February 20, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7344

Lebanese Journalist: 100 Years After Balfour Declaration, The Arabs Have Failed Where Israel Has Excelled

February 20, 2018
Lebanon, Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 7344

In a November 25, 2017 article marking the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, published in the London-based daily Al-Hayat, Lebanese journalist Karam Al-Hilu compared the meager accomplishments of the Arab world in the past century with those of the rest of the countries of the world, particularly Israel. He noted that Israel's supremacy in the areas of science, economy, society, and politics is the source of its strength as well as the source of the Arabs' failure in confronting it.

Karam Al-Hilu. Source: Madardaily, May 15, 2017

The following are excerpts from his article:[1]

"A century after the Balfour Declaration... the Arabs have not managed to build a [a single] state that possesses knowledge, justice, and the economic, social, and human capability for confronting Zionism. One hundred years have been squandered, in all aspects; during them, the Arabs have been confronting Israel while their cultural infrastructure was in crisis – in the areas of knowledge, politics, economy, society, and thought. According to the 2014 [UN] report on knowledge in the Arab world [the Arab Knowledge Report], despite the 500 Arab universities, with an enrollment of nine million students and faculties of 220,000 lecturers, higher education in the Arab world is very meager in scientific research, in its failure to adapt to digital culture, and in its incompatibility with [universal] scientific and human culture. Outlay on scientific research is extremely negligible. Even in Egypt, the Arab country where the [cultural] awakening is the most deeply rooted, [only] 0.43% of the [gross] national product [is allocated to scientific research], versus 4.04% in South Korea and 3.39% in Japan. Therefore, scientists and research output are a rarity in the Arab world, and the research that is published [there] constitutes only 0.8% of the global average.  The number of patents registered to the Arabs in the past 50 years does not exceed [the number of those] registered by Malaysia alone.

"Not a single Arab university ranks among the 500 best in the world, while Israel supersedes the Arabs at an astronomical rate, in inventions and in hi-tech export. Israel has completely wiped out illiteracy [among its citizens], while among the Arabs, 23% remain illiterate.

"The Arabs have not, over the past century of conflict with Zionism, succeeded in building a [single] state of law and justice. The 2017 international transparency report showed that six of the 10 most corrupt countries in the world are Arab. Countries such as Egypt and Tunisia are ranked 108th in corruption, and Lebanon is 136th, while Israel takes 33rd place, which places it with the developed countries.[2]

"[The Arabs] have also not succeeded in building a 'nation,' a 'homeland,' or a 'society,' in the words of Constantin Zureiq,[3] for the tribal division still distances them from [achieving] pan-Arab unity. They also have not managed to establish a country [in which there is] economic justice; the class gaps [among the Arabs] are very great and unemployment, particularly among young people, tops out at 35.7% in Egypt, 32.1% in Iraq, and 45.3% in Mauritania.

"The Arabs' resistance against Israel must start with their reading of these numbers and these facts. Indeed, they have spared no blood, martyrdom, or [self-]sacrifice, but they have been negligent in the areas of science, economy, society, and politics that are the source of Israel's strength – just as they are the source of our failure in confronting it."


[1] Al-Hayat (London), November 25, 2017.

[2] A reference to's Corruption Perceptions Index 2016, published January 2017. The ranking of Egypt, Tunisia, and Lebanon given in the article are accurate, but Israel's is not – it is actually in 28th place.

[3] Syrian intellectual Constantin Zureiq was a pioneer in researching Arab nationalism.

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