Israel has disallowed America's leading intellectual to speak to Palestinians.

File this under "Israel does not allow academic freedom for Palestinians", example #326 in a series.

From the Wapo:

An Israeli official says academic and polemicist Noam Chomsky, who is a fierce critic of Israel, has been denied entry to the country.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said Chomsky was turned away for "various reasons" but declined to elaborate. Chomsky was trying to cross the Allenby Bridge from Jordan. He was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank.

Notice that even the AP is a bit confused, as is the rest of the world, where Israel begins and where Israel ends. The Allenby Bridge is in the West Bank.

It seems that Israel likes to control who its prisoners are allowed to listen to. In any case, Israel has decided to punish its prisoners by not allowing who many regard as "the most important intellectual alive" into the Occupied West Bank.

Jewish intellectual Noam Chomsky, one of the prominent speakers against the Israeli policy, was stopped Sunday while trying to enter Israel  through the Allenby Bridge, sources in the Birzeit University in Ramallah told Ynet. ...

The American radical political activist was slated to visit the territories as a guest of the university and Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti, president of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees.

Barghouti, one of the leaders of the struggle against Israel, was slated to accompany Chomsky on his tour of the West Bank and separation fence. He said that "Israel's decision testifies to its racist nature. Even a person like Chomsky couldn't avoid it. We are proud of Chomsky's role in supporting the Palestinians and the struggle against the injustice of the occupation."
"Over time, the apparatus of Israeli control has become more sophisticated and effective in affecting Palestinian life," said Chomsky, a noted author and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor emeritus. Israel has finally begun to adopt the South African policy of what they call ‘indigenization of repression,’" he said.

Addressing the comparison between Israel and South Africa, Chomsky said, "It’s not exactly like the South African apartheid. In some respects it’s not as bad, but in some respects it’s worse."

Haaretz has this story:

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. ..

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. ...

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."

Given the popularity of Noam Chomsky on Universities in the US, and across the world, Israel has inadvertently given the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Apartheid Israel another very strong boost.  

Certainly, taken in context of recent Israeli actions, this certainly does not rate as anything close as to the worst Israel has to offer. Not allowing cement into Gaza is of far greater impact against millions of people. Not allowing material into Gaza so that they may rebuild their infrastructure and have the luxury of drinkable, healthy water is far, far worse.

We can also anticipate that Israel will use its military to attack, or at least harass, the approaching flotilla of boats that will seek to enter Gaza. Boats that will be carrying some 600 visitors and hundreds of tons of much needed aid. (They are not intimidated, but that does not guarantee their safety or success, only the demand of millions of people will do so).

As always, we know what to do. We must raise our voices in protest and demand justice, demand human rights. We must insist that US policy is changed so that Israel is held accountable for its crimes against the people of Palestine. As in so many instances in the past, we can expect that the grassroots will act long before politicians are moved to act. That is why the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement is so important.

UPDATE: Editorial in Ynet:
Fearing the other

The decision to expel Professor Noam Chomsky from the West Bank border crossing in order to prevent him from delivering a lecture at Birzeit University is a foolish act in a frequent series of recent follies. 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.

The decision to ban Chomsky is first and foremost blatantly illegal, as it blatantly contradicts the Supreme Court’s most important verdict in the Kol Ha’am case, where it ruled that restraining the freedom of speech is legal only in respect to statements that may create clear and immediate danger to public safety.

it would not be exaggerated to say that the decision to silence Professor Noam Chomsky is an attempt to put an end to freedom in the State of Israel. I am not referring to the foolishness inherent in providing ammunition for those who argue that Israel is fascist, but rather, to the fear that we may indeed be in the process of becoming that way.

Originally posted to Tom J on Sun May 16, 2010 at 02:13 PM PDT.

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