That is, of course, a mendacious excuse, since the ministry itself has recently denied entry to several personalities who profess sympathy with the Palestinians, including the most popular clown in Spain.
A PERSONAL memory of mine: a dozen years ago I took part in a heated public debate in London with Edward Said, the late Palestinian professor. He happened to mention that his friend, Noam Chomsky, was about to deliver a lecture at a local university.
I hastened there and saw the building surrounded by a dense crowd of young men and women. With great difficulty I pushed my way to the stairs which led up to the lecture hall, but was stopped by the ushers. I pleaded in vain that I was a friend of the lecturer and that I had come all the way from Israel just to hear him. They told me that even a needle could not be squeezed in. Such was his popularity even then.
Noam Chomsky is, perhaps, the most in-demand intellectual on earth. His reputation goes way beyond his academic specialty linguistics where he is considered a genius. He is the guru of millions around the planet. The world media treat him as a cerebral celebrity.
If so, what could have induced the Ministers of the Interior and/or Defense to hold this man for four hours and then send him back where he came from? Abysmal folly? Malice? Vengefulness? All of these? Or perhaps something else?
THIS AFFAIR has many wide-ranging implications.
First of all: it is a provocation against the Palestinian Authority, with whom Binyamin Netanyahu wants to have direct peace negotiations or so he says. It's like spitting in their face.
Chomsky arrived as a guest of Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian leader who espouses non-violence and human rights. He came to give lectures at a Palestinian university.
How does that concern Israel? What Chutzpa is it to prevent Palestinian students from hearing a lecturer of their choosing?
And what does it tell us about Netanyahu's perorations about "Two States for Two Peoples"? What kind of a Palestinian state is this supposed to be, if Israel can decide who is allowed to enter, and who not? Especially in light of the Israeli demand to control all the border crossing of the new state!
SECOND, ALL over the world a campaign is in full swing to boycott all Israeli universities. Not only the self-styled "University Institute" at the Ariel settlement, and not only Bar-Ilan University, which helped to set it up. All of them.
Several associations of academics in the UK and other countries have adopted resolutions to impose this boycott, and other groups oppose it. It is an ongoing battle.
The opponents of the boycott raise the flag of academic freedom. Where shall we be if we boycott researchers and thinkers because of their country of residence or opinions? The Italian writer Umberto Eco has written his colleagues an emotional letter against the boycott. I, too, oppose it.
And here comes the government of Israel and pulls the rug out from under our feet. No one suggests that Chomsky supports terrorism or is coming to spy. His entry was denied solely because of his views. This means that academic freedom is good only if it serves those who praise Israel, but is worth no more than a garlic's skin (as we say in Hebrew) when it is used by somebody who objects to the policies of the Israeli government.
That is a direct help for the boycotteers. The more so since not a single Israel university or group of academics has raised its voice in protest.
THE ASSERTION that Chomsky is an enemy of Israel is ludicrous.