Scottish prof’s home-run explanation to anti-Israel students

In Muslim countries like Iran, trials for criminal acts by an accused are anything but fair. In fact, such trials are mostly for show only as the outcome is predetermined by the government. Facts of the case really do not matter.

Similarly, in the world of public opinion, when it comes to supporting Israel, for many non-supporters, facts do not matter. They simply buy into antisemitic claims that Israel operates under an apartheid regime, it is a “Nazi” state, it has launched a Holocaust within Gaza, non-Jews are treated unequally, etc.

At a time in which many American college students today outrageously exhibit pro-Hamas/anti-Israel sentiment, it is important to examine what a Scottish professor – extremely well educated on issues of the Middle East – felt compelled to share with Scottish students of a similar ilk.

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Dr. Denis MacEoin is a non-Jewish professor who wrote an open letter to students who had approved a motion of The Edinburgh University Student’s Association (EUSA) to boycott all things Israeli, based on the allegation Israel is an apartheid regime.

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At the beginning of his letter, MacEoin – seeking to establish his credibility to address the topic – provided an impressive list of bona fides. A 1975 Edinburgh graduate, MacEoin had studied Persian, Arabic and Islamic History under two of Britain’s great Middle East experts, went on to get a Ph.D. at Cambridge and then to teach Arabic and Islamic Studies at Newcastle University. As a Middle East expert, he was a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly. He is also the author of several books and hundreds of articles about the Middle East.

MacEoin lamented that, as a Middle East expert, he was “shocked and disheartened by the EUSA motion and vote.” He wrote, “I am shocked for a simple reason: there is not and has never been a system of apartheid in Israel. … I have the impression that those members 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.”

He explained apartheid critics interested in facts needed only to visit Israel to dispel this myth:

“For apartheid to exist, there would have to be a situation that closely resembled how things were 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; Bahais, severely persecuted in Iran, flourish in Israel, where they have their world center; 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).

Next, MacEoin tackled the claim Israel is a Nazi state, writing:

“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.”

Continued MacEoin, “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 theaters.

“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 rescues and protects 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.”

MacEoin implored Edinburgh students to research the claim Israel operates under an apartheid regime as nothing could be further from the truth:

“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.”

MacEoin dinged the students as well for criticizing Israel while feeling no need to criticize real human rights abusers:

“Israel can and should be criticized in a moderate, balanced manner. But you go farther than that, singling out Israel for boycott while leaving some of the greatest human rights abusers to go free. If you cannot see the iniquity of that, or understand why it is a matter of shame for intelligent, educated people to take such an extreme position, then you are failing your responsibilities to engage with truth in a rational and unbiased manner. One can have no patience with that. Above all, do not pander to your prejudices – they will kill you morally and emotionally.”

The professor concluded his letter with the following challenge to students blindly accepting only one side of the argument:

“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.”

This letter and its challenge should be circulated at every American university where radical leftist professors have long been providing their view of Israel and Middle East policy to naive students as the only view.

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