Why can’t anti-Israel protesters just stay at home and read a book?

Those who vilify Israel might be surprised to learn that Israel invented the first mobile phone


Anti-Israel march in London on October 21, 2023 (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images)

I’m sure I speak on behalf of many in the community sector when I say that while post-October 7 boycotts are infuriating, ludicrous and pathetic, it is — as a teacher might say to a class of unruly students — their own time they’re wasting.

Of course, I am alluding to my Technion event featuring Douglas Murray, which resulted in a last-minute scramble to find an alternative venue following threats to staff, who became too afraid to work.

Again, infuriating, ludicrous and pathetic, but no more than that; we did, after all, enjoy a hugely successful event with a larger audience — and more media coverage — so I suppose, in some ways, I should thank them. But we are now dealing with fake complaints these people have made to the Charity Commission — again wasting everybody’s time.

I come back to the classroom. Students, typically, are thought of as young, naive, inexperienced, sometimes ignorant, and I could not think of better adjectives to describe the people who take to the streets chanting obscenely antisemitic phrases while draped in flags.

Things are never black and white, as they might realise if, instead of jumping on the bandwagon, they read a history book.

The travesty of the whole situation is two-pronged: firstly, it really is a waste of everyone’s time that could otherwise be spent doing something more beneficial. I initially said history books, but even watching paint dry would be less redundant. After all, if they think Palestinian civilians are benefiting from a group of people taking a break from their obviously mundane lives to wave a flag and chant some disgusting platitudes before heading home for a beer in front of a trashy British soap, they must be imagining some fictional reality even more unbelievable than a British soap.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, is this: if they took the war out of it and actually looked at the causes that they are trying to harm, they would see, quickly, that it’s not just their own time they’re wasting but so much more.

I can speak for the Technion — the Israel Institute of Technology that has been responsible for so many life-changing advancements in almost every sphere for over 100 years and is the home to four Nobel Prize winners — and I’m sure many will nod in agreement as they think of other Israeli institutions.

Do these people, who film themselves gleefully at demos using mobile phones to share online with their equally uninformed friends, know that the first mobile phone was invented in Israel in 1973?

I wonder if any have been treated by the NHS with a PillCam — the capsule camera invented at the Technion that delivers quick, easy and painless investigations and that is literally being used all over the UK?

Do they know anyone paralysed that might benefit from the ReWalk robotic suit, famously used by paraplegic campaigner Claire Lomas to complete the London Marathon?

I’m sure they would be interested to dig into the world’s first meat-free steak, too. Just a hunch, but it might be their kind of thing!

All Technion inventions and many more. So, attempting to dismantle our fundraising event, the proceeds of which would ultimately benefit every single person, regardless of race, religion or politics, seems more than counterproductive.

But it’s textbook for them, jumping on a “trendy” cause without understanding what it is.

We hope that they will — someday — graduate from school, but I fear that there is more chance of an Arab country actually supporting Palestinian civilians than waiting for these deluded people to read a book.

A for effort. F for result.

Must try much harder.

Alan Aziz is CEO of Technion UK

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