Chomsky Banned from West Bank

Published: May 17th 2010
in News » Israel

Noam Chomsky
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Noted linguist and Jewish-American leftist Noam Chomsky has been refused entry into the West Bank from Jordan, the New York Times reported.


This decision caused fiery debate among Israelis, regarding whether or not the 81-year-old professor emeritus from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology would pose any actual risk to Israel.


Furthermore, some are arguing that it seems contradictory for a country that asserts itself as democratic to keep out someone whose views it finds offensive, said the Times.


Chomsky is outspokenly critical of both American and Israeli policy. He is, himself, Jewish, having lived on a Kibbutz in Israel in the 1950’s. He has in the past objected to Israel’s foundation as a Jewish state, however he condones the two-state solution.


According to Boaz Okun, legal commentator for the newspaper Yediot Aharonot, the decision to ban Chomsky from speaking at Birzeit, a Palestinian university, is a “foolish act,” adding that it “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.”


In a television interview with Al Jazeera, Chomsky responded to the situation with the following: “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.”


Some conservative members of the Israeli government said they did not object to the decision.


Otniel Schneller of the centrist Kadima party told Israel Radio, “Let’s say he came to lecture at Birzeit. What would he say? That Israel kills Arabs, that Israel is an apartheid state?”


Moustafa Barghouti, who was to host Chomsky in the West Bank, decried Israel’s refusal to let him in, 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.”


Chomsky had last visited Israel in 1997. This time, his two friends were permitted entry, but he and his daughter were not.

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