Mar 6, 2007

The Arab knowledge gap

Joshua Muravchik visits Saudi Arabia.
Many of the Saudis whom I am meeting are sophisticated and friendly to America, albeit critical of current policies. But here, as elsewhere in the region, even smart people are capable of believing far-fetched things and often seem deficient in the skills of reality-testing.

On my first day, an accomplished editor, publisher, and newspaper columnist complained to me that the United States had just doubled aid to Israel. I had been without news sources for a couple of days in travel, but this seemed unlikely to me, as I tried to explain. My interlocutor insisted: he had followed the reports carefully. When I got access to the Internet, I found the story. The State Department had begun formal conversations with Israel about Israel’s request for an increase in military aid of 2 to 2.5 percent.

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