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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Chomsky Expelled by the Only Democracy in the Middle East




When I first heard that the Zionist State of Israel had just barred Noam Chomsky from entering it, the first thing I thought was ‘thank god for Netanyahu/Liberman’. They can achieve far more than we will ever manage when it comes to explaining why Israel is not a normal or democratic state but a racial oddity.


Then I remembered Euripides saying about ‘Those whom the gods seek to destroy they first drive mad’. Clearly that is now happening. Any criticism of Israel, especially from Jewish sources, now drives them mad. And when they are driven mad they do unpredictable things. Almost like a drug addict who self-harms. Except in this case Israel is dependent on American arms and money as well backed up by its own sense of superiority.

Chomsky, an 81 year old, world renowned linguist, is someone who is, in many ways a soft-Zionist. He was never opposed per se to a Jewish State. He even opposes the Boycott campaign though he supports hitting those who supply arms to Israel. He was told at the border with Jordan that he was being barred because the Israeli government didn’t like what he was saying! This is, of course, the classical definition of a police state. And in many ways Israel is a police state, certainly for Arabs and non-Jews.

Most western states have come to adopt, however faltingly, the Voltarian principles of free speech and the right to offend. In Israel the chauvinism and sheer racism makes free speech anything but free. For speaking out and especially for organising around one’s opposition to state policies, however peacefully, there is no free speech but plenty of prison space.

The deportation of Chomsky is yet another own goal of the Israeli state. We are often told that Kadima the Israeli opposition is a ‘centrist’ party. The comments of Kadima MK Otniel Schneller give the lie to this, or rather in Israel Kadima is indeed a centrist party, but not the centre most of us know. It is equidistant between the right (Israeli Labour) and the far-right. As Schneller explained “It's good that Israel did not allow one of its accusers to enter its territory,” said Schneller. “I recommend [Chomsky] try one of the tunnels connecting Gaza and Egypt.” This racist pig had made it clear that those who oppose the Israeli State should be forced to crawl on their hands and knees for sustenance in life.

Tony Greenstein

Declaring war on the intellect - Israel and Noam Chomsky

In barring a renowned academic from Israel and the West Bank, the government's outrageous treatment of its critics has reached new heights.

Haaretz Editorial

By stopping the illustrious American scholar Prof. Noam Chomsky at the Allenby Bridge and barring his entry into Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the government's outrageous treatment of those with the audacity to criticize its policies has reached new heights. Israel looks like a bully who has been insulted by a superior intellect and is now trying to fight it, arrest it and expel it.

Chomsky is a controversial and bold intellectual. His linguistic research has brought him unquestionable respect, but his political writings and speeches, in which he bluntly and acerbically attacks any government that he thinks deserves it, have made him unpopular both inside and outside the United States.

Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine any country that would not feel honored to be visited by Chomsky, apart from Israel, which has its own accounts to settle with him. As a Jew who lived here for a brief period in the 1950s and is fluent in Hebrew, Chomsky takes a great interest in events here. In many articles, petitions and open letters, he has been sharply critical of Israel's actions and policies.

Like many other members of the intellectual left in the U.S., Chomsky has roundly condemned the occupation and displayed sympathy for the Palestinian struggle against it. In recent years, he has often been quoted as calling Israel an apartheid state. But despite this, he has firmly opposed any blanket boycott of Israel. He says it is the settlements that should be boycotted, as well as the bodies that support them, both in Israel and abroad (including in the U.S. ), but that it makes no sense to boycott the Israeli public in general or its academic institutions.

Israel, however, has lost its last remnants of tolerance for anyone who does not join its shrinking chorus of supporters. On the right, but not only there, Chomsky is seen as a deserter, a traitor and an enemy of the people. The details of the incident, as reported by Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass, sound as if they were taken from the theater of the absurd or from some political satire on places and times that have gone down in infamy. The questions that were posed to Chomsky by a border inspector, on orders from his superiors, have to be read and reread to be believed.

"Israel," Chomsky was informed, "doesn't like what you say." Is this a reasonable pretext for a democratic state to detain someone for questioning or hold him up at the border? And who is this "Israel" that doesn't like what Chomsky says? The general public? The Interior Ministry? The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories? The government?

One does not have to be an ardent supporter of Chomsky in order to agree with his view that Israel is behaving like South Africa in the 1960s, when it understood that it was an outcast, but thought it could solve the problem with the help of a better public relations campaign.

Now that the affair has come to light, Interior Ministry sources are claiming it was COGAT that should have handled Chomsky, and that his detention was the result of a misunderstanding, whereas COGAT is claiming that it did not know of the scholar's arrival. This, at best, is blatant disingenuousness.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should apologize to Chomsky and make sure that he is allowed to move freely around Israel and throughout the West Bank, including Bir Zeit University. It is not yet too late to repair some of the damage caused by this harmful folly.


Noam Chomsky denied entry into Israel and West Bank

Interior Ministry seeking IDF approval to let American professor just into West Bank; rights group: Decision characteristic of totalitarian regime.

By Amira Hass

Professor Noam Chomsky, an American linguist and left-wing activist, was denied entry into Israel and the West Bank on Sunday.

No reason was initially given for the decision, but the Interior Ministry later said immigration officials at the Allenby Bridge border crossing from Jordan had misunderstood Chomsky's intentions thinking initially he was also due to visit Israel.

Chomsky, who is on a speaking tour in the region, was scheduled to speak at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank on Monday.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said officials were now trying to get clearance from the Israel Defense Forces, which controls access to the West Bank to allow Chomsky to enter that territory.

"We are trying to contact the military to clear things up and if they have no objection we see no reason why he should not be allowed in," said Hadad.
Chomsky said inspectors had stamped the words "denied entry" onto his passport when he tried to cross from Jordan over Allenby Bridge.

When he asked an Israeli inspector why he had not received permission, he was told that an explanation would be sent in writing to the American embassy. "They apparently didn't like the fact that I was due to lecture at a Palestinian university and not in Israel," Chomsky told Reuters by telephone from Amman.

Chomsky arrived at the Allenby Bridge at around 1:30 in the afternoon and was taken for questioning, before being released back to Amman at 4:30 P.M.

In a telephone interview with Channel 10, Chomsky said the interrogators had told him he had written things that the Israeli government did not like. "I suggested [the interrogator try to] find any government in the world that likes anything I say," he said.

Chomsky is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is considered among the foremost academics in the world. He identifies with the radical left and is often critical of both Israeli and American policies.

Chomsky said he last visited Israel and the West Bank in 1997 when he lectured at Ben-Gurion University and also at Bir Zeit. He said all his previous West Bank visits had been as a part of trips to Israel.

His Palestinian host, lawmaker Mustafa al-Barghouti called the decision "a fascist action, amounting to suppression of freedom of expression."

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel slammed the Interior Ministry for "using detention and deportation to prevent a man from expressing his opinion", calling it "characteristic of a totalitarian regime."

"A democratic country where freedom of expression is a guiding principle does not close in the face of criticism or ideas that are not comfortable and does not deny entry to guests only because it does not accept their opinions. Instead, it deals with these opinions through public discussion," said ACRI in a statement.

Kadima MK Otniel Schneller, on the other hand, praised the move.
"It's good that Israel did not allow one of its accusers to enter its territory," said Schneller. "I recommend [Chomsky] try one of the tunnels connecting Gaza and Egypt."

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