November 20, 2019
Lieutenant colonel Eyal Dror gave talks at King’s College London and Warwick University about setting up the humanitarian mission to help Syrian refugees - but his events were barracked and booed by pro-Palestine protestors
A retired Israeli soldier who helped thousands of Syrian refugees receive treatment in Israel was met with angry protests from students during a week-long speaking tour at British universities.
Lieutenant Colonel Eyal Dror gave talks at King’s College London and Warwick University about how he set up the Israel Defence Forces humanitarian mission Operation Good Neighbour in the Golan Heights.
The mission, which came to an end in 2018, brought injured Syrians over the border for treatment in Israeli hospitals.
But his visits to both universities, which were being hosted by Israel education organisation StandWithUs, was “hijacked”, the group said.
Videos of Lt Col Dror’s presentation at Warwick University show protesters chanting “shame on you” at him.
Lt Col Dror said: “My message to the UK is one of cooperation across people of all faiths for the benefit of people in need — Christians, Muslims and Jews working side by side to deliver hope to a generation of Syrian civilians who were victims of a tragic, bloody war.
"This message has the power to combat prejudice.”
Raphael Wein, StandWithUs UK executive director, said: “It is truly sickening to protest a presentation by an amazing humanitarian, Israeli Lt Col Eyal Dror, who led an effort to treat 1,400 Syrian children and deliver tonnes of aid into an enemy country. Who on earth would protest that?”
He said the students protesting the visit were “extremists” who “won’t allow dialogue, coexistence or education to take place.
“They don’t care about reconciliation. They don’t care about Syrians who are persecuted. They are anti-peace. Despite their efforts to shut it down, the tour continues and audiences are embracing this story of humanity in the Middle East.”
Before the talk, hundreds of Warwick University students had signed an online petition opposing it taking place at the campus.
“In the same week that over 34 Palestinians have been massacred by the IDF, the university has chosen to allow a colonel from that same force to speak on campus,” the petition stated.
The Warwick Students’ Union said there had been “considerable unease” surrounding the talk.
It said: “All student societies, particularly those with political interests, to think carefully about who they invite onto campus, and to consider the potential impact this has on our diverse range of communities here at Warwick.
“It is all too easy to forget that… the presence of certain individuals on our campus may be threatening to others.”