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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pakistani columnist on Arabs vs. Israel

From "The News" (Pakistan):
By Farrukh Saleem
Imam Ali Ibn Abi Taleb: "If God were to humiliate a human being He would deny him knowledge"

The League of Arab States has 22 members. Of the 22, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman are 'traditional monarchies'. Of the 22, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria and Somalia are 'Authoritarian Regimes' (Source: www.freedomhouse.org). Of the 22, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Morocco and Somalia are among the 'world's most repressive regimes' (Source: A special report to the 59th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights). Of the 330 million Muslim men, women and children living under Arab rulers a mere 486,530 live in a democracy (0.15 per cent of the total).

A mere two hundred and fifty miles from the 'League of Dictators' HQ in Cairo is the only 'parliamentary democracy' in the region; universal suffrage, multi-party, multi-candidate, competitive elections. Israel's 6,352,117 residents are 76 per cent Jewish and 23 per cent non-Jewish (mostly Arab).

Israel spends $110 on scientific research per year per person while the same figure for the Arab world is $2. Knowledge makes Israel grow by 5.2 per cent a year while "rates of productivity (the average production of one worker) in Arab countries were negative to a large and increasing extent in oil-producing countries during the 1980s and 90s (World Bank; Arab Development Report)."

Facts cannot be denied: The state of Israel now has six universities ranked as among the best on the face of the planet. Hebrew University Jerusalem is in the top-100. Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University and Weizmann Institute of Science are in the top-200. Bar Ilan University and Ben Gurion University are in the top-300. The Arab League does not have a single university in the top-400 (http://ed.sjtu.edu.cn/ranking.htm). One in two Arab women can neither read nor write (remember, "If God were to humiliate a human being He would deny him/her knowledge").

Israel's universities are producing knowledge. Israeli society is applying that knowledge plus diffusing knowledge produced by others. On the other hand, within the Arab League, repressive regimes have erected religious, social and cultural barriers to the production as well as diffusion of knowledge.

Look at how knowledge is abandoning the Arab world: Between 1998 and 2000 more than 15,000 Arab physicians migrated. According to the World Bank, "roughly 25 per cent of 300,000 first degree graduates from Arab universities emigrated. Roughly 23 per cent of Arab engineers, 50 per cent of Arab doctors and 15 per cent of Arab BSc holders had emigrated."

Israel, on the other hand, has more engineers and scientists per capita than any other country (for every 10,000 Israelis there are 145 engineers or scientists). Israel ranks among the top-7 countries worldwide for patents per capita.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Israel's pharmaceutical giant, is the world's largest producer of antibiotics (Teva developed Copaxone, a unique immunomodulator therapy for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, the only non-interferon agent available).

Facts are hard to deny: Most members of the Arab League grant Muslim women fewer rights -- with regards to marriage, divorce, dress code, civil rights, legal status and education. Israel does not. Spain translates more books in a year than has the Arab world in the past thousand years (since the reign of Caliph Mamoun; Abbasid, caliph 813-833).

Six million Israelis buy 12 million books every year making them one of the highest consumers of books in the world. Israel has the highest number of university degrees per capita in the world; the Arab world has the lowest. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other country (109 per 10,000 Israelis); the Arab world -- next to nothing.

Results are for everyone to see: The average per capita income in Israel is $25,000 while the average income within the League of Arab States is $5,000.

The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist. Email: farrukh15@hotmail.com