Protesters call for boycott of Israel [file].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The dogma of unreasoned hate pervades the atmosphere in seats of higher learning and research as campaigners for an end to Israel make dangerous inroads into the once hallowed hallways of British academia.
The beginning of 2016 saw the nadir of freedom of speech at King’s College London, a once proud bastion of open debate and intellectual honesty.
When Ami Ayalon, former director of Israel’s Shin Bet security service and currently a left-wing pro-peace activist, began his talk in a small room on the UK campus on January 20, protesters set off fire alarms, broke a window, threw chairs and physically assaulted a female attending the talk as they screamed abuse.
They interrupted an event organized by the King’s College Israel Society designed to find a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestinian problem with chants of “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free,” clearly indicating that their cause is not peace but an end to Israel.
Amazingly, although a large number of police was required to put down the violence, no arrests were made.
This type of intimidation and violence is becoming increasingly common on campuses as intolerant radicals close down thought and debate that conflict with their agenda. There is little colloquy left in academia for Israeli advocates.
This sorry state of affairs is moving into the realm of research. At the same time as the Zionist group at Kings College was being attacked, 71 British doctors called to expel the Israel Medical Association from the world body. The reason given was that Israeli doctors were allegedly carrying out “medical torture” on Palestinian patients.
One wonders where men of supposed intellect not only get this nonsense, but use it to ban some of the world’s finest medical minds.
Staggeringly, the urge to ban Israeli medical researchers and scientists from the World Medical Association, based on fraudulent accusations, occurred at the same time that Israeli medical scientists announced a breakthrough in the treatment of ALS.
Until now, there had been no significant success in slowing the progression of Lou Gehrig’s disease. But now, thanks to the research conducted at Israel’s Hadassah- University Medical Center, it seems that collecting stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow and injecting it into the patient’s spinal fluid not only stops the degeneration, but actually reverses the process. Notable improvement has been recorded in the neurological functions of the test patients.
It is unacceptable that a blind political bias against the Jewish state has led to the situation where expert Israeli voices can no longer be heard in Britain and that these haters are dominating the academic conversation.
What can we learn from these British-based provocations? You can’t have peace without truth. As we see with the Palestinian refusal to even negotiate and the UK attempt to boycott Israeli academics and to close down free speech, you can’t have truth or peace without conversation.
We also learn that both the Palestinians and their global supporters reject the notion of the existence of a Jewish state to the point of violence.
Israel will continue to prosper and thrive. The benefits emanating out of Israeli academia and research centers will continue to benefit a world that is noisily hurling abuse and lies against us.
The problem lies with the closing of the academic mind in Britain linked to its rejection of Jewish thought and expression. When academic minds refuse to listen, the campus becomes a place of dogma. When it becomes a place of dogma it is no longer academia, a place of meeting of minds and open conversation. It is a harm inflicted upon itself, more than upon us.
The development of the Israeli academic genius and our desire for peace will continue to shine through the black clouds of hate and negativity we are witnessing within the UK and, sadly, on campuses elsewhere.
The writer is the senior associate for public diplomacy at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. He is the author of Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism and Israel Reclaiming the Narrative, available on www.barrysbooks.info and from Amazon.