Editor’s note: the following article, reprinted from rslissak.com, was written by Dr. Emmanuel Navon regarding his recent lecture at Montreal University. During his time at the university, Dr. Navon was harassed for being an Israeli Jew.
Last week, Montréal University (l’Université du Québec à Montréal, or UQÀM) made me feel good: After I delivered my lecture there, I was surrounded by four bodyguards that rushed me through a backdoor and then into a car that drove off speedily. What fun: I felt like a head of State kept away from the mob or like James Bond narrowly escaping a Soviet trap. Alas for my ego, the true reason for this drama is that I am Israeli.
Although I was invited to give a talk on a non-controversial issue (the geopolitics of energy), what made my presence controversial is that I am Israeli. Some students and their representatives demanded the cancellation of my invitation on the grounds that hosting an Israeli would be an affront to the University, since Israel is “committing genocide in Palestine.” The faculty did not reject the demand outright. Rather, it organized a vote on the issue (a majority of professors rejected the cancellation of my lecture).
Those students who unsuccessfully tried to prevent me from speaking at UQÀM posted around the campus a picture and a quote of mine with the purpose of discrediting me. But both the picture and the quote they picked actually made me proud. The picture (downloaded from my website) shows me in my IDF uniform. As for the quote (also taken from my website), it goes like this: “Saying that you are anti-Zionistic but not anti-Semitic is like saying that you have nothing against the Jews as long as they are vulnerable.” As a Jew, I am proud to be a reserve soldier in the IDF. And as a public speaker and author, I like it when people quote my favorite punch lines.
After I finished my talk, the “questions” from the audience were mostly hysterical (and long) tirades on the “crimes of Zionism.” One student accused me of being a “war criminal” because of my affiliation with Bar-Ilan University (I’m a fellow at BIU’s Center for International Communication). Since BIU runs a couple of programs at the Ariel Academic College, that makes me a war criminal. To which I replied that the Ariel Academic College, as opposed to the Tel-Aviv University campus (where I teach), is not built on the ruins of an Arab village, and that as opposed to my Arab colleagues in Israeli universities, I as a Jew cannot become a professor in an Arab country.