Tag Archives: The Middle East

SCROLLING BACK  

BLOG 512

April 12, 2021

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.

SCROLLING BACK  

It’s been way too long since I updated you on what archeology is doing in Israel.  There’s no place in the world where so many people dig for so much stuff than in Israel.  Because of  biblical history and ancient ties, every inch of the land is fair game. And the finds are amazing!

Here’s some of the latest.

A bronze coin discovered in Jerusalem’s old city dates back to the period of the Bar-Kochba revolt after the destruction of the Second Temple. Around 132 – 136, the final rebellion against Rome was the period when this coin was minted. Out of the multitudes of  ancient coins only four date back this far. Probably a bronze coin (in contrast to a silver one) was also a propaganda statement that Israel was an independent nation separate from Rome. (which it wasn’t)

Recently the oldest inscription describing the ancient city as Yerushalayim  was found.

The over 2,000 year inscription on stone read, Hananiah son of Dodalos of Jerusalem. The stone column comes from around the time of Herod the Great. While archeologists have no way of knowing who Hananiah or Dodalos were, the  nature of the text suggests they may well have been potters.  The piece comes from what was then the largest pottery making region near Jerusalem where pottery was made for cooking.  This site produced a village maintained by pottery makers.

The latest desert discoveries since the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls recently turned up in a desert area where refugees fled from the  Roman conquerors 2,000 years ago,  Over 80 fragments were found while some are considered dating back maybe as early as 10,000 years ago,  Some of the pieces belonged to a scroll of the book of Zechariah.  Some of these pieces represent discoveries that have never been found before.

Scholars are always concerned that looters will find such fragments and documents before they can be recovered.  However, these new finds remain highly important.  The authorities believe the scrolls were a hundred years old before they were hidden in the caves.

What does all of this mean? Such finds solidify that the Holy Land was occupied just as the Bible indicates. Jews maintain that their ancestors were always there. Of course, this does not sit well with the Palestinians, but the evidence remains a fact. Mover, these findings have consistently validated the authenticity of the scripture.

Equally important, an accurate picture and understanding of the ancient world is being reconstructed at an amazing rate.  In the few years that I have been wandering around Israel, I have seen the past come to life.  The picture is amazing!

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II

Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

Leave a comment

Filed under archaeology, Israel, The Middle East

ELECTION IN ISRAEL

BLOG 511

April 5, 2021

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.

ELECTION IN ISRAEL

Chaos continues in Israel following the past week’s election. No outcome now mandates another immediate election. The situation is not good!

The Israeli TV survey opinion poll found widespread dissatisfaction among Israelis with the inconclusive election outcome, with 80 percent of respondents expressing disappointment with the stalemate and predicting a fifth round of elections within two years would be called.

The poll came amid continued political deadlock following last week’s election,  which saw neither Netanyahu’s allies nor his rivals muster enough seats to form a coalition. In the absence of a clear winner, Netanyahu’s rivals in the so-called “change bloc” — composed of centrist, right-wing and left-wing parties — were clamoring to muster enough support to form a government instead of the Likud leader, but were split on who should lead such a coalition.

One consequence of the years-long election season is that the line between policy and politics becomes blurred. Netanyahu is notorious for exploiting any election advantage he can find, and, not surprisingly, Israel’s neighbors aren’t especially thrilled playing supporting roles on Netanyahu’s stage. At this time no one is rushing to help Netanyahu’s election campaign.

Sa’ar, a former minister, left Likud in December to form New Hope, with the aim of replacing Netanyahu. Shortly after its formation, New Hope polled as high as 21 seats, but the party steadily shed support to finish with just sixth in last week’s election.

Yesh Atid leader, Yair Lapid quickly responded to Sa’ar, saying “there is nothing I’m unwilling to consider” to replace Netanyahu as Prime Minister. “I said during the campaign and I say again now: The country is more important than my personal ambitions or anyone else’s,” he wrote on Facebook.

Nearly two-thirds of voters who backed parties seeking to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power believe his chief rival, Lapid, should stand aside and let Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett be prime minister instead, according to a Channel 13 survey published Wednesday.

With four consecutive elections failing to dent two years of Knesset gridlock, the “only democracy in the Middle East” is giving the rest of the region an up-close view of some of the more painful aspects of putting political power in the hands of the people.

So, where does Israel go from here? The road looks bumpy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Elections, Israel, The Middle East

PRIME MINISTER ELECTION IN ISRAEL

BLOG 510

March 29, 2021

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.

PRIME MINISTER ELECTION IN ISRAEL

While the early polls indicated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leading other candidates, Netanyahu couldn’t close the deal. The final results from Israel’s fourth election in two years show a nation deeply divided over whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should remain in office, with neither side having secured a governing majority.

Israelis vote for party lists rather than candidates, and seats in the 120-member Knesset are assigned based on the percentage of the vote. No single Israeli party has ever won a 61-seat majority, so an aspiring prime minister must assemble a ruling coalition.

The problem for the Prime Minister’s re-election was his facing a court trial for bribery and the handling of the pandemic. Netanyahu’s approach to vaccinations  seemed to propel him forward but the virus prevailed and infections remained high. When the Knesset failed to pass a budget in December, it signaled a new election was coming.

That often means courting fringe parties or even those on the other side of the political spectrum, offering ministries, official positions, budgets or other favors in return for their support. The negotiations usually take several weeks. If no one is able to assemble a 61-seat majority the country will go into an unprecedented fifth election later this year.

Former defense minister Naftali Bennett, a Netanyahu rival who hasn’t ruled out bringing his Yamina party back into the prime minister’s bloc, heads one of the few swing factions. But his seven seats would still leave Netanyahu two seats short.

Another potential power-broker is Mansour Abbas, the head of a small Arab-Israeli party who has said he would be open to partner with either side. It would be unprecedented for an Arab party to join Jewish parties in a governing coalition. But at least some members of Netanyahu’s party have said they would consider it. Others have fiercely opposed the idea, and Netanyahu was silent on the issue Thursday.

The election produced a split between those who support Netanyahu and those who  want to end his tenure, which has now reached 14 years. Lawmakers failed after each of those elections to cobble together workable coalitions, and political analysts said this cycle will be no easier.

Israelis are watching the political haggling knowing that the most likely outcome will be yet another election. “This round of elections was among the most challenging that the state of Israel has known. Beyond the fact that this is the fourth election in the past two and a half years, we experienced an enormous challenge in light of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Orly Adas, head of the Central Elections Committee.

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II

Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

Please watch and subscribe to my new YouTube channel MIRACLES NEVER CEASE, where I post interviews with people sharing their experiences with divine encounters!

Let the miracles begin!

Leave a comment

Filed under Elections, Israel, The Middle East

CHANGE BLOWING IN THE WIND

BLOG 509

March 22, 2021

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.

CHANGE BLOWING IN THE WIND

If you follow Israeli politics, the latest polls show Netanyahu ahead in the race for Prime Minister. That’s the update, but the big story is an important shift has occurred in Israeli society.

Israel’s High Court of Justice issued a groundbreaking ruling on Monday that will mean formal recognition by the state to non-Orthodox Jewish communities in the country. The ruling will likely spark a dramatic uptick in the country’s religious culture wars and, quite possibly, a move in the Knesset to clip the wings of the court.

Clarification is needed for what the decision doesn’t do: it does not require the Haredi-controlled state rabbinate to recognize Reform and Conservative conversions. Only the Interior Ministry must do so. And even there, the decision only slightly expands the scope of the Interior Ministry’s existing recognition for those conversions. After all, the Interior Ministry has for two decades formally accepted Reform and Conservative conversions conducted overseas as conferring the right to citizenship under the Law of Return.

Monday’s ruling is, in a sense, very narrow. It instructs the Interior Ministry (but not the rabbinate) to recognize as Jewish for the purposes of immigration (but for no other purposes, such as marriage or burial) only those few Reform and Conservative conversions conducted each year inside Israel. That’s the change. As of Monday, a non-Jewish non-Israeli living in Israel who converts to Judaism in the Conservative or Reform religious streams and then asks to become a citizen based on the Law of Return will have their conversion recognized by non-religious state bodies as conferring on them that right.

The Jewish state has long refused to recognize the institutions of the Reform and Conservative movements in the country, a shunning rooted in the political power of the ultra-Orthodox and religious-Zionist political parties. This all began when Orthodox religious parties got David Ben-Gurion’s ear just as Israel was becoming a state in 1948.

Very little is likely to change in the life of Reform and Conservative converts because of Monday’s ruling. But Israel itself will change.If the ruling stands, it will mark a watershed in state recognition for Jewish religious options long rejected by Orthodox political parties and the state rabbinic apparatus.

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II

Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

Please watch and subscribe to my new YouTube channel MIRACLES NEVER CEASE, where I post interviews with people sharing their experiences with divine encounters!

Let the miracles begin!

Leave a comment

Filed under Elections, Gaza, Jews, The Middle East

NOT IN THE NEWS

BLOG  504

February 1, 2021

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.

NOT IN THE NEWS

American politics and the COVID-19-virus captured the headlines sending Middle East events off  the back page. Nevertheless, important happenings keep coming. They are worth noting. Here’s a couple you’ll find important.

We haven’t heard much from Egypt lately as the riots and protests have disappeared. The surviving government of al-Sisi has been busy covering up the “Arab Spring” uprisings. The city square where the mobs gathered has been revamped with a large ancient obelisk placed in the center. The actual government and legislature are now being moved twenty-miles away from Cairo virtually out in the desert supposedly for more convenient access. Actually, it takes control away from possible radical attack.

It’s been several years since I was in Cairo. The metropolis is enormous with poverty.  Still the ancient municipality is an important factor in the Arab world. My guess is that the relocation of the government is for more secure away from Cairo insurgents.

In a recent blog, I reported that the attack that killed Iran’s top nuclear scientists would not go unanswered. My blog stated that the response would be less than a war and probably more like an attack on an embassy. Such happened this week.

The Blast outside Israel’s New Delhi embassy damaged cars. Nobody was hurt in the explosion apparently caused by a small improvised device. Israeli authorities treating it as a suspected terror attack aimed at the embassy and are stepping up security precautions at missions around the world. The Israeli ambassador said,  “The assessment is that this was an attempted attack aimed at the embassy this evening,” Ambassador Ron Malka added that the blast went off “a few dozen meters from the embassy walls. The district around the embassy was sealed off after the explosion and police and bomb disposal experts took over the scene.

The New Delhi Television news channel said the explosive device had ball bearings wrapped in a plastic bag and was left on the pavement outside the embassy. CNN India reported that police had found an envelope near the scene with the words “For Israel Embassy” on it. The report said police were not divulging the content of a letter inside.

A message was passed from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Israel has “full confidence that Indian authorities will successfully investigate the incident and protect Israelis and Jews there,” the Prime Minister’s Office responded.

Does that take care of a “pay-back” from Iran?  Probably not.

Hosted by Rev. Wise, PhD — Interviews with people sharing their experiences with divine encounters!

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

Leave a comment

Filed under America, COVID-19, The Middle East

TRUMP IN THE MIDDLE EAST

BLOG  503

January 25, 2021

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.

TRUMP IN THE MIDDLE EAST

A MIXED BAG

Historians are already at work assessing the impact that the last four-years had on the Middle East. Countries such as Israel have begun to identify the differences that the next four years might make. There will be ups and downs, depending on one’s perspective. Donald Trump broke with bipartisan convention in his Middle East policy. Some say he overturned stagnant conventional wisdom that rewarded foes while punishing allies.  Others argue that the former president damaged American interests and abandoned its long-standing commitments in the region.

Let’s consider what the experts are saying.

Professional Daniel Byman of Georgetown University studies the Middle East. He says, ”Donald Trump broke with bipartisan convention in his Middle East policy. President Trump, with many Americans behind him, openly derided longstanding US commitments, such as the security of Saudi Arabia when Iran attacked it with missiles. Trump’s Israel policy was focused on US domestic audiences, not on Israel’s role in the region. Many regional leaders appreciated Trump’s hostility to Iran, and many Israelis welcomed his uncritical support.  In the future, however, all states will have to reckon with the possibility that the United States is less engaged in the Middle East and may elect leaders whose policies vary widely.”

On the other hand, Efraim Inbar, President of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security writes, “The Trump administration also proved that the Palestinian issue is NOT the central conflict and a real barrier to better relations with Israel. The Trump administration also proved, by moving the embassy to Jerusalem, that a large part of the Arab world can live with Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Trump administration continued signaling that the US is diminishing its commitment to be the policeman of the Middle East.”

Of course, one dimension of Trump policy was obvious.  Trump leaned heavily in the direction of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates: he did not complain about their human rights records, triggered their renewed conflict with Qatar, continued the Obama administration policy of supporting the war in Yemen, helped when they needed it to raise oil prices, and protected the Saudi Crown Prince from accusations of murder.

We might conclude that whereTrump changed the Middle East most was Iran. He literally upended the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in one stroke. The assassination of Qassem Soleimani was probably the most significant act of his presidency. The green light that he gave Israel to target Iranian assets in Syria and beyond was also immensely important. Iran appeared feckless and unable to respond in most cases. One gets a sense that Iran is still on its back foot.

Trump did not exactly change the Middle East as much as he brought new realities out of the shadows.

We now watch to see whether the Biden administration takes advantage of the leverage that Trump has gifted him.

Let the miracles begin!

Hosted by Rev. Wise, PhD — Interviews with people sharing their experiences with divine encounters!

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

Leave a comment

Filed under America, The Middle East, Trump

BREAKTHROUGH IN MORROCO

BLOG  498

December 14, 2020

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.

BREAKTHROUGH IN MORROCO

Morocco’s ruling monarch King Mohammad VI confirmed Thursday that the country intends to establish official relations with Israel for the first time in nearly twenty years.  Morocco is the fourth Arab nation to recognize Israel in recent months as the administration seeks to expand its “Abraham Accords” framework, which began over the summer with an agreement between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates. Bahrain and Sudan have followed suit and administration officials have also been trying to bring Saudi Arabia into the fold.

The move is likely to raise hackles in Morocco. According to one recent poll, only 16 percent of Moroccans have a favorable view of Israel, while 70% view Israel unfavorably.

Unlike the other countries which have normalized with Israel over the past few months, Morocco has a genuine opposition and civil society. While true power largely lies with the monarchy, the parliament has been controlled by a conservative Islamist party whose roots trace back to the Muslim Brotherhood since 2011.

“Morocco will resume official bilateral contacts and diplomatic relations [with Israel] as soon as possible,” King Mohammad said in a statement. The statement followed an announcement that Israel and Morocco had agreed to “full diplomatic relations a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!” In a separate but likely closely-tied announcement, the US said it would recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a former Spanish North African territory that has been the focus of a long-running dispute that has confounded international negotiators for decades.

Israel and Morocco established low-level diplomatic relations during the 1990s following a thawing of ties between Israel and the Palestinians. Those contacts, however, were suspended in 2002 in response to the Second Intifada. Since then, however, the relationship has continued informally, with tens of thousands of Israelis traveling to Morocco every year.

Explaining the decision to normalize, King Mohammad cited among other reasons the long-standing presence of Jews in Morocco. An estimated 50,000 Israelis — many of whom are descendants of Moroccan Jews who left in the 1950s — travel to Morocco each year on trips, learning about the Jewish community and retracing family histories.

“Morocco has played a historic role in bringing the peoples of the region together and supporting security and stability in the Middle East… [there are] special ties that bind the Jewish community of Moroccan origin, including those in Israel, to the person of His Majesty the King,” the report  said.

King Mohammad said his country will aim to “resume official bilateral ties and diplomatic relations [with Israel] as soon as possible,” and that Morocco will soon facilitate direct flights to transport Jews and Israelis to and from Morocco.

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

Leave a comment

Filed under America, History, Jews, The Middle East

COMING EVENTS!

BLOG  491

October 26,  2020

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.

COMING EVENTS!

Here’s two stories you’re not likely to hear about locally … but worth knowing.

NUMBER ONE!  

The Tel Aviv university has just launched the only graduate program in the world to focus on Ethiopian Jewish scriptures. Called “Orit Guardians,” it entails an interdisciplinary study of the Ethiopian Jewish scripture and its ancient liturgical language, Ge’ez, combined with the scientific study of biblical translation and interpretation, with the goal of recording the biblical scriptures that have been orally transmitted to the Beta Israel community in their own common tongues, Amharic or Tigrinya, for the past several hundred years at least.  “Bible departments all over the world are working on ancient translations and there has not been any development of a study of the Ethiopian Jewish tradition. No one has recorded the translation and interpretations,” Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni  said. “The reason, she asserted, “is mostly because until now, no one has had both the scholarly know-how and the language and cultural proficiency to speak with the kes, or priestly class, who, until the community’s mass immigration to Israel, led communal worship. We are trying to do is focus on the biblical side of the text and the translations and interpretive tradition, and we’re suggesting we can do it by using a set of professional tools.”

NUMBER TWO!

In previous blogs, I’ve warned there is smoke on the horizon. Here’s a recent development. The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday morning launched a large-scale exercise simulating war against the Hezbollah terrorist group, aimed at improving the military’s offensive capability. The multi-day drill — dubbed “Deadly Arrow” — will predominantly focus on how various headquarters and command centers work together and communicate in wartime, the military said. It was also set to include physical maneuvers by ground forces, naval vessels and aircraft.

The military explained the exercise would simulate a “multi-front scenario focused on the northern arena.”

The IDF believes that any future war against the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group would not only be waged in southern Lebanon, but would also include attacks from Syria and potentially the Gaza Strip as well.

Israel knows it can not close it’s eyes for a moment to the fact that terrorists never quit until they are dead. From the point of view of the Israel military, the Hezbollah situation remains tense.

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaza, Israel, Jews, The Middle East

RAPID CHANGE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

BLOG 486

September 14,  2020

RAPID CHANGE IN 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.

In recent blogs, I’ve commented on the change occurring in the Middle East. Notably, the United States has little to do with most of this. movement However, these are signs that Israel’s position is shifting and receiving wider acceptance in the Arab world. These blogs were barely published when news arrived that Bahrain had established full diplomatic relations with Israel.

A day after the announcement that Bahrain is establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official said Saturday that Jerusalem would work to establish an embassy in Manama in the near future. The two country’s foreign ministers, Israel’s Gabi Ashkenazi and Bahrain’s Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, spoke on the phone Saturday, and exchanged congratulations on the deal and discussed the importance of pushing relations forward in various fields and in support of common interests

According to Kan news, in addition to the establishment of embassies and the appointment of ambassadors, the two countries have also agreed to the operation of direct flights as well as a number of unspecified joint ventures. Earlier this month, Bahrain announced that it was opening its airspace to Israeli flights.

Netanyahu hailed the agreement as part of a “new era of peace” and predicted more accords would follow. The Bahraini king’s senior adviser Khalid al-Khalifa said in a statement that the normalization deal “sends a positive and encouraging message to the people of Israel, that a just and comprehensive peace with the Palestinian people is the best path and the true interest for their future and the future of the peoples of the region.”

Regional power player Saudi Arabia remained noticeably silent following Friday’s announcement of a normalization agreement between Israel and Bahrain.  Bahrain is seen as a client state of its neighbor and close ally Saudi Arabia, and the tiny Gulf state is not likely to have moved forward with normalization without approval from Riyadh.

Predictable responses followed from the usual quarters. The Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terror group both condemned Friday’s Israeli-Bahraini normalization deal as another “stab in the back” by an Arab state and act of “aggression” against their people. Turkey and Iran also condemned the accord.

Israel is on a roll. Got to be a good sign for the Middle East.

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 Arabs, Gaza, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, The Middle East

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

BLOG 485

September 7,  2020

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.

A number of readers have made responses to the previous blog concerning the new Israeli-United Arab Emirates peace agreement. Certainly, it is a signal of changing times with practical implications for the future. Further analysis suggests some of these possibilities.

The agreement is the third peace treaty Israel has signed with an Arab state, but it is the first to contain the promise of a warm peace. This is in sharp contrast to Israel’s relations with prior accord partners Egypt and Jordan, which are limited to very narrow personal, diplomatic, and security relations. With Egypt, the peace treaty has rarely reached even that threshold. Hosni Mubarak, throughout his 30 years of ruling Egypt, never made an official visit to Israel, which is less than an hour’s flight away. In over a decade of rule, King Abdullah of Jordan. has abstained from visiting Israel despite meeting several times with PA head Mahmoud Abbas in nearby Ramallah.

The UAE peace treaty, unlike the treaties with Egypt and Jordan, was signed under quite different conditions. There is a wide expectation that it will be followed by one or more similar pacts with other states, especially other Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. No such expectations accompanied Israel’s peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan.

One major accomplishment has already been achieved by the UAE-Israel agreement. It has been largely overlooked, perhaps because it is a case of what did not happen rather than what did. Even as an El Al plane flew over Saudi Arabian territory carrying a bevy of Israeli officials, businessmen, and investors to the Emirates with the aim of promoting a warm piece, there were no demonstrations of consequence in the Arab world. Amman, Beirut, Tunis, Algiers, and Rabat, where demonstrations against the Israeli “occupation,” the “desecration” of al-Aqsa, and other charges against Israel are generally well-attended, were silent, at least on the street.

For Iran and the violent proxy organizations it supports, the lesson was vivid and painful. Not only was the Palestinian card they have played for decades visibly diminished in importance, but the lack of protest over the Palestinian issue contrasted sharply with the growing level of protest in Lebanon and Iraq regarding Iranian meddling in their internal affairs to the detriment of the native populations.

It is one more sign of long-term processes of political maturation in the Arabic-speaking public. The late senator and former Harvard professor Patrick Moynihan famously said that all politics are local. Indeed, mature democracies are usually characterized by populations that privilege local interests and welfare over universal concerns.

In today’s Middle East, populations are no longer clamoring for pan-Arab unity. They want better social welfare, greater economic opportunity, good education, innovation, the rule of law, and equality before the law at home. The Israel-UAF agreement fits those needs.

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 Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestinians, The Middle East