On June 7, 2011, two Saudi columnists – the liberal Khalaf Al-Harbi, of the Saudi daily ‘Okaz, and Fawaz Al-‘Ilmi, of the Saudi daily Al-Watan – published articles comparing Israel’s situation to that of the Arab countries. Al-Harbi opined that the secret to Israel’s success lay in its democratic regime and its respect for the human rights of its citizens, while Al-‘Ilmi wrote that Israel’s prosperity was due to its investment in education and science. It should be noted that these articles are a rare phenomenon in the Saudi government press.
Following are excerpts of both articles:
Al-Harbi: “Do We Really Still Believe that Israel Is a Temporary Entity Bound to Disappear?”
Al-Harbi wrote: “When we were young, the teachers exhausted us by reiterating that Israel is, without question, a temporary and transient country. When we got old enough to read, newspapers and books filled our heads with reasons why Israel could not [continue to] exist in its Arab surroundings. For years, we waited for the moment when Israel would disappear, and here we are [today, witnessing] the moment when the Arab countries are beginning to topple, one after the other.
“A few days ago was the 44th anniversary of the naksa [i.e., the defeat in the 1967 war], when Israel swallowed up Arab lands… A week or more ago, [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu delivered a brilliant speech before the American Congress in which he emphasized that Israel would not return to the 1967 borders. This statement means that Israel has achieved such a degree of complacency and tranquility that it is no longer willing to negotiate even over those lands it has admitted to occupying [in 1967], much less… over the lands it occupied in 1948. Do we really still believe that Israel is a temporary entity bound to disappear?
“Perhaps Israel will disappear in another 100 or 200 years, as no one can foresee what will happen in the future. However, looking at the current state of its Arab neighbors, I see addled countries, political entities that lack the ability to maintain their national unity, and armies that are not trying to wipe out Israel so much as to wipe out their own peoples…
“The secret to Israel’s survival, despite all the great challenges it has faced, lies in democracy and respect for the worth of the [Israeli] individual, regardless of [Israel’s] racism and brutality vis-à-vis its Arab enemies. The secret to the collapse of the Arab countries, one after another, lies in dictatorship and in the oppression of the individual… It is impossible for an Arab country, a neighbor of Israel, to succeed in liberating Palestine while denying dignity to individuals [within its own borders].
“Israel won war after war, and scooped up Arab lands larger than [Israel itself] in both size and population. It then went on [to develop] manufacturing, industry, and invention. The [average] income there is double [the average income] in the neighboring Arab countries. [Israel] has rendered itself an inescapable fact. Throughout all stages [of its development], it drew its power from the honor it granted to its citizens, while its Arab neighbors trampled the [poor] creatures known as their citizens under military boots.
“If only we could get in touch with our teachers to let them know that Israel still exists, while the Arabs are headed for destruction. In order to know who will remain and who will perish, one must always check who has democracy, human rights, and social justice.”
Al-‘Ilmi: Israel Is at the Pinnacle of Scientific Research, the Arabs at Its Nadir
Al-‘Ilmi wrote: “…Tawasul is the official website of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, and, unlike Arab websites, it updates its entries every 12 minutes around the clock and offers them in Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi, English, French, and Russian. On January 20, the website published a report which revealed that the only registry in the world for Arab bone marrow donors is located in the Hadassah Medical Center, associated with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It should be noted that the Arabs living in Israel constitute no more than 1.2 million of the world’s Arabs, who number upwards of 400 million.
“The report, prepared by Avigayil Kadesh, notes that Dr. Amal Bishara, who oversees organ donations at the Hadassah Medical Center – an Arab woman with a doctorate in life sciences and immunology – has single-mindedly visited more than 60 Arab villages and cities since the bone marrow registry was founded in 2008. [She did so] to further her own research and to supplement the Jewish registry, which has been active at the hospital for 22 years. Through lectures and social networking, the Arab doctor added 9,000 [Arab] donors, thereby enabling six [transplants] of donated bone marrow… It should be noted that 60% of Arabs [in need of such transplants] find donors within their families, and 90% of the requests for bone marrow transplants are for Arab children suffering from hereditary diseases due to consanguineous marriages.
“Before these Arab [donors] were registered, the Hadassah Medical Center largely failed to expand its donor registry, or to [arrange] donations from Jew to Arab or vice versa. But, thanks to the Arab doctor, perceptions have changed, and Arabs and Jews are willing to donate bone marrow [to one another] in order to save the life of someone they don’t even know.
“This year, Israel published numerous scientific studies that put it in first place worldwide in terms of the number of studies [published] per capita – 12 studies to every 10,000 people. America is in second place, with 10 studies [to every 10,000 people], followed by Britain, with nine. As for the Arab countries, they are all at the bottom end of these statistics.
“Reports on the gaps in science and technology between the Arabs and Israel show that the annual education expenses of the [average] Arab citizen has dropped to $340, while in Israel it is more than $2,500. Indices… that measure income, education, and health levels place Israel at 23rd place worldwide, while Egypt has dropped to 199th place, Syria to 111th, Jordan to 99th, and Lebanon to 82nd. As for the number of scientists engaged in research per one million citizens, Israel has 1,395, versus 136 in the Arab world… UNESCO’s statistics indicate that, on average, scientific research expenses in the Arab countries do not exceed 0.2% of the annual budget, whereas in Israel the figure is 4.7%, placing it in first place worldwide…
“For ten years now, Israel has been forming strategic ties with scientifically advanced countries in order to merge [its research] with their research centers, and in order to encourage its scientists to take part in international development programs. Today, there are 21 international science companies in Israel… It knows before everyone else the results of [these companies’] studies, reaping their fruits and using their scientific expertise to advance Israeli inventions.
“The Israeli strategy in science and technology is based on finding new approaches in scientific research and technological invention by training new generations of scientists – especially in physics, chemistry, and the natural and social sciences, as [Israel] is convinced that these sciences will allow it to control the world and direct its course.
“Since 1949, Israel has established marine geology and nuclear physics institutes, as well as [institutes] for the study of desert regions and information technology. Israel makes use of scientific research and technological development to secure its coasts and meet its [other] strategic defense and security needs, and in order to protect the environment, discover and develop natural resources and use them before others, produce electricity, communications, and information technology, and research [alternative] energy…”