ISRAELI FRONTLINE is non-profit.
This weblog is rewarded for each click, so please visit our advertisers to see what they are offering, with no obligation. Thank you!
All opinions expressed on this weblog are those of the author, with the exception of opinions expressed in links that appear on this site and with the exception of comments written by viewers whose opinions may not necessarily reflect the author's. All original material is copyrighted and property of the author, and is not to be used without permission, unless it is attributed to this weblog (with a hyperlink to, or to the particular article shown in this weblog). All emails and messages containing public news and information are presumed to be for publication on this site, unless otherwise specified. I reserve the right to delete comments that I find to be offensive in nature, inappropriate or irrelevant to the content of this weblog. Michelle Cohen, Creator of ISRAELI FRONTLINE---------------------------------------------------------------- © 2010 - 2016 ISRAELI FRONTLINE - All Rights Reserved.
Today's Top Headlines, Videos, Analysis and Opinion / / HOME PAGE

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Scottish Professor Responds to "Boycott Israel" on Campus

This is especially interesting in that it is testimony from a non-Jewish and apparently secular expert on Mideast affairs.

The Edinburgh Student's Association made a motion to boycott all things Israeli since they claim Israel is under an apartheid regime.  Dr. Denis MacEoin (a non-Jew) is an expert in Middle Eastern affairs.  

Here is his letter to those students.


Denis MacEoin, a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly, addresses  
 The Committee
 Edinburgh University Student Association

Received by e-mail from the author, Denis MacEoin, a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly,

The Committee Edinburgh University Student Association

May I be permitted to say a few words to members of the EUSA? I am an Edinburgh graduate (MA 1975) who studied Persian, Arabic and Islamic History in Buccleuch Place under William Montgomery Watt and Laurence Elwell Sutton, two of Britain's great Middle East experts in their day. I later went on to do a PhD at Cambridge and to teach Arabic and Islamic Studies at Newcastle University. Naturally, I am the author of several books and hundreds of articles in this field.

I say all that to show that I am well informed in Middle Eastern affairs and that, for that reason, I am shocked and disheartened by the EUSA motion and vote. I am shocked for a simple reason: there is not and has never been a system of apartheid in Israel. That is not my opinion, that is fact that can be tested against reality by any Edinburgh student, should he or she choose to visit Israel to see for themselves.

Let me spell this out, since I have the impression that those member of EUSA who voted for this motion are absolutely clueless in matters concerning Israel, and that they are, in all likelihood, the victims of extremely biased propaganda coming from the anti-Israel lobby. Being anti-Israel is not in itself objectionable. But I'm not talking about ordinary criticism of Israel. I'm speaking of a hatred that permits itself no boundaries in the lies and myths it pours out. Thus, Israel is repeatedly referred to as a "Nazi" state. In what sense is this true, even as a metaphor? Where are the Israeli concentration camps? The einzatsgruppen? The SS? The Nuremberg Laws? The Final Solution? None of these things nor anything remotely resembling them exists in Israel, precisely because the Jews more than anyone on earth, understand what Nazism stood for. It is claimed that there has been an Israeli Holocaust in Gaza (or elsewhere). Where? When? No honest historian would treat that claim with anything but the contempt it deserves. But calling Jews 'Nazis' and saying they have committed a Holocaust is as basic a way to subvert historical fact as anything I can think of.

Muslims and Jews walking in Jerusalem
Likewise apartheid. For apartheid to exist, there would have to be a situation that closely resembled things in South Africa under the apartheid regime. Unfortunately for those who believe this, a weekend in any part of Israel would be enough to show how ridiculous the claim is. That a body of university students actually fell for this and voted on it is a sad comment on the state of modern education. The most obvious focus for apartheid would be the country's 20% Arab population. Under Israeli law, Arab Israelis have exactly the same rights as Jews or anyone else; Muslims have the same rights as Jews or Christians; Baha'is, severely persecuted in Iran, flourish in Israel, where they have their world centre; Ahmadi Muslims, severely persecuted in Pakistan and elsewhere, are kept safe by Israel; the holy places of all religions are protected under a specific Israeli law. Arabs form 20% of the university population (an exact echo of their percentage in the general population). In Iran, the Baha'is (the largest religious minority) are forbidden to study in any university or to run their own universities: why aren't your members boycotting Iran?

Arabs in Israel can go anywhere they want, unlike blacks in apartheid South Africa. They use public transport, they eat in restaurants, they go to swimming pools, they use libraries, they go to cinemas alongside Jews--something no blacks could do in South Africa. Israeli hospitals not only treat Jews and Arabs, they also treat Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank. On the same wards, in the same operating theatres.

In Israel, women have the same rights as men: there is no gender apartheid. Gay men and women face no restrictions, and Palestinian gays often escape into Israel, knowing they may be killed at home. It seems bizarre to me that LGBT groups call for a boycott of Israel and say nothing about countries like Iran, where gay men are hanged or stoned to death. That illustrates a mindset that beggars belief. Intelligent students thinking it's better to be silent about regimes that kill gay people, but good to condemn the only country in the Middle East that rescue and protect gay people. 
Is that supposed to be a sick joke?

University is supposed to be about learning to use your brain, to think rationally, to examine evidence, to reach conclusions based on solid evidence, to compare sources, to weigh up one view against one or more others. If the best Edinburgh can now produce are students who have no idea how to do any of these things, then the future is bleak. I do not object to well documented criticism of Israel. I do object when supposedly intelligent people single the Jewish state out above states that are horrific in their treatment of their populations. We are going through the biggest upheaval in the Middle East since the 7th and 8th centuries, and it's clear that Arabs and Iranians are rebelling against terrifying regimes that fight back by killing their own citizens. Israel citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, do not rebel (though they are free to protest). Yet Edinburgh students mount no demonstrations and call for no boycotts against Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran. They prefer to make false accusations against one of the world's freest countries, the only country in the Middle East that has taken in Darfur refugees, the only country in the Middle East that gives refuge to gay men and women, the only country in the Middle East that protects the Baha'is.... Need I go on? The imbalance is perceptible, and it sheds no credit on anyone who voted for this boycott.

I ask you to show some common sense. Get information from the Israeli embassy. Ask for some speakers. Listen to more than one side. Do not make your minds up until you have given a fair hearing to both parties. You have a duty to your students, and that is to protect them from one-sided argument. They are not at university to be propagandized. And they are certainly not there to be tricked into anti-Semitism by punishing one country among all the countries of the world, which happens to be the only Jewish state. If there had been a single Jewish state in the 1930s (which, sadly, there was not), don't you think Adolf Hitler would have decided to boycott it? Of course he would, and he would not have stopped there. Your generation has a duty to ensure that the perennial racism of anti-Semitism never sets down roots among you. Today, however, there are clear signs that it has done so and is putting down more. You have a chance to avert a very great evil, simply by using reason and a sense of fair play. Please tell me that this makes sense. I have given you some of the evidence. It's up to you to find out more.

 Yours sincerely,
 Dr. Denis MacEoin


  1. As Dr. Denis MacEoin implies, I too thought University students would have had enough initiative to think for themselves and not be bulldozed into brainwashed heresay. Heaven help us all if they can't even see the truth from hypocrisy! Surely at least before making any decision one looks at the full facts first! Obviously not in this case.

    Susanne James
    (Evgeny Kissin : United We Stand for Israel)

  2. I commend the Dr.for his thorough letter and clear explanation of Arab and Muslim life in Israel. After what Europe already did to the Jews, I would think that they of all people would have the decency to protect Israels interests. Additionally, as the only democracy in the Middle East and only reliable ally, Israel is the only country that provides intelligence on possible muslim plots. How do they have the lack of conscience to do everything they can to make things worse and spread absolute lies regarding life in Israel.

  3. Is Dr. Denis MacEoin the only sane person left in the British isles?

  4. An appeal to rationality?
    He misapprehends his opposition, who believe that power is obtained through threats and lies, not rational discourse.

  5. I've been at one of these 'democratic votes' many years ago and it was obviously stage managed to get the results they wanted. Doubt if it has changed much nowadays.
    I can't say that Israel is perfect; it was pretty nasty when it was first formed. Seems to be fairly restrained nowadays for a country surrounded by a blood-thirsty mob,

  6. Here my Dutch translation:

  7. Spot on and well written :)))))

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Thank you Michelle for posting this. All your work is much needed. These so called university students really surprise me with their ignorance of the history and of the current situation. Really think a lot of it is because of the huge muslim immigration into Europe. But alas we now see some of this brewing in American universities. G-D forbid it should ever become like what's happening in Europe, or should I say Eurabia. Sincerely Cry4Dance

  10. The professor's comments make complete sense. Unfortunately, the UK is a hotbed of anti-Israel activity, which means his comments are likely to get lost amidst the left-wing, pro-Palestinian rhetoric on British campuses. It still surprises me that supposedly intelligent people fall for the apartheid/racist myth. They don't seem to realise that boycotting Jewish shops and institutions, and demonising the Jewish state, is a regurgitation of what happened in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.

    1. Who is boycotting Jewish shops and institutions? That is not what happening; these people are solely boycotting produce from Israel on the basis they don't want to fund its government. They are not demonising Jews in their show of support for Palestine, and it is incredibly counter-constructive for you to illustrate perfectly justified concerns as solely anti-Semitic. Didn't you know there are plenty of Jewish people who vocally criticise Israel, and in particular its response to the problem with Gaza and Palestine? Israel does not represent Jews. It is just as ignorant to say objecting to Israel is anti-Semitic as saying Israel is an apartheid state.

  11. When Israel left Gaza, the farms and green houses were left with their crops. The Palestinians destroyed both. Now, the Palestinians want to grow their own crops so Israeli farmers are helping them with this as well as the subsidies from the Israeli goevernment to help them. The crops are then exported and sold, on behalf of the Palestinians, by Israel. By boycotting produce they are probably as likely to be boycotting Palestinian foods as Israeli. It is not just the students who need to study what is happening in the Middle East. The sheer bigotry and ignorance I see on a regular basis is alarming.

  12. Seems to me your professors aren't doing their jobs. Or, the students are, in fact, rational thinkers yet prefer the fog of propaganda??? The' logic' used by propagandists can be compelling, especially when cloaked to attract the youth. But, which is more likely? Lax professors or the power of dissent? Propaganda gives an 'easier' path to tread from what I have observed, even for rational thinkers, who are just as susceptible to lies as are the common people. The German peoples of the Third Reich slipped quite easily into the arms of Nazi dogma. To have openly and rationally opposed Nazism may have meant that you had signed your death warrant. An easy choice for the volk. But, pardon my hyperbole; your students are certainly not the volk. It is an easier path, though, propaganda, this being a layman's point of view, I might add.

  13. Sadly facts and reasoning appear to be helpless in the face of P.C. fashion.

    Students who think of themselves as "rebels" are, in fact, the slaves of P.C. fashion - they are unthinking followers, manipulated by whatever the next Frankfurt School fad is.

    So much for the future cultural elite.