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, “is a foolish act in a frequent series of recent follies,” said Boaz Okun, the legal commentator of Yediot Aharonot.
“Put 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.”
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.
“There is no change in our policy”
Said Bibi’s spokesman Mark Regev,
“The 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:
“There were two basic points…One was that the government of Israel does not like the kinds of things I say — 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.”
A conservative group of Parliament members, though, said they had no objection to the decision.
“This is a decision of principle between the democratic ideal — and we all want freedom of speech and movement — and the need to protect our existence,” asserted Otniel Schneller, of Kadima. “Let’s say he came to lecture at Birzeit. What would he say that? That Israel kills Arabs, that Israel is an apartheid state?”
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, Chomsky’s would-be host in the West Bank, condemned Israel’s decision, saying:
“The 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.”
Last month, Ivan Prado, one of Spain’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.