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Chomsky barred from West Bank,Israel says official to blame

A fierce debate broke out in Israel on Monday over the country’s refusal a day earlier to permit Noam Chomsky,the linguist and icon of the American left,to enter the occupied West Bank from Jordan....

A fierce debate broke out in Israel on Monday over the country’s refusal a day earlier to permit Noam Chomsky,the linguist and icon of the American left,to enter the occupied West Bank from Jordan. The media has questioned how Chomsky,81,a professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,could pose a risk to Israel.

Chomsky,who is Jewish and spent time in Israel in the 1950s,is a critic both of US and Israeli policy. He has objected to Israel’s foundation as a Jewish state,but he has supported a two-state solution.

The decision to bar him 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,of the newspaper Yediot Aharonot.

Government spokesmen issued statements saying the decision was made by an Interior Ministry official at the Jordan-West Bank border and did not represent policy. Mark Regev,a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said,”The idea that Israel is preventing people from entering whose opinions are critical of the state is ludicrous.” Regev said that if Chomsky tried to enter again,he would succeed.

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But Chomsky told Al Jazeera that the official who interviewed him was on the phone with other ministry officials and that he was taking instructions. “There were two basic points,” he said. “One that the government of Israel does not like the kinds of things I say…The second was that they seemed upset that I was just taking an invitation from Birzeit and I had no plans to speak in Israeli universities.”

First published on: 18-05-2010 at 01:52:10 am
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