As a Middle East Arab, I consider Israel the only truly democratic and scientific state in the region, and I want to express my deep admiration for the Jewish state’s incredible achievements.

By Rami Dabbas

Israeli universities and research centers have for years led the world in their respective fields. Take for example the development of military technology. Israel has produced robotic devices and vehicles that now enable it to engage in espionage and carry out attacks on enemies without risking the lives of its soldiers. It has also fielded defensive innovations like the Iron Dome, capable even of intercepting mortar shells.

Then, of course, there’s the medical field, where Israel has again contributed to, among other things, advanced robotic surgical devices. One of my colleagues who is a neurosurgeon by profession has witnessed these devices in action during courses on performing spinal surgery held in Germany.

There are many more examples, but all this is to highlight the fact that this tiny nation of Israel has produced breakthroughs and innovations now in use by the world’s top nations. How did it manage to do so, and why are none of its Arab neighbors on equal footing in this regard?

Already decades before the rebirth of Israel as a nation state, the Jewish leadership determined that education and science should be the foundation of any national enterprise, and thus established the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in 1912. Arab leaders, by contrast, insisted that the state comes first, and did so to the extent of ignoring and suppressing their own intellectuals, who posed a threat to the public ignorance required to maintain a dictatorship. As such, almost no public funds were spent on scientific research, but instead were poured into the military and religious institutions to ensure the people remained brainwashed and submissive.

This led to tyrannical dynasties, some of which we see collapsing today in bloody civil wars. But even in the “best” of cases, like Saudi Arabia, the people remain shackled to backwards populist ideologies and religious doctrines that keep their nation by and large lagging behind the rest of the world.

Back to Israel, the Technion was not the first Jewish university established long before the Jews were even certain they’d regain their ancient homeland. Many other schools and research centers were established, and the Jewish leadership made great efforts to attract many of the world’s top scientists to the Land. For instance, shortly after the rebirth of the State of Israel, the position of state president was offered to Albert Einstein.

Israel was one of the first five countries in the world to develop a strong hi-tech computer industry starting back in the 1950s and one of the leaders in the field of aviation. Late Israel President Shimon Peres once noted that his colleagues laughed at him when he proposed the establishment of an Israeli aviation industry. But like many of Israel’s early leaders, Peres was a visionary, and Israel did indeed go on to become a world leader in the field.

From the outside looking in (as an Arab observing Israel), it’s notable that Israel’s scientific and technological advancements occur mostly outside the religious sphere, meaning they are not directed by the religious leadership. This is not to say Israel is not a religious state (even if more than half its population identifies as “secular”), and there are many minority religions, all protected by law. The result is a nation that has managed to lead the region and the world in science, technology, industry, agriculture and culture.

‘A Dire Situation’

It’s not that we Arabs have no scientists. In fact, we have millions, but they primarily work for the preservation of a backwards, racist and hateful heritage under the heavy hand of religious overlords. This is not useful to anyone, and certainly contributes nothing to the rest of the world. Clinging to the provincial theories and ideologies of the past is anathema to progress and advancement. The situation has become so dire that while Israelis are conquering some of mankind’s most urgent medical crises, those who call themselves Arab “scientists” are debating the benefits of camel urine. And then they wonder why we are so underdeveloped.

As a Middle East Arab, I consider Israel the only truly democratic and scientific state in the region, and I want to express my deep admiration for the Jewish state’s incredible achievements.

This article is originally published in ‘Israel Today’ Magazine.

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Article by Rami Dabbas

Rami Dabbas is a Jordanian civil engineer by profession, an activist and a writer. He was born in 1989 in the City of Astana during the Soviet era to a Jordanian father and a Russian mother. Dabbas is interested in promoting peace in the world in general and in the Middle East specifically.