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      Op-Ed: Apostasy in Saudi Arabia is Detrimental to Your Health

      Published: Sunday, December 29, 2013 9:58 PM
      Imagine If an Israeli blogger was facing the death penalty for blogging?



      When it comes to Israel, the gloves are off – for all others it’s a different set of norms.
      While Israel is surrounded by “militants” (read "terrorists"), Saudi Arabia is largely perceived as a fairly modern, pro-Western nation amongst the Arab nations in the region.  The Saudis recently bought $50 billion in arms from U.S. weapons manufacturers, and invest their funds in the West. 

      They care about their image, as the Saudi government spent over $100 million from 2000 to 2010 on lobbying and PR companies.  They currently employ Edelman, the largest PR firm in the world, to “promote the Kingdom’s interests among key groups within the world body and to U.N. observers.”

      Yet, despite the noise and propaganda, the country of Israel is the only one in the Middle East that is a true democracy, allows free practice of religion and can be deemed a free political society.  While Israel is regularly maligned, and subject to a double standard, the behavior of its neighbors isn’t measured against Israel’s right to exist and survive.

      Consider this week’s occurrence where a Saudi judge recommended that imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi go before a high court on a charge of apostasy, a crime which can result in the death penalty sentence.  Badawi, who has been in prison since June 2012, had been sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes.

      He “insulted” Islam through his Free Saudi Liberals website, called for a constitutional monarchy, and for democratic reform in the nation.  The judge made mention of one of Badawi's crimes, which consisted of writing about Valentine’s Day, a prohibited holiday in Saudi Arabia.

      And there is silence – no liberals inside Saudi Arabia screaming and yelling.  Imagine the (rightful) uproar if such a thing happened in the State of Israel? Except, of course, that it couldn't.

      And from America, the United Nations and all of the others so concerned about the Middle East when it comes to Israel, there’s silence. While Israel continues to get pressured, in the region, there’s the fallacy of a nuclear deal with Iran, continued bloody civil wars in Egypt & Syria, and the ever-present anti-American attitude permeating the region.

      When it comes to Israel, the gloves are off – for all others it’s a different set of norms.

      In the tough neighborhood of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is considered a Western ally. Yet, Saudi Arabia doesn’t recognize the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Saudi courts allow beheading and stoning, and Saudi Arabian women are required to have a male guardian when they leave the house and need their guardian’s permission for marriage and divorce, travel - if under 45 - and for education; employment and opening a bank account. They are also not permitted to drive or vote.

      Once again, this is proof positive that Israel needs to consider her own safety when making decisions.  Clearly, the Saudis and other Arab nations get away with a different rulebook.