Addustour reports on the Conference of Arab Social Affairs Ministers, held in Beirut on Saturday.
Among the statistics released is that the number of Arab citizens who live below the poverty line is between 65 and 73 million, and ten million Arabs are suffering from malnutrition.
According to statistics, the unemployment rate in Arab lands is at 20 percent and that the Arabs will need 51 million new jobs for young people by 2020. The Arab population is expected to increase to 645 million by 2050.
The number of illiterates of people 15 or older has grown to reach nearly 5.99 million people, according to UNESCO, and the illiteracy rate in the the Arab world is at 9.27 percent.
There is of course an easy way to help fix these problems:
Make peace with Israel.
Israeli experts would be thrilled to travel openly to Arab countries and work with them on economic, education and health issues, to create joint projects that would employ tens of thousands, to raise everyone's standard of living and to creatively come up with comprehensive solutions to regional issues. The benefits of a real, warm peace with Israel would be huge for all Arab countries.
And there would be another benefit.
If a few Gulf states would break with their Arab neighbors and embrace Israel as a fact, it would bring peace with the Palestinian Arabs that much closer. The intransigence of the Palestinian Arab leaders is based partially on the unwavering paper support from their Arab "brethren."
They would be far more likely to accept a peace plan if they felt that this support that Arab leaders have given them was in jeopardy.
Everyone would win.
Unfortunately, the Arab mentality is not win-win, but a zero-sum game. They believe that if Israelis want to do something, it must by definition be fought against. (Arab pride will not allow them to accept help from the hated Zionists anyway.)
So their people will continue to suffer. Hundreds of billions of petrodollars will remain in the hands of the rich Arabs and poverty will increase along with the high Arab birthrates.
And Arabs will continue to be fed the lie that Israel is the reason for all their problems.
And the funny thing is, even supposedly progressive, "pro-peace" liberals are not calling for Arab nations to unconditionally establish warm, peaceful relations with Israel, even though it would benefit the Arabs - and ultimately their Palestinians - so richly.
On the contrary, they want to keep them in an official state of war.
Ironic, isn't it?