Vive Le Quebec Libre!
Vive Le Quebec Libre!

Last week, a 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.

I kept going on with more embarrassing facts that made my accusers look silly.  To the point, indeed, that they simply left the room –only to come back later on to scream out “Zionists, Murderers!” with loudspeakers.

“Anti-Semitism is the snobbism of the poor” wrote Jean-Paul Sartre in his Réflexions sur la question juive.  Today, anti-Zionism is the snobbism of the ignorant.  On many campuses, all you need in order to acquire “respectability” without knowledge is to adopt an outraged attitude on Israel.

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.

The list of résistants is growing by the day.  It includes Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who declared recently that “those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to all of us;”  Former Spanish Prime Minister José Mariá Aznar, who says that “Israel’s struggle is our struggle;” Spanish liberal journalist Pilar Rahola, who has written that “if Israel is destroyed, our freedom, modernity and culture will be destroyed;” Italian member of parliament Fiama Nirenstein, who has declared that “the libelous accusations against Israel are an embarrassment to the world;” French Socialist senator Jean-Pierre Plancade, who implores Israel to win for the sake of his freedom; former German Social-democrat senator Thilo Sarrazin, who claims that Islam is overtaking Germany; and British journalist Melanie Philips who shows how Britain is sinking into irrationality.

When de Gaulle exclaimed « Vive le Québec libre! » from a balcony at the Montréal City Hall on July 24, 1967, he meant « freedom » from Anglo-Saxon supremacy.  Today, Québec’s freedom, and indeed the freedom of the West, is once again threatened by the hatred and irrationality of which the Jews are always the first, but not last, victims in line.  Now that we Jews are sovereign and free, our former oppressors expect us to prevail for their own sake.  What an irony –and what a responsibility.