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Spengler

Talented Muslims and Israeli Settlers

August 28th, 2011 - 4:45 pm

Some respondents to my post on Fr. Schall question my comment that there are plenty of talented Muslims who would contribute to America as immigrants. Maybe they’re posting from bunkers in northern Idaho. It’s hard to work in any quantitative field without encountering large numbers of extremely smart and well educated Muslims. I hired plenty of them when I ran research groups on Wall Street.

I urge these posters to visit Israel and tour the settlements. No-one is more convinced of the talents of Arabs (not to mention Turks, Pakistanis and others) than my Israeli friends. Especially the settlers in Judea and Samaria. I wrote some weeks ago (under the title “Israel, Ireland and the Peace of the Aging”):

 5,800 Palestinians are working at technology companies on the West Bank, and the booming Israeli software sector is outsourcing to the West Bank, with a third of Palestinian software companies filling orders for Israeli firms, Bloomberg News reported March 15.

And the top school for Palestinian computer science students is Ariel University in Samaria, in the midst of a settlement near Nablus. “Administrators at the Ariel University Center are proud to have the Arab students, saying their enrollment is an example of loyalty and equality among Israeli citizens. For their part, the Arab students seem not to feel uncomfortable attending the college despite its reputation and location,” wrote the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“On campus the fact that we are in occupied territory is irrelevant – it doesn’t affect us at all. We leave all the politics outside,” the Chronicle quoted Manar Dewany, a 20-year-old student in math and computer science who commutes each day from the Israeli Arab town of Taybeh. “I never even considered it a reason for not coming here,” Ms Dewany added. “I have no problem with it. Why not come here? This place is full of Arabs.”

No one outsources computer technology to Egypt, where very few of each year’s crop of 700,000 college graduates meets world standards. The education that young Arabs receive at the settlers’ university on the West Bank is better than anything available among Israel’s Arab neighbors. In a quiet way, the settlers of Samaria may do more for peace than the diplomats.

In May 2010 I gave a speech at a conference at Ariel sponsored by my friend Richard Landes. It was the first time I had visited the “settler’s university.” The first thing I noticed was that there were girls with headscarves everywhere. The Samaria settlers work with local Palestinian officials to recruit talented Arab kids and bring them to Ariel. And that’s outreach, not affirmative action. The Arab kids are smart and work hard. Something similar, by the way, is going on at Israel’s music conservatories.

The  settlers of Samaria are doing the right thing. And they live directly under Muslim guns. America is founded on the principle of the sanctity of the individual, which comes from the Torah that the settlers observe. As individuals Muslim are owed the same rights and respect as the rest of us.

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