Noa Tishby, 47, Israel’s inaugural special envoy for combating antisemitism and the delegitimization of Israel, is not known for holding punches. Her Feb. 21 talk at Duke University in Durham, N.C., was no exception.
When moderator David Schanzer, a public-policy professor at Duke, called Tishby’s 2021 book, Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth a “wonderful read,” Tishby had another view. Her volume is “a history book with some F-bombs in it,” she said.
At another point in the talk, Tishby—an actress whose credits include “Star Trek: Enterprise,” “Charmed” and “NCIS”—told the nearly 200 assembled students: “If you try to tell me that Israel does not have the right to exist, if you try to slander what Zionism is—excuse me, you’re wrong. You’re an idiot.”
The event was co-sponsored by Duke’s Center for Jewish Studies and Freeman Center for Jewish Life, the Israel on Campus Coalition, Students Supporting Israel and Chabad at Duke. One of the organizers, Duke sophomore and public-policy major Alex Ahdoot, described Tishby as “an absolute superstar.”
To see how normalized anti-Israel sentiments have become, Tishby told those assembled that one need only look to Wikipedia. Israel is the only country to have a page questioning its legitimacy. Not even North Korea has that, she said.
In conversation with activists on campus, who support the BDS movement, Tishby advised students to ask which other countries they want to dismantle. “It’s just one country, and that country just happens to be Jewish,” she said.
To Schanzer, the moderator, Tishby explained that she titled her book a “simple” guide because supporting Israel isn’t complicated.
“The Jewish people deserve the right to self-determination, self-governance in some parts of their ancestral home,” she said. “That’s it. That’s as simple as it gets.”