Asaf Romirowsky, was supposed to appear on a panel on the Middle East last week at the University of Delaware, but he was uninvited at the last minute when a Delaware professor said he wasn't comfortable appearing with Romirowsky, a veteran of Israel's army who is now a fellow at the Middle East Forum, a think tank sympathetic to Israel. Muqtedar Khan, who teaches political science at Delaware, sent an e-mail message to one of the student organizers of the event, saying he was "not sure how I feel about being on the same panel with an Israeli soldier who was stationed in West Bank. Some people see IDF as an occupying force in the West Bank. I am not sure that I will be comfortable occupying the same space with him." Students then called Romirowsky, and asked him not to attend. Romirowsky sees the incident as a violation of academic freedom. He noted in an interview that because military service is nearly universal in Israel, any university agreeing to exclude Israeli veterans from panels would effectively be excluding almost all Israelis. A spokesman for the university said that the institution never sought to rescind Romirowsky's invitation and that the action was based on a "misunderstanding" by students that the university regretted. Khan said he was only expressing his discomfort and that he would not have suggested anyone be excluded. He said that when he arrived at the event, he assumed Romirowsky would be there. He added that people who received his e-mail had missed the humorous tone, in which he said he was trying to be "cute" with references to "occupying the same space" intended as an ironic reference to Israel's occupation of the West Bank.
Inside Higher Education
October 31, 2007