Noam Chomsky denied entry to Israel
Left-wing US Jewish intellectual known as fierce critic of Jewish state delayed for four hours while trying to enter country through Allenby Bridge in order to deliver lecture at Birzeit University. Interior Ministry: We'll consider letting him speak in Ramallah. Security source: Decision made against procedures
Jewish intellectual Noam Chomsky, one of the prominent speakers against the Israeli policy, was stopped Sunday while trying to enter Israel through the Allenby Bridge, sources in the Birzeit University in Ramallah told Ynet.
According to the officials, Chomsky was scheduled to deliver a lecture at the university and was delayed at the border crossing for more than four hours. A human rights activists who was with Chomsky at the crossing confirmed that the 81-year-old linguist was not allowed to enter Israel.
The Interior Ministry confirmed that the left-wing linguist was not allowed to cross the bridge. "Prof. Chomsky arrived at the border crossing and asked to speak only in Ramallah," a ministry official said.
"At the moment the request has not been approved, but we will look into it soon with the coordinator of the government activities in the territories and consider letting him speak in Birzeit."
A security source told Ynet on Sunday evening that the Interior Ministry made the decision on its own, and against procedures.
A Foreign Ministry official said the decision not to let Chomsky cross Allenby Bridge was made following professional recommendations from the Civil Administration and the Coordination and Liaison Authority.
The Civil Administration and the Coordination and Liaison Authority said in response that it had yet to receive an appeal on the matter. "When such an appeal arrives, it will be examined according to procedures."
The American radical political activist was slated to visit the territories as a guest of the university and Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti, president of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees.
According to Barghouti, security sources at Allenby Bridge told Chomsky that he would not be allowed to enter Israel following an order issued by senior Israeli Interior Ministry officials due to his political opinions.
Barghouti, one of the leaders of the struggle against Israel, was slated to accompany Chomsky on his tour of the West Bank and separation fence. He said that "Israel's decision testifies to its racist nature. Even a person like Chomsky couldn't avoid it. We are proud of Chomsky's role in supporting the Palestinians and the struggle against the injustice of the occupation."
The American intellectual was scheduled to deliver a lecture on the "liberalism in industrialized European societies."
Finkelstein: Israel has gone over edge
Dr. Norman Finkelstein, a US political scientist known for his outspoken criticism of Israel's policies, has already experienced what Prof. Noam Chomsky experienced Sunday at the Allenby Bridge border crossing. Exactly two years ago, Finkelstein arrived in Israel and was denied entry for "security reasons."
Won't speak in Birzeit. Chomsky (Archive photo: AP)
In a conversation with Ynet from his home in the US, Finkelstein explained that Israel had gone over the edge of the precipice. He said he personally had not been surprised by the reports that Chomsky had been denied entry, and that obviously it was an unwise decision. This is something Israelis need to think about, he said, as Israel is "looking down its nose" at the whole world, even though it’s a tiny state.
Israel has passed the point of no return, Finkelstein asserted, saying he hoped that there were still enough people in Israel to stop the dangerous deterioration, and that the picture taking shape was hard to stomach. The case of Chomsky is a grave indication, among many other indications seen each day, that Israel is losing its grip on reality, he said. No healthy government would have prevented the entry of such an important and respected person, without taking public relations into account – it just shows that Israel is going crazy, he added.
Finkelstein believes that Israel will allow Chomsky to enter on Monday in an attempt to reduce the damage it caused itself – but it will be too little, too late. Israel, he said, is becoming more like South Africa in its isolation from the rest of the world and in its contempt for international opinion. The case of Chomsky, like the responses to Richard Goldstone after the publication of the so-called Goldstone report on Israel's war in the Gaza Strip, shows that intolerance is growing and the tribe mentality is becoming dominant, he said.
Israel calls itself the only democracy in the Middle East, he continued, but – as far as he knows – it is the only place in the world that prevented Chomsky from entering was the Soviet bloc during the Cold War, so what does this say about Israel?
Chomsky, a professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a fierce critic of the Jewish state. In March, Chomsky called on US citizens to confront Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians.
"Over time, the apparatus of Israeli control has become more sophisticated and effective in affecting Palestinian life,” said Chomsky, a noted author and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor emeritus. Israel has finally begun to adopt the South African policy of what they call ‘indigenization of repression,’” he said.
Addressing the comparison between Israel and South Africa, Chomsky said, “It’s not exactly like the South African apartheid. In some respects it’s not as bad, but in some respects it’s worse.”
"For decades, Israel has been killing and kidnapping civilians in Lebanon…bringing them to Israel, imprisoning them, keeping them as hostages…but two Israel soldiers are captured at the border (and it) justifies a US invasion,” he said. “It’s a comment of us and what we go along with.”
Anat Shalev and Shmulik Grossman contributed to this report