But apparently Israel does. Haaretz reports that Noam Chomsky “was denied entry into Israel and the West Bank,” where he was scheduled to give a lecture at Bir Zeit University.
Israel so far has offered no formal or public explanation for their actions, but Chomsky responded to press queries that Israeli authorities did give him a hint as to their motivations:
Speaking from Amman, Chomsky said he had tried to cross the bridge with his daughter. He said he was politely questioned, “actually they were more statements than questions,” Chomsky said. “I was told the government doesn’t like the kinds of things I say, and secondly, [they] don’t like the fact I will only be speaking at Bir Zeit and not speak at any Israeli University,” Chomsky told Channel 10.
Asked what he answered, Chomsky replied: “I told them there is no government that likes anything I have to say, and that I have spoken at Israeli Universities many times and tried to go over to speak at Bir Zeit at those times.”
The Alice in Wonderland quality of the Israeli government’s reasoning is funny, but also depressingly self-destructive:
While I often disagree with Chomsky’s views I do find his work worth reading, and exposure to a wide variety of views should be part of the function of a university. The Israeli government shows a poor understanding of this concept in making this decision, as well as undermining Americans who support Israel out of a support for a democratic nation in the middle east. While Chomsky has been very critical of Israel, those who disagree with him would be wiser to respond to his arguments than to deny him entry into the country.
Ron also has a great response to this tripe from Donald Douglas:
It would seem — in a rational world — that Noam Chomsky would be generating condemnation from both left and right, but things aren’t always so rational, and in the aftermath of the MIT Linguistics Professor’s rebuff by Israeli authorities, some folks on the left — unsurprisingly — are outraged.
Here is Ron’s response:
I do not feel threatened by people such as Chomsky expressing views I disagree with. I do see governments who prevent people from speaking their opinion to be a danger. I also do not agree with Douglas equating censoring Chomsky with defending its sovereignty. As I noted in the original post, a far better response would be to defend their position and dispute Chomsky’s views.
Steve Clemons makes an interesting additional point about differing views:
Noam Chomsky‘s politics are not my own — but I read him and want to remain aware of his views. I also read Alan Dershowitz, who essentially has become a Noam Chomsky of the right when it comes to Israel policy.
I have always been intrigued and impressed with the depth and breadth of internal debate inside Israel and always wanted to import the quality of that debate to the US, which has a much more binary, narrow band approach to US-Israel issues. It’s a really bad sign when official Israel begins to try and squelch those with which it disagrees rather than debating them publicly — which was always Israel’s forte.