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A range of comments on the banning of Chomsky's entry into occupied Palestine. The outcome was that Chomsky delivered his lecture via video link and this was televised live not only to the intended audience in Bir Zeit but via Al Jazeera to the whole Arab world!
This is the desperation of an oppressive regime under attack. While these attacks on democracy and freedom of speech by Israel are disturbing, we should also feel encouraged by the growing impotence of the colonialist regime which they signify.
May 19th, 2010 | by TheOnlyDemocracy | Add a Comment
From Right To Enter:
At this point, you could have quite the dinner party with the folks Israel leaves out! How do I get on that guest list?
UPDATE: Eitan Bronner has an article on the dustup inside Israel over whether it was such a great idea to ban Noam Chomsky, after doing likewise to Jewish American journalist Jared Maslin, Falk, and Goldstone as well as my personal favorite, Spain’s most famous clown Ivan Prado. Maybe if Israel didn’t need to hide what it was doing to Palestinians, Elvis Costello wouldn’t need to stay away as well!
The decision Sunday to bar [Chomsky]from entering the West Bank to speak at Birzeit, a Palestinian university, ‘is a foolish act in a frequent series of recent follies,’ remarked Boaz Okun, the legal commentator of the newspaper Yediot Aharonot, in his Monday column. ‘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.’”
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.
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.
Banned by Israel, Chomsky gives W.Bank lecture by video
(AFP) – 1 day ago
BIR ZEIT, West Bank — Renowned Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky, who was barred from the West Bank by Israel earlier this week, on Tuesday delivered a lecture to Palestinian students by video link from Jordan.
Around 100 students packed into a room at Bir Zeit University near the West Bank city of Ramallah to watch the lecture, delivered by live-link from the Jordanian capital, Amman.
Chomsky had been due to give the lecture in person on Monday, but was stopped from entering the West Bank at the Israeli-controlled crossing from Jordan.
After hours of questioning by border officials, Chomsky's passport was stamped with "Denied Entry" and he was sent away.
Israel's interior ministry insisted the incident was a "misunderstanding" and said the 81-year-old professor had not been blacklisted, while a senior government source described the situation as "a total cockup".
Although Israeli officials insisted he would be permitted to cross the border, Chomsky discovered on Monday there was no "official" guarantee he would be allowed in, so he decided to give the lecture by video link, the Haaretz daily reported.
Speaking to the paper about his lengthy interrogation at the border, Chomsky said he was told: "Israel does not like what you say."
Preventing him from entering the West Bank was "tantamount to boycotting Bir Zeit University," said Chomsky, who opposes a general boycott on Israel.
He told the paper that Israel's behaviour reminded him of that of South Africa in the 1960s, when it realised it was already considered a pariah, but thought it would resolve the problem with better public relations.
Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at the US Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a prominent critic of US foreign policy. He has also frequently spoken out against Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved. More »
Chomsky to Deliver Bir Zeit Lecture on Al Jazeera
In: Tikun Olam
May 18, 2010
Well, maybe this will teach the petty bureaucrats at the Israeli Interior Ministry a lesson. After lecturing him for four hours on the errors of his ways in criticizing Israel and telling him what he could or should do to be allowed admittance, they sent Prof. Noam Chomsky packing back to Amman. Later, Israeli PR flacks attempted to backtrack by lying and claiming it was all a clerical error by a desk jockey the Allenby Bridge. Still later, they offered to allow him back into the West Bank (which isn’t Israel last I checked, even by Israel’s standards, so why should they even be determining who enters Palestinian territory?). When Chomsky inquired about whether this was a bona fide official guarantee of entry he discovered it wasn’t. Israel is just playing games.
But Chomsky, not to be played the fool, has delightfully one-upped them all. He’s going to deliver his Bir Zeit lecture via video conference from Amman and it will be telecast live on Al Jazeera. That way it will reach an audience thousands of times larger than the original lecture would have. Since Al Jazeera is available in Israel, perhaps even Israeli citizens will be able to watch him take apart the hypocrisy and brustishness of Israeli policy and Occupation.
This is the problem with Israeli policy and with all authoritarian regimes (which the Occupation certainly is). It thinks of the short term benefit, not the long term. It thinks of tactics instead of strategies. It puts a finger in the dyke but does nothing to preserve the ecosystem itself.
On a related note, Haaretz columnist Brad Burston has written a typically eloquent, soul-searching cri de coeur about the ugly rise of fascism inside Israel. Lest my right-wing readers jump on Burston as a typically left-wing commentator, this is simply untrue. Burston made aliyah decades ago and joined Kibbutz Gezer, where I myself visited when I studied in Israel. He has impeccable credentials as a liberal Zionist. So for him to be writing so openly using such strong language should tell us that the canary is singing in the coal mine that is Israeli “democracy.” Israel is a nation under threat. Even perhaps a nation beginning to implode under our very eyes from the heap of self-contradictions under which it labors.
Noam Chomsky Was Not Prevented From Entering Israel
By Sam Husseini
May 18, 2010
Many reported that Noam Chomsky was recently stopped from entering Israel. This is false. Totally false. He was prevented from going to the Palestinian city of Ramallah by Israeli forces. This important distinction highlights among other things that Israel controls the borders into occupied Palestinian areas, a large part of the problem.
AP stated: "An Israeli official says academic and polemicist Noam Chomsky, who is a fierce critic of Israel, has been denied entry to the country". Al Jazeera English had Chomsky on and introduced the segment by saying he was "stopped from entering Israel". ABC News ran the headline "Noam Chomsky Denied Entry to Israel". Matthew Rothschild wrote: "On Sunday, the Israeli government denied Noam Chomsky entry into the country".
Some got the facts right, noting that Chomsky was denied entry into the West Bank by Israel -- but didn't highlight why or how that might be. The typical reader is likely unaware that Israel controls access to Palestinian areas, among many other aspects of everyday life that most people take for granted.
Israel regularly prevents people from entering occupied Palestinian areas. It's turned Gaza into a virtual prison camp. Goods cannot go to Palestinians without Israel's say so. People cannot go to Palestinian towns without Israel's say so. I've had relatives who are U.S. citizens marry Palestinians in the West Bank -- they had to leave every three months because that was the duration of the visa Israel gives them. I've seen Israeli forces take little girls into a room to be strip searched at the border from Jordan into the occupied West Bank. Israel in many respects is trying to make life for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza difficult so they will simply leave.
Bob Naiman -- who like Chomsky is Jewish -- notes on my facebook page: "I would like to go to Ramallah too, but the last time I tried to enter the West Bank, I was blocked at the Sheikh Jarrah bridge, and my passport was stamped 'no entry' just like uncle Noam. That was in 1996. Then, a few months ago, the Egyptians stopped me from going to Gaza..." Bob's last sentence refers to the Gaza Freedom March, when over 1,300 people (including myself) from over 40 countries tried to get into Gaza from Egypt, but the Mubarak regime stopped us, doing Israel's dirty work and beating many of us up, to the silence of most major media.
Even Amira Hass, a noted Israeli journalist, wrote "Professor Noam Chomsky, an American linguist and left-wing activist, was denied entry into Israel and the West Bank on Sunday".
This too is wrong -- Chomsky didn't request to enter Israel, so such a request couldn't be denied. Actually, if you listen to Chomsky's interview carefully on Democracy Now, he indicates that if he had tried to enter Israel, he would likely have been able to enter the West Bank -- exactly the opposite of what so many are claiming:
"I have spoken in Bir Zeit [University, near Ramallah] a number of times. ... The one difference in this case is that, on those occasions, I was visiting Israel and giving talks at Israeli universities and meetings and so on, and went to Bir Zeit on a side trip, and in this case, I was going to Bir Zeit and not speaking at Israeli universities. And in fact, the [Israeli] interrogator, who was reading questions that were coming from the [Interior] Ministry, repeatedly asked, "Well, why aren’t you also going to give talks in Israel?""
As Ali Abunimah observes: "It demonstrates that there is in fact one authority and it is not the 'Palestinian Authority.' It also shows that Israel is in fact effectively operating a political boycott while complaining about BDS!" [Referring to the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement activists like Abunimah are organizing against Israel, modeled on the similar movement against apartheid South Africa.]
Ironically, Noam Chomsky has been critical of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, listen to this debate earlier this year with him on KPFA.
I have had some qualms with the divestment sanctions movement myself, going back to South Africa. I don't want change to come by the economic power of people in the U.S. -- I want positive change to come because many people are better able to tell the truth or because people are better able to act in solidarity. But maybe we don't live in that world and the best we can expect is that one type of evil -- U.S. economic might -- can be used in part to fight Israeli colonialism (Lord knows U.S. economic might frequently helps Israeli colonialism.)
Perhaps the last irony is that the "Interior Ministry" of Israel is calling the shots. Chomsky -- and thousands, actually millions of others -- wants to go from Jordan to Ramallah and Nablus and Hebron and Bethlehem and Gaza and elsewhere. What does Israel have to do with it? Palestinians should be allowed to control their own borders.
- Sam Husseini is the founder of VotePact.org. Visit: http://husseini.posterous.com.