Liberal Pakistani Writer And Nuclear Scientist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy: ‘European Jews Fleeing Hitler Were Far Less Welcome Than Muslims Are In Today’s…

Posted By on July 10, 2022

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, a noted Pakistani nuclear scientist and respected columnist and academic known for his liberal views, recently wrote an article, titled "Israel's Secret Weapon," stressing the importance of education in the advancement of nations while criticizing a range of conspiracy theories against Israel prevailing in the Islamic world.[1]

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

While rejecting conspiracies against Israel and Jews, Hoodbhoy also stressed that the Jewish religious orthodoxy was behind declining academic standards among Israeli children, and somewhat similar "ideological poisons continue to circulate in the national bloodstream [of Pakistan]. Until flushed away, Pakistan's intellectual and material decline will accelerate."

Pervez Hoodbhoy (image courtesy:

Following are excerpts from the article:

"One Of My Scientific Heroes, Richard Feynman, Was Rejected In 1935 By Columbia University For Being Jewish; Fortunately, MIT Accepted Him"

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

"What changed outsiders into insiders was a secret weapon. That weapon was brain power. Regarded as the primary natural resource by Jews inside and outside Israel it is an obsession for parents who, spoon by spoon, zealously ladle knowledge into their children. The state too knows its responsibility: Israel has more museums and libraries per capita than any other country. Children born to Ashkenazi parents are assumed as prime state assets who will start a business, discover some important scientific truth, invent some gadget, create a work of art, or write a book. Brain power makes teeny-tiny Israel a technological giant before which every Arab country must bow.

"In secular Israel, a student's verbal, mathematical, and scientific aptitude sets his chances of success. By the 10th grade of the secular bagut system, smarter students will be learning calculus and differential equations together with 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 Israeli level-5 school exams. Would our national scientific heroes manage a pass? Unsurprisingly, by the time they reach university, Israeli students have bettered their American counterparts academically.

"There is a definite historical context to seeking this excellence. For thousands of years, European Antisemitism made it impossible for Jews to own land or farms, forcing them to seek livelihoods in trading, finance, medicine, science, and mathematics. To compete, parents actively tutored their children in these skills. In the 1880s, Zionism's founders placed their faith solidly in education born out of secular Renaissance and Enlightenment thought."

"Ironically, Jewish Identity Created Israel, But Jewish Orthodoxy Is Spearheading Israel's Decline"

"But if this is the story of secular Israel, there is also a different Israel with a different story. Ultra-orthodox Haredi Jews were once a tiny minority in Israel's mostly secular society. But their high birth rate has made them grow to about 10 percent of the population. Recognizable by their distinctive dress and manners, the Haredis are literally those who 'tremble before God.'

"For Haredis, secularism and secular education are anathema. Like Pakistan, Israel too has a single national curriculum with a hefty chunk earmarked for nation-building (read, indoctrination). In the Israeli context, the ideological part seeks to justify dispossession of the Palestinian population. Expectedly, the 'Jewish madrassa' system accepts this part but rejects the secular part i.e., that designed to create the modern mind.

"The difference in achievement levels between regular and Haredi schools is widening. While all schools teach Hebrew (the holy language), secular schools stress mastery over English while 'madrassas' emphasize Hebrew. According to a Jerusalem Post article, Haredi schools (as well as Arab-Israeli schools) are poor performers with learning outcomes beneath nine of the 10 Muslim countries that participated in the most recent PISA exam. A report says 50pc of Israel's students are getting a 'third-world education.'

"The drop in overall standards is causing smarter Israelis to lose sleep. They fear that, as happened in Beirut, over time a less fertile, more educated elite sector of society will be overrun by a more fertile, less-educated religious population. When that happens, Israel will lose its historical advantage. Ironically, Jewish identity created Israel, but Jewish orthodoxy is spearheading Israel's decline."

"In Spite Of Suffocating Embargos, Iran Continues To Achieve In Nuclear, Space, Heavy Engineering, Biotechnology, And The Theoretical Sciences; Israel Trembles"

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

"The Revolution of 1979 diminished the quality of Iranian education and caused many of Iran's best professors to flee. But unlike Afghanistan's mullahs, the mullahs of Iran were smart enough to keep education going. Although coexistence is uncomfortable, science and religion are mostly allowed to go their own separate ways. Therefore, in spite of suffocating embargos, Iran continues to achieve in nuclear, space, heavy engineering, biotechnology, and the theoretical sciences. Israel trembles.

"Spurred by their bitter animosity toward Iran, Arab countries have apparently understood the need of the times and are slowly turning around. Starting this year, religious ideology has been de-emphasized and new subjects are being introduced in Saudi schools. These include digital skills, English for elementary grades, social studies, self-defense, and critical thinking. Of course, a change of curriculum means little unless accompanied by a change of outlook. Still, it does look like a beginning.

"Israel has shown the effectiveness of its secret weapon; it has also exposed the vulnerability of opponents who don't have it. There are lessons here for Pakistan and a strong reason to wrest control away from Jamaat-e-Islami ideologues that, from the time of [former Pakistani dictator] Ziaul Haq onward, have throttled and suffocated our education. The heights were reached under Imran Khan's Single National Curriculum which yoked ordinary schools to madrassas. But even with Khan's departure, ideological poisons continue to circulate in the national bloodstream. Until flushed away, Pakistan's intellectual and material decline will accelerate."

[1], July 2, 2022. The original English of the article has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.

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Liberal Pakistani Writer And Nuclear Scientist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy: 'European Jews Fleeing Hitler Were Far Less Welcome Than Muslims Are In Today's...

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