A fierce debate was had after Israeli authorities refused to permit Noam Chomsky, linguist and American left icon, to enter Samaria from Jordan.
So, like how can an 81-year-old professor emeritus at MIT pose a risk to Israel? Right?
Mr. Chomsky, a Jew who lived on a kibbutz in Israel in the 1950s, is a blunt critic of both American and Israeli policy. But a terrorist?
Barring him from entering the West Bank to lecture at Bir Zeit, a Palestinian university, â€œis a foolish act in a frequent series of recent follies,â€ said Boaz Okun, the legal commentator of Yediot Aharonot.
â€œPut together, they may mark the end of Israel as a law-abiding and freedom-loving state, or at least place a large question mark over this notion.â€
Government spokespersons were humiliated and issued statements saying that the decision was made by an Interior Ministry official at the Jordan-West Bank border and did not actually represent policy.
â€œThere is no change in our policyâ€
Said Bibi’s spokesman Mark Regev,
â€œThe idea that Israel is preventing people from entering whose opinions are critical of the state is ludicrous; it is not happening. This was a mishap. A guy at the border overstepped his authority. Upon a second attempt to enter, Mr. Chomsky would succeed…The Jewish Country has no intention of breaking policy — or threatening the spirit of freedom for that matter”.
Chomsky held a television interview from Jordan with Al Jazeera in which he said:
â€œThere were two basic pointsâ€¦One was that the government of Israel does not like the kinds of things I say â€” which puts them into the category of I suppose every other government in the world. The second was that they seemed upset about the fact that I was just taking an invitation from Birzeit and I had no plans to go on to speak in Israeli universities, as I have done many times in the past, but not this time.â€
A conservative group of Parliament members, though, said they had no objection to the decision.
â€œThis is a decision of principle between the democratic ideal â€” and we all want freedom of speech and movement â€” and the need to protect our existence,â€ asserted Otniel Schneller, of Kadima. â€œLetâ€™s say he came to lecture at Birzeit. What would he say that? That Israel kills Arabs, that Israel is an apartheid state?â€
Mr. Chomsky said he had last visited in 1997 and was then refused entry as well, and returned to Amman, the Jordanian capital.
Moustafa Barghouti, Chomskyâ€™s would-be host in the West Bank, condemned Israelâ€™s decision, saying:
â€œThe decision of Israel to prevent Professor Chomsky from entering the Palestinian Territories is a result of the numerous campaigns against Chomsky organized by the Jewish lobby in the United States.â€
Last month, Ivan Prado, one of Spainâ€™s very famous clowns, spent six hours at Ben-Gurion airport being questioned by security agents before being sent back to Madrid. He was planning to run a clown festival modeled after one in Spain in Ramallah but was accused of having ties with Palestinian terrorist groups.
Actually, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Mr. Prado was caught lying during questioning at the airport and that his cell phone, which he denied having, contained a telephone number of a Palestinian, considered to be a member of a terrorist group.
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