Why Does An Israeli Academic Require Bodyguards?
Dr. Emmanuel Navon is founder of an international marketing consulting group and a lecturer at Tel-Aviv University. He recounts this experience of coming to speak at Montreal University:
After I delivered my lecture there, I was surrounded by four bodyguards who 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’m 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’m 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).
So, a visiting academic requires four bodyguards to counter anticipated violence solely on the basis of his nationality. And rather than uphold the principle of academic freedom and freedom of expression – about “the geopolitics of energy” – university faculty decide to vote on whether he can speak.
Imagine Dr. Navon was from somewhere else – anywhere else. Can you imagine faculty having to vote to allow him to speak solely on the basis of which country he called home? That faculty voted for him to speak is commendable, but it might have gone either way – in effect, creating an informal academic boycott of Israel, a country that Canada has huge research partnerships with.
Still, perhaps the tide is turning. Dr. Navon actually seems optimistic about what else he has found on North American college campuses and elsewhere:
The audience at UQÀM was not only composed of Arab inciters and native simpletons. In fact, dozens of people came to me at the end of my talk (and Q&A session) to shake my hand and say thank you. Some were Jews, many were Christians. They all said the same thing to me: “Thank you for saying the truth, thank you for restoring our pride, thank you for giving us hope.”
Those people know that their freedom is at stake. So do more and more Europeans and Americans. They realize that the intellectual terrorism, irrationality and hypocrisy that characterize the treatment of Israel in the West are ultimately a threat to the West itself.
Is the tide really turning? Well, we did have the Goldstone retraction this week...
Jonathon Narvey is the Editor of The Propagandist