Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Feature Head to head

Should we consider a boycott of Israeli academic institutions? Yes

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 19 July 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:124

Rapid Response:


You wrote:
"We are accused of unfairly singling out Israel—the Jewish state...We
are asked why we do not propose a boycott of other states whose policies
are barbaric and inhuman...In the case of Israel, we are speaking about a
society whose dominant self image is one of a bastion of civilisation in a
sea of medieval reaction...of a culture, both in Israel and in the long
history of the Jewish diaspora, in which education and scholarship are
held in high regard"

I am not sure whether this is more insulting to the Israelis or the
Arabs. Has the author travelled to the Middle East? The Israelis don't
think about their neighbours as "a sea of medieval reaction". The comment
is laughably inaccurate. In fact they can watch the television shows of
the nearby countries or travel in Muslim countries on holiday. It is
abundantly clear to the Israelis that the Arab countries are modern states
in which life is in many ways not too different from their own.

There would be many too in Fez or Cairo who would take issue with the
concept that Arabic scholarship is not held in high regard. Has the author
seen the reverence felt in those cities for their ancient seats of

Still, that point was consistent with the tone of the article, which
reads like a poor primary-school history essay. Perhaps the author should
go back and read about the real medieval interactions between Jews,
Muslims and Christians - without them we would have no medicine to speak

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

27 July 2007
Mark B Suss
Melbourne 3162