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February 16, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 6787

Egyptian Writers: Israel Surpasses Arabs In Innovation And Scientific Development

February 16, 2017
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 6787

In recent articles, several Egyptian columnists lamented the fact that Arabs in general, and Egypt in particular, lag behind in terms of scientific development, in contrast to Israel's scientific achievements and its high global ranking in entrepreneurship and inventions. One of the columnists wrote that, had the Arabs made any technological advances, they would have most likely refused to share them with the world, so as to avoid cooperating with "infidels" and "enemies." The columnists called upon Arabs to emulate Western countries instead of viewing them as infidel, and to take advantage of their resources to establish advanced academic institutions such as Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science and the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion), instead of more and more prayer houses.

The following are excerpts from the articles:

Had We Invented Everything The West Has Invented, We Would Have Kept It From Them Because They Are Infidels

Al-Masri Al-Yawm columnist Osama Gharib wrote: "Arab contributions to modernity ended over 1,000 years ago. Throughout these past centuries, we have been exploiting the discoveries and inventions of others. They think, work, and invent, while we sit around idly. This begs the question: What would we have done if we had been the innovative ones who invented the phone, car, train, plane, refrigerator, washing machine, heating stove, radio, television, cellular phone, computer, rifle, bomb, missile, and cannon[?] We would most likely have kept them to ourselves and not allowed others to benefit from them via barter or export. This, on the grounds that the others are infidels, and it is [therefore] improper to befriend them or share with them the essence of our philosophy and enable them to enjoy what we enjoy or use what we use so as to save them time and make things easier for them. We call the West 'the Crusader West' to signify that it is an enemy that must be confronted, rather than collaborated with. Do I exaggerate when I say that we would have denied the West of our inventions and kept them only to ourselves, even if exporting them would have helped us operate our factories, hire employees, and bring money into our coffers[?] In my opinion, this is not an exaggeration, since [we Muslims] would have issued fatwas banning trade, [saying that] even if there is a lot of money in it we do not need it. [We would have argued] that bilateral relations with these people [in the West] anger Allah and His Prophet, that there is no blessing in money that comes from trade with them, and that we could lose out if our livelihoods depended on collaborating with the infidels.

"However, coming down from the heights of imagination and returning to reality, we find that it is the West invented everything that benefits people, while we are merely spectators cheering the match... Perhaps we should realize that the inventors were more generous and humane than us by sharing all they invented with us and not keeping it all to themselves. I know that some rude person might point out that they did not give us their products out of humanism, but out of business considerations, so we could be a market [for their products,] yielding them profit and opportunities for employment, gain, and self-realization. This is an undeniable fact, but there is another aspect to it. Had they seen us as we see them – meaning as infidels with whom one should not have mutual relations – they would not have sold us [anything] or made any profits off of us. However, their view, profit-driven as it may be, is more open and humane, recognizing the other's humanity and importance and understanding that it is vital to give the other some measure of progress, so that the world is not divided into a civilized camp and a barbarian camp. Some other rude person might claim that the West shares its inventions with us but does not reveal its secrets, in order to keep us from competing with it and outclassing it. However, this ignores the fact that knowledge is accessible to those who make efforts, and that no one volunteers to hold himself back and help his competitors. Ultimately, I know that the words of the sheikhs will prevail, and people [among us] will continue to believe that Allah placed foreigners at our service so as to spare us the evil and the headaches of [needing to] think."[1]

Israel Is At The Pinnacle Of Scientific Research In The World While Arabs Lag Behind

Metwali Salem, another columnist for Al-Masri Al-Yawm, wrote: "In countries that value knowledge, invention is viewed as one of the linchpins and pinnacles of investment, while in Egypt the level of interest in it, on the part of the government and the public, is minimal. It is a mark of shame [for us] that Israel is considered the second country in the world in terms of inventions... Furthermore, scientific research is high on its list of priorities, perhaps even its top priority, while we still espouse the mentality of failure and extremism, and our interest in science is confined to coffee house pontificating and living room chatter...

"Sadly, we are a nation that has gone from first place in the world [in terms of science and advancement] to last place, and everyone is feasting on the sickly and deformed body [of our peoples]... Meanwhile, Israel sits atop the throne of science, which we have ignored to the point that [our] university graduates and those with Masters and Doctorate degrees are a tiny minority searching for a livelihood – because the only thing their knowledge has gained them is diplomas that are listed on their resumes [but] bring them no benefit."[2]

Similarly, Al-Ahram columnist Ibrahim Al-Naggar wrote: "Israel defeated the Arabs in the science contest by seducing European and American scientists to come live there, while in Arab countries the brain drain continues and they fail to bring back [their academics] and benefit from them. The Arab League warned of the danger this poses to the security, political, and economic future of Arab countries after Israel took the 24th place among developed countries, the second place after the U.S. in scientific research and capability, and the fourth place after Japan, the U.S., and Finland in adopting technological developments."[3]

Israel Knows How To Exploit Its Resources, While Egyptians Have Not Exploited Theirs

Dr. Bahgat Korany, an expert on international relations and political economics, director of the American University in Cairo (AUC) forum, wrote in Al-Ahram: "Although there are many scientific schools [of thought] on development, everyone agrees on one thing: failure does not [stem] from a lack of natural resources. Japan is poor in resources, while Congo and Nigeria are rich in them. Development is about how you exploit existing resources and manage them – and that is why the human resource is of paramount importance, especially educated and talented people, whether in or out of their country. This is because, in the age of globalization and rapidly developing technologies, with the availability of teleconferencing [technologies] like Skype and similar [programs], the borders between countries have become irrelevant. Therefore, our scientists abroad are a fundamental part of [our human] resources, as has become clear from the experience of many.

"Thus, for example, Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel, was a chemist in Britain and contributed to the development of the weapons industry [there], and in return, convinced the British government to issue the Balfour Declaration, which is the basis for modern day Israel. Israel's development since then, and the victories this small nation gained over its neighbors, despite their greater population and resources, can only be explained by the way Israel exploits its external human resources – the so-called Israeli lobby in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and even Latin America...

"Even though Egypt has similar valuable [human] resources, too much time has been spent in [unsuccessful] efforts to exploit them... While many efforts were made [in this domain], for instance by [former Egyptian] ambassador [to the Arab League] Tahseen Bashir or [Mubarak advisor] Osama El-Baz, but no state-level plan has ever been carried out."[4]

We Need Institutions Such As The Technion And Weizmann Institute, Not More Prayer Houses

After President Al-Sisi declared that Egypt's new administrative capital[5] will include the country's largest mosque and church, Al-Watan columnist Khaled Montaser called to establish a research institute or large factory, and not just prayer houses. He wrote: "When will the world respect us and consider our opinion? It will respect us and take us into consideration not just because of the amount of weapons in our [weapons] depos, but due to our ability to manufacture those weapons [on our own] and invent new ones. Not because of the number of our mosque minarets or crosses atop church domes, but due to our inventions, scientific research, and certificates of participation in foreign academic courses... Instead of importing four out of every five loaves of bread consumed by Egyptians, the [Egyptian] researcher should diligently [explore] how to increase flour production in our mills... He should invest efforts in dealing with diseases and harmful plagues, and invent tools of engineering...

"Our rival and neighbor Israel, which was supposed to use religion for its needs and [exploit it] to justify its establishment and theft of Palestine, never announced or spoke of building the world's largest synagogue; instead, it takes pride not in its synagogues but in its institutions – the Weizmann Institute and the Technion. These are the two largest scientific research institutes in the Middle East and among the most important in the world... Mr. President, we need an Arab Technion [to be established] next to the biggest mosque and church."[6]

 

 

[1] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), December 27, 2016.

[2] Al-Masri Al-Yawm, November 24, 2016.

[3] Al-Ahram (Egypt), December 21, 2016.

[4] Al-Ahram (Egypt), December 27, 2016.

[5] In March 2015 the Egyptian authorities announced that a new administrative capital will be built east of Cairo. See e.g., ahram.org.eg, March 19, 2015.

[6] Al-Watan (Egypt), January 7, 2016.

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