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2006 March 09 Thursday
Israeli Arabs Turning Toward Political Islam

The Bush Administration advocates the spread of democracy in the Middle East as a way to reduce the threat of terrorism. Yet the political Islam tide continues to rise wherever democracy is present in the Middle East.

With national elections less than a month away, parties that represent Israel's Arab population are struggling to maintain their small foothold in the Israeli parliament. As the parties grapple with new legal barriers, fresh competition and a frustrated constituency, at least one coalition is drawing a lesson from Hamas's recent victory in the Palestinian territories: The solution is Islam.

The United Arab List has adopted an explicitly Islamic message in the hopes of inspiring thousands of Arab voters who have boycotted past elections. Using Koranic verse and showcasing religious candidates, Sarsur's party, called the Islamic Movement, and its secular-nationalist partner are seeking to unite Israel's religious Islamic parties, who like their more radical Palestinian counterparts have long disagreed over whether to take part in elections that, in effect, presume the legitimacy of the Jewish state.

Socialist Arab nationalism was the last supposed solution. How long will Islam remain the favored solution? I figure it'll last until genetic engineering allows rising IQ and then rising living standards. (more here) Higher IQs will simultaneously solve the economic problems of Arab countries while also making Muslims smart enough to look more critically at their religion.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 March 09 08:32 PM  MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis


Comments
arch said at March 10, 2006 1:50 AM:

"Socialist Arab nationalism was the last supposed solution. How long will Islam remain the favored solution? I figure it'll last until genetic engineering allows rising IQ and then rising living standards. (more here) Higher IQs will simultaneously solve the economic problems of Arab countries while also making Muslims smart enough to look more critically at their religion."

Socialist Arab nationalism was not as secular as most people think. It was really just a watered down version of Islamism. The advantage of Arab Socialism was that it allowed disenfranchised Arabs (Alawites in Syria, Sunnis in Iraq, and Christians in various places) a place in government when such opportunities were not as available before. Arab Socialists did restrict the power of some of the more radical groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, that much is true, but unlike Ataturk it did not go as far as to restrict the power of Islam within society. The Arab Socialists did not introduce any reforms that were on par with Ataturk or Bourguiba.

Higher IQ would certainly make the situation in the Middle East more tolerable for the Arabs but it would have to compete with a lot of cultural factors in order to actually transform their economies into modern ones. The biggest obstacle to overcome is the power of Islam within society and that is why I am skeptical that a rise in IQ will lead to a rise in apostasy. That is what they need. Non-observance is not enough because there is a chance that they may relapse into Islam and also as long as they identify with Islam and Muslim culture then they will exhibit the same pathologies that are particular to Arabic Islam (fatalism, conspiracy mongering, a distrust of any reading material that is not Islamic, hatred of infidels, emotional outbursts, etc). We also have to consider the prevalence of consanguous marriages in Arab society and how culturally ingrained the phenomenon really is. Tribalism is another important factor. Of course not every Muslim country is the same and some are more successful than others at adapting to the modern age (Malaysia and Indonesia come to mind) but I think it's an entirely different matter with Arab Muslims (and to a certain extent even Arab Christians). If they do manage to raise their IQs, we should not expect a secularist enlightment in the Arab world because it seems unlikely to happen. Also, I don't know if anyone has looked into it but could it be possible that being raised Muslim (observant) could actually LOWER your IQ? It would be worth looking into.

rollo said at March 11, 2006 2:42 PM:

I would think thats its pretty obvious that being a Muslim and having a low IQ are highly statistically correlated.

arch said at March 11, 2006 6:49 PM:

Yes, I agree rollo but I'm trying to think of some of the countries that recently (relatively speaking) turned Muslim like Indonesia and Malaysia. Both are smarter than your average Muslims in the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. I wonder if that has anything to do with the amount of time Islam took to set in in its respective country. Of course it may not be true across the board but I'm wondering if it is true in these two cases.

Jason said at March 19, 2006 2:00 PM:

"I would think thats its pretty obvious that being a Muslim and having a low IQ are highly statistically correlated."

LOL. What an academic genius you are. Not.


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