Pakistani liberal writer: Israel really only fears Iran

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, a well-known Pakistani nuclear scientist and respected columnist and scholar known for his liberal views, recently wrote an article titled “Israel’s Secret Weapon”, stressing the importance of education in advancing human rights. nations while criticizing a range of conspiracy theories. against Israel which prevails in the Islamic world.[1]

In the article, Hoodbhoy said: “Conspiracy theorists have long imagined Israel as America’s invaded watchdog, beefed up and armed to protect American interests in the Middle East. But only a fool can believe that today. today.”

While dismissing plots against Israel and Jews, Hoodbhoy also pointed to Jewish religious orthodoxy as the root of declining educational standards among Israeli children, and that “similar ideological poisons continue to circulate in the bloodstream.” national “. [of Pakistan]. Until it is evacuated, Pakistan’s intellectual and material decline will accelerate.”


Pervez Hoodbhoy (image courtesy of Dawn.com)

Here are excerpts from the article:

“One of my scientific heroes, Richard Feynman, was rejected in 1935 by Columbia University because he was Jewish; fortunately MIT accepted him”

“[…] European Jews fleeing Hitler were far less welcome than Muslims in America today. That the Jewish refugees posed a serious threat to national security was argued by government officials from the State Department to the FBI as well as by President Franklin Roosevelt himself. One of my scientific heroes, Richard Feynman, was rejected in 1935 by Columbia University because he was Jewish. Fortunately, MIT accepted it.

“What turned foreigners into insiders was a secret weapon. That weapon was brain power. Considered the main natural resource by Jews inside and outside Israel, it is an obsession for parents who, spoon by spoon, zealously impart knowledge to their children. The state also knows its responsibility: Israel has more museums and libraries per capita than any other country. Children born to Ashkenazi parents are considered the main assets of the state who will start a business, discover an important scientific truth, invent a gadget, create a work of art, or write a book. Intellectual power makes tiny Israel a technological giant in front of which every Arab country must bow.

“In secular Israel, a student’s verbal, mathematical, and scientific aptitude determines his or her chances of success. In the 10th grade of secular school patter system, the smartest students will learn calculus and differential equations as well as probability, trigonometry and theorem proving. Looking at some past exam papers available on the internet, I wondered how Pakistani university professors with PhDs would fare in Israel’s level 5 school exams. Would our national science heroes pass a pass? Not surprisingly, by the time they reach college, Israeli students have outperformed their American counterparts academically.

“There is a definite historical context to the search for this excellence. For thousands of years, European anti-Semitism made it impossible for Jews to own land or farms, forcing them to seek sustenance in the commerce, finance, medicine, science and mathematics. To compete, parents actively trained their children in these skills. In the 1880s, the founders of Zionism placed their faith firmly in education born of secular thought of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

“Ironically, Jewish identity created Israel, but Jewish orthodoxy spearheads Israel’s decline”

“But if this is the story of secular Israel, there is also a different Israel with a different story. Haredi ultra-Orthodox Jews were once a tiny minority in Israel’s predominantly secular society. But their rate of high birth rate pushed them to around age 10. Recognizable by their distinctive attire and mannerisms, the Haredis are literally those who “tremble before God.”

“For the Haredis, secularism and secular education are anathema. Like Pakistan, Israel also has a unique national curriculum with a significant portion aimed at nation-building (read, indoctrination). In the Israeli context, the ideological part seeks to justify the dispossession of the Palestinian population As might be expected, the system of “Jewish madrassas” accepts this part but rejects the secular part, that is, the one designed to create the modern spirit .

“The difference in achievement levels between mainstream and haredi schools is widening. While all schools teach Hebrew (the sacred language), secular schools emphasize English proficiency while ‘ madrassas’ emphasize Hebrew According to an article in the Jerusalem Post, Haredi schools (as well as Arab-Israeli schools) have poor learning outcomes with learning outcomes lower than nine out of 10 countries Muslims who took part in the latest PISA exam.A report says that 50% of Israeli students receive a “Third World education”.

“The decline in general standards is causing the smartest Israelis to lose sleep. They fear that, as happened in Beirut, over time a less fertile and more educated elite sector of society will be invaded. By a more fertile and less educated religious population.This happens, Israel will lose its historical advantage.Ironically, Jewish identity created Israel, but Jewish orthodoxy spearheaded Israel’s decline.

“Despite stifling embargoes, Iran continues to succeed in nuclear, space, heavy engineering, biotechnology and theoretical sciences; Israel trembles”

“There is only one Muslim country that Israel really fears – Iran. Although its oil resources are modest, its human resources are considerable.

“The 1979 revolution diminished the quality of Iranian education and scared away many of Iran’s best teachers. But unlike the Afghan mullahs, the Iranian mullahs were smart enough to keep education going. , science and religion are generally allowed in. Therefore, despite suffocating embargoes, Iran continues to be successful in nuclear, space, heavy engineering, biotechnology and theoretical sciences.Israel trembles.

“Boosted by their bitter animosity towards Iran, Arab countries have apparently understood the need of the times and are slowly turning around. Starting this year, religious ideology has been reduced and new subjects are being introduced in Saudi schools. , English for elementary grades, social studies, self-defense and critical thinking. Of course, a change of program is meaningless if it is not accompanied by a change of perspective. Still, it looks like a start.

“Israel has shown the effectiveness of its secret weapon; it also exposed the vulnerability of opponents who don’t have it. There are lessons here for Pakistan and a good reason to wrest control from the Jamaat-e-Islami ideologues who, from the time of [former Pakistani dictator] Ziaul Haq, strangled and suffocated our education. The heights were reached under Imran Khan’s unique national program which harnessed ordinary schools to madrassas. But even with Khan gone, ideological poisons continue to circulate in the national blood. Until it is evacuated, Pakistan’s intellectual and material decline will accelerate.”


[1] Dawn.com/news/1697781/israels-secret-weapon, July 2, 2022. The original English article has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.