Mais Ali-Saleh, an Israeli Arab has graduated first in her class at Israel's renowned Technion .
Guess who graduated first in this year's medical school class at the Technion, Israel's version of M.I.T.? The answer will surprise you. It's a 27-year-old stereotype-buster: a charming, feminist, smart, open-minded and observant Islamic woman named Mais Ali-Saleh who grew up in a small village outside of Nazareth, in Israel's Galilee.It's a BDS fail, as well. Contrary to what international anti-Israel activists would have you believe, Palestinian civil society does not universally support a boycott of Israel.
Ali-Selah's academic excellence not only marks her own personal achievement but also proves that contrary to propaganda spouted by proponents of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Movement -- whose latest convert is Stephen Hawking -- an academic boycott of Israel is the wrong approach to solving the Israel-Arab conflict. Moreover, it ultimately hurts the very people it claims to help. Ali-Selah put it best when she said, "An academic boycott of Israel is a passive move, and it doesn't achieve any of its purported objectives."
On trips to Europe, Ali-Selah said that people she met were surprised to learn that Israeli Arabs studied engineering and medicine in Israel, and that they lived among Jews. This lack of awareness helps the BDS Movement win misguided supporters. Boycotters like Roger Waters repeat a falsehood -- that Israel is an apartheid state -- and deny a fundamental truth: Arabs, in particular Arab women, have more freedom, liberties and academic opportunities in Israel than in any Arab country. Yes, they do.
Rather than an academic boycott -- which targets researchers who want to disseminate knowledge rather than restrict it -- Ali-Selah suggests a more active stance: encouraging academic life within the Palestinian Authority and strengthening academic ties with Palestinian universities, planning joint research projects with Palestinian scientists, and admitting more Palestinian scholars to European and American universities for academic programs.
Ali-Selah said that because she did medical research, the boycott did not negatively impact her work, but sooner or later, she said that it will impinge upon academic researchers she knows, both Jews and Arabs. That's why Stephen Hawking and others interested in advancing the cause of peace in the Middle East should focus their energies on supporting more of Israel's success stories like Mais Ali-Selah's, and pressuring Arab countries to emulate Israel's academic freedoms and democracy.
Some might argue that Ali-Selah is an exception to the rule about the Arab minority in Israel. But we only have to look at President Barack Obama to remember how unusual -- and important -- exceptions are.
Read the whole article at the Huff Post