A Saudi Arabian editor wonders: Israel provides scientific and technological advances to world powers such as India, what do Arabs have to offer?
Following the recent successful and historic visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel, who opted not to visit the Palestinian Authority (PA), Ghassan Charbel, editor of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, published an article about the economic and cultural gaps between the West and the Arab world. Charbel contrasted Israel’s successes in science and technology with the weaknesses of its Arab neighbors, as reflected in Modi’s Israel visit.
Charbel noted that the West pays close attention to issues such as human rights, protection of the environment, and public health, while the Arab world neglects them, which is why Arabs feel envious of the West.
As for Israel, Charbel identified the scientific and technological capabilities it has to offer to world powers such as India, contrasting Israel’s contributions with those of its neighbors, which are mired in Islamic extremism and internal wars.
Charbel noted that in the past, India was the first country to support the Palestinians in every way, while today its Prime Minister, upon visiting the region, ignored them completely. According to Charbel, this causes Arabs to feel not only envious but completely defeated.
“The Arab feels envy when he comes into contact with the developed world,” Charbel wrote, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
“Envy is neither a useful nor a noble emotion and it usually opens the gates of bitterness and hatred, [yet] it is not unusual for an Arab to suffer from this malady [of envy]. If an Arab visits a museum in a developed country he immediately thinks about what happened to the antiquities in Iraq and in Syria… If he notices the attention paid in Oslo to public health he remembers where the sewage flows in some Arab capital or another.
“Trying to minimize his disappointment, the Arab sometimes searches for excuses for the yawning chasm between him and the developed world. We are in a completely different historical phase.
“The Arab feels envy again, [because] the Europeans experienced wars between nationalities and sects, border disputes and plans for conquering and wiping out [the other]. They painted the continent and the whole world with blood – but they emerged in the end with conclusions. Europe has changed for the good, and the visiting Arab is consumed with envy.
“The Arab notes that [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled all his plans so he could graciously receive his guest, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This was the first visit by an Indian prime minister to Israel.
“Another thing that attracted attention was that the guest felt no need to visit Ramallah, which gladdened his hosts. We are talking about India, which was the first to express understanding for the aspirations of the Palestinians and did not hesitate to stand alongside them in international forums.”
Israel Has Something to Offer – And the Arabs?
“Modi evidently sees Israel as a technological lighthouse, and spoke about the need for his gigantic country to benefit from Israel’s capabilities in this sphere. The result was that Modi and Netanyahu signed an agreement worth $2 billion, according to which India will receive the Israeli Iron Dome System to [detect and intercept] rockets and artillery. In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed to establish an India-Israel Industrial R&D and Innovation Fund. Other agreements included areas such as water, agricultural development in India, and partnership in economic projects in Africa and the developing world.
“It is not enough to explain what happened by saying that Modi belongs to an extremist nationalist Hindu stream and that ‘jihadist’ terrorism increased his conviction that ties with Israel should be strengthened.
“The important point is that a country the size of Israel has something to offer the Indian army; that it also has something to offer [in the spheres of] agricultural development and treatment of water problems, and [can maintain] a strategic military, security, and economic relationship with a country of the size and stature of India.
“The Arab was disturbed by the arrogance of Netanyahu’s speeches during Modi’s visit, but when he opened the map of the terrifying Middle East, he discovered that Israel had achieved a series of victories in recent years without firing a single bullet. Maps, countries, armies and economies around it have crumbled. Waves of extremism caused catastrophes in some parts of the Arab world compared to which the Palestinian Nakba is but one cause among many.
“This time the Arab felt not only envy, but felt the total defeat of the one who cannot join the [modern] era,” Charbel concluded.
By: United with Israel Staff
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