And Curse Them That Curse Thee
By Jack Kinsella
Most of the inhabitants of the Arab world can trace their lineage back for centuries. To find someone who lives on land owned by his family for generations, and sometimes centuries, is not uncommon. Many live exactly the same way their ancestors did, often without indoor plumbing or electricity.
I was once a guest for coffee at a Bedouin camp in the Judean wilderness. The invitation was arranged by an Israeli tour guide. They lived in tents. We sat on a rug on the floor and drank strong, sweet coffee from heavily stained little glasses that were probably as old as our host’s parents.
The most prized possession — shared by the whole Bedouin clan — was a battery-operated 19″ black and white TV and a little generator just big enough to keep the battery charged.
Over coffee, they told us a bit about their lifestyle. They are desert nomads who regard themselves as stateless citizens and, TV set notwithstanding, still live in the 6th century. They do what their fathers did, and their fathers before them, from time immemorial.
I can recall thinking to myself as I listened, “Why?”
Arab culture is ancient; at one time, it was a seat of learning, with highly advanced schools of science, medicine, astronomy and mathematics. Arab doctors were performing sophisticated surgeries when French medicine believed that bathing was an unhealthy practice to be avoided at all costs.
When one takes the Arab world and contrasts it against the United States, it seems more logical for the Arab world hold preeminence than it does the USA.
By Arab standards, America is a young country, made up of immigrants from other countries, with no ethnic or cultural ties, and barely any history, to bind them together.
What went wrong with the Arab world? Why is it so far behind the West? It isn’t like the region is poor. They are awash with oil. Together with their equally rich cultural, religious and linguistic heritage, they should neither be poor nor facing ethnic conflict.
Yet they are both.
The ‘Arab world’ is loosely defined as the 22 member states of the Arab League. In 2002, the UN Development program commissioned a report entitled, ““Arab Human Development Report 2002” that examined the Arab World’s strengths and failings. The part dealing with Arab strengths didn’t take up much space.
It’s strengths were its oil wealth, a minor increase in life expectancy, and the largest proportion of young people in the world.
It scored lowest among the regions of the world in individual freedom, political freedom and what the UN calls, ‘gender empowerment’ or women’s rights. Democracy is occasionally offered, but as a concession, not as a right:
“The transfer of power through the ballot box is not a common phenomenon in the Arab world,” the report says politely.Freedom of expression and freedom of association are both sharply limited.
The report quotes Freedom House, an American-based monitor of political and civil rights, in recording that no Arab country has genuinely free media, and only three have “partly free”. The rest are not free.
Despite the money spent on education, illiteracy rates are still very high, especially among women. According to the report, one in two women can neither read nor write. Investment in research and development is less than one-seventh of the world average. Only 0.6% of the population uses the Internet, and 1.2% have personal computers.
The report comments sadly on the severe shortage of new writing, and, for instance, the decline in the film industry. Nor are foreign books much translated: in the 1,000 years since the reign of the Caliph Mamoun, say the authors, the Arabs have translated as many books as Spain translates in one year.
What went wrong with the Arab world? The short answer is Islam. Every one of the deficits listed by the UN’s report is mandated by Islamic belief.
Islam teaches that women should not be educated, given equal status with men, or allowed to work outside the home, effectively neutralizing half the Arab world’s potential. Their participation in their countries’ political and economic life is the lowest in the world.
Islam mandates the merging of the executive and judiciary under Islamic Law, which makes no allowance for representative government.
From their schooldays onwards, Arabs are instructed that they should not defy tradition, that they should respect authority, that truth should be sought in the text and not in experience. Fear of fawda (chaos) and fitna (schism) are deeply engrained in much Arab-Islamic teaching. “The role of thought”, wrote a Syrian intellectual “is to explain and transmit…and not to search and question.”
Since the root of the problem is so obviously Islam, the Arab Human Development report only outlined the deficits responsible for the Arab world’s stagnancy. It didn’t dare suggest a solution.
But it DID manage to find a way to blame Israel for some of the Arab’s world’s problems. And it even suggested the US response to September 11 has “provided authoritarian rulers with an excuse to get away with doing some pretty nasty things, particularly if done to Islamist dissidents,” although the report was compiled within months of the 2001 attack.
If one doubts the validity of Christianity over Islam, one need only look at conditions in the Islamic world. Where Islam is embraced, there is chaos, confusion, conflict and poverty. The wealth and prosperity are confined to the largely Christian West, despite the Islamic world’s strangle-hold on the global energy market.
Despite boycotts, a more or less constant state of war, with few allies and even fewer natural resources, Israel, situated in the midst of the Arab world, is a beacon of freedom, prosperity and technological genius.
The teachings of Islam, Judaism, Christianity and genetics all agree that the only difference between the Jewish and Arab Semitic people is that of religion. Islam traces its lineage through Ishmael, whereas Judaism traces its through Isaac, but both agree to shared ancestry with Abraham.
The Islamic world is dedicated to Israel’s destruction. And despite its abundant natural wealth and former sophisticated culture, it now ranks as the most backward-looking, ignorant, uncultured and despotic region on the face of the earth.
The fruits of Islam not only expose the nature of its god, they also serve to authenticate the Divinity of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Christian West has largely supported Israel since its re-establishment in 1948, and prospered in accordance with God’s Promise to Abraham’s descendant’s through Isaac that;
“I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)
That promise is as valid today as when it was given four thousand years ago. The evidence of its fulfillment is undeniable. What it means to us is that the rest of God’s promises are equally valid. Including His Promise;
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3)
This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on January 12, 2007.