iran. Israel, according to the report, intended to send a warning to the Islamic Republic to halt the operations of the IRGC’s terrorist unit whose existence has never been confirmed by Iran.

Israel’s defense establishment was surprised by the leak. Israel and the US have a close intelligence relationship; something like this should never have been publicized, Israeli media noted. According to the per the report, Israeli officials are awaiting an explanation from their American counterparts, as the leak caught Israel by surprise and was expected to have come from a source in the US.Security offices in Israel reportedly fear the leaks might lead to a more “substantial” targeting of Israelis abroad as revenge for the killing.

According to Iran International, Khodayari was tasked with planning and executing strikes on Israeli citizens in Europe, Africa and mainly in eastern Asia, including the 2012 Bangkok bombing. He was also in charge of recruiting civilians in several countries to commit attacks against Israelis.

The New York Times reported that Israeli officials claimed the officer was head of Unit 840’s Middle East operations, as well as in nations bordering Iran. The report also noted that Khodayari was involved in attacks against Israelis, Europeans and Americans in South America, Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus.

Assailants on a motorcycle shot and killed Khodayari in front of his home on Mojahedin Eslam Street in the capital city of Tehran. Iranian authorities are searching for the assailants.The IRGC called the assassination a “criminal terrorist act of the counter-revolution and elements related to global arrogance,” a term often used to refer to the US and Israel.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett confirmed on Wednesday reports that US President Joe Biden has informed him he will definitively not remove the IRGC from the US’ list of foreign terrorist organizations.

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ERUPTION IN ISRAEL

BLOG 566

May 23, 2022

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.

ERUPTION IN ISRAEL

Lebanon hasn’t been on the media screen for some time. Having gone through civil war created by Hezbollah’s takeover of the country, Lebanon has faded from the front page. However, they remain an important part of the Mid-East scene. While I have not been inside Lebanon for some time, one of my sons taught at the University of Balamand in Beirut so we keep up.

Here’s the latest.

Christian leader Samir Geagea said this week that Lebanon’s hijacked sovereignty must be restored after an election denied the powerful Shiite terror group Hezbollah a parliamentary majority. “All strategic decision-making should return to the Lebanese state and security and military matters should be handled exclusively by the Lebanese army,” the head of the Lebanese Forces party stated.

“No one should be able to transport missiles from one place to another without the permission and knowledge of the military,” the 69-year-old leader added referring to Hezbollah.

Geagea’s campaign for the May 15 election centered mainly on disarming Hezbollah, cementing his role as the movement’s staunchest domestic rival. The Iran-backed Shiite group, which held a majority in the outgoing parliament together with its allies, is the only militia to have not disarmed after the end of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war. Hezbollah, whose arsenal outguns the army’s, is described by its supporters as a bulwark against enemy Israel, but it is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the US and other Western countries.

To challenge Hezbollah, Geagea is counting on alliances with other traditional powers opposed to it, including the Christian Kataeb party, and the Progressive Socialist Party led by Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.

At least 13 independent lawmakers who emerged from an anti-government protest movement in 2019 could also bolster their ranks, Geagea claimed. “We agree at a minimum on the need to build an actual Lebanese state away from corruption, clientelism, quotas, and private interests.”

Lebanon is grappling with an unprecedented financial crisis widely blamed on corruption and mismanagement by a bickering ruling elite that has dominated the country since the civil war. The country has been battered by triple-digit inflation, soaring poverty rates and the collapse of its currency since a 2020 debt default.

“Our ties with Gulf Arab states will certainly be restored and Gulf aid will gradually flow to Lebanon if a government is formed that can inspire trust and confidence,” Geagea said.

The swift formation of such a cabinet will also streamline IMF negotiations, according to the Christian politician. The IMF and Lebanon in April struck a conditional deal for $3 billion in aid.

Let’s hope better days are ahead for Lebanon!

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ERUPTION IN ISRAEL

BLOG 565

May 16, 2022

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.

ERUPTION IN ISRAEL

Israelis have come to expect explosions over almost nothing. One would think a funeral would be a solemn occasion with dignity. Sorry, it didn’t happen this week.

Israeli police violently dispersed an attempt by Palestinians to carry the casket of deceased journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to the Old City as thousands arrived to grieve for the widely beloved correspondent on Friday. Over ten thousand Palestinians paid their respects to Abu Akleh carried in a casket d during what became a long, tense funeral that wound across the city from Sheikh Jarrah to the Mount Zion cemetery. Cops used clubs against some of those around the casket, which almost fell, and fired stun grenades to disperse the crowd. The police said in a subsequent statement that it intervened because rioters took her casket at the hospital against her family’s wishes, and prevented it from being loaded onto a hearse, as previously agreed, for that part of the funeral procession. The clashes at Saint Joseph’s Hospital erupted after Palestinians sought to wave Palestinian flags. Police had designated that the procession would begin at the Jaffa Gate, less than two miles away.

However, in an interview with the BBC, Abu Akleh’s brother Tony appeared to deny the Israeli Police version of events, saying that the family and mourners hoped to hold a “small procession” but were “bombarded” by officers as they left the hospital.

A group of Palestinians at the hospital seized Abu Akleh’s casket in an attempt to begin the impromptu march, beating the hearse that would take her to the Old City, according to The Washington Post. Abu Akleh’s brother reportedly sought to calm the crowd and have them return his sister’s body to the hearse. “For God’s sake, let us put her in the car and finish the day,” he said.

“The crowd seized the coffin, leading the Palestinians gathered in the hospital square to cheer, carrying her casket forward. After a brief standoff, officers rushed the crowd. Israeli Police intervened to disperse the mob and prevent them from taking the coffin, so that the funeral could proceed as planned in accordance with the wishes of the family,” police said in a statement on Friday night.

Video released by Israeli Police showed at least one Palestinian hurled an object at Israeli officers before the dispersal began. The footage then showed Palestinians throwing objects at police after officers had moved to disperse the crowd.

Abu Akleh’s body was later taken by van, surrounded by a police escort, to the Greek Melkite Church near Jaffa Gate. Officers tore Palestinian flags off of the van as well before escorting it to the ancient sanctuary.

When Abu Akleh’s body was laid to rest, the crowd burst into repeated rounds of applause, honoring her work in death, as in life. Arif Hammad, a resident of East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood said, “She was a Palestinian icon. She told our story to the whole world. She gave us everything she had to give.”

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MORE UPDATES FROM ISRAEL

BLOG 564

May 1, 2022

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968,  Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.

MORE UPDATES FROM ISRAEL

For several weeks, I’ve been covering the explosive clashes on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  While the story about the Russian attack on Ukraine rightly grabs the headlines, the situation that has emerged out of the Muslim Ramadan is important to note. Here’s what occurred this week.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians worshipped at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on the last Friday afternoon of the fasting month of Ramadan after early morning clashes again erupted at the flashpoint holy site. The  Islamic Waqf that administers the compound estimated that some 160,000 people attended prayers. Afterward, hundreds of Palestinians protested in front of the Dome of the Rock shrine waving Palestinian and Islamic flags, but there are no immediate reports of fresh violence.

Following a security assessment after the prayers, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai vowed the police would remain vigilant.

The Palestinian foreign ministry responded. “What restraint are they talking about? Every day forces go into the compound, beat people, fire rubber bullets and tear gas at worshipers, and this Israel calls restraint?”

Earlier Friday, fighting had broken out between Palestinians and police on the Temple Mount, which has seen recurring clashes in recent weeks. Palestinians at the contested Jerusalem holy site threw rocks and launched fireworks toward officers and the Western Wall, located beneath the Mount, which police said led them to enter the compound to disperse the rioters. At least one stone thrown by the rioters landed in the Western Wall prayer area, police said. Masked men also waved the flag of the Hamas terror group, launched fireworks and chanted, “We’ll sacrifice our lives for Al-Aqsa.”

The clashes ended around an hour after they began when other Palestinians in the compound intervened, convincing the stone throwers and the police to pull back.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported 42 people were hurt, 22 of whom were taken to the hospital. None of the injuries were serious, according to the Red Crescent.

The Jerusalem Old City site is the holiest place in Judaism, as the location of the two biblical temples, and home to Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest shrine in Islam. Israel captured the Old City and East Jerusalem from its Jordanian occupiers in the 1967 war and extended sovereignty there. It allows Jews to visit but not pray there; the Muslim Waqf trust administers the holy sites atop the Mount, known in Arabic as the Haram al-Sharif, or Holy Sanctuary.

There’s surely more to come.  We’ll see. Stay tuned.

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TWO UPDATES FROM ISRAEL

BLOG 563

April 25, 2022

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.

TWO UPDATES FROM ISRAEL

Here’s a couple of items from Israel worth noting. Remember the “little girl in red” who was filmed in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. Guess what? She’s still around.

Now grown up, the Polish woman who played the standout part of the girl in a red coat has been helping Ukrainians fleeing to her country, and says she hopes her iconic role as an innocent victim of war will help draw further attention to the plight of modern-day refugees.

Oliwia Dabrowska, 32, as a child participated in the famous scene in the middle of the Holocaust movie when she was three years old. Oskar Schindler watching the dissolution of the Krakow Ghetto, suddenly notices the small child walking down the street. Strikingly, the girl’s red coat is the only bit of color in the entire black and white film. Later in the movie, Schindler sees the girl’s body loaded onto a cart.

Dabrowska, who lives in Krakow, told The Washington Post on Friday that when the war in Ukraine started and refugees began streaming into the country, she felt she had to do something. She convinced her mother to go with her to volunteer at the border, and has spent weeks helping to connect refugees with families who could host them, as well as driving them to various destinations across the country.

The numbers from Poland remain staggering. Over 11 million Ukrainians reported Friday. Nearly six out of 10 Ukrainian refugees — 2,867,241 so far — have crossed into Poland.

Here’s the other item. In Jerusalem the situation remains troubling. A Palestinian man who suffered a serious head injury during clashes on the Temple Mount on Friday has lapsed into a coma and is in a critical condition, his family stated. Palestinians say that the man, Walid a-Sharif, 21, was hit by a sponge-tipped bullet. However, police said he was injured after he fell and hit his head while throwing rocks.

Clashes and unrest broke out early Friday at the Temple Mount following both morning and afternoon Ramadan prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Calm was eventually restored, and evening prayers — attended by at least 100,000 Palestinians according to reports — passed with no major incident.

As the Muslim month of Ramadan continues, Israelis remain concerned for more outbreaks turning into a full- scale war. Rockets have been fired from Gaza and that’s not a good sign.

We’ll see. Stay tuned.

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