He bears an eminently Hebrew first name, and so does his daughter, Aviva, who accompanied him.
I met him for the first time in the 60s, when I visited him in his cramped quarters at MIT, one of the most respected academic institutions in the US and the world.
He spoke with some nostalgia about the kibbutz (Hazorea, of the leftist Zionist Hashomer Hatzair movement), where he had lived for a year in his youth. We exchanged opinions and agreed that the two-state idea was the only practical solution.
His first name was given to him by his parents, who were born in the Russian empire and emigrated to the US in their youth. The mother tongue of both was Yiddish, but they devoted their home to Hebrew culture, and Noam spoke Hebrew from early childhood. In the mental world of his youth, socialism and anarchism were mixed with Zionism. His doctoral thesis was about the Hebrew language.
I have been following his statements ever since. I never found any opposition to the existence of Israel. What I did find was sharp criticism of the Israeli government's policies the same criticism levied by the Israeli peace forces. But he is far more critical of the successive US administrations, whose policies he considers to be the mother of all evils.
When the two professors, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, published their revolutionary expose supporting the claim that Israel controls US policy through the Israel lobby, Chomsky contradicted them and argued that the reverse was true: that it is the US which exploits Israel for its imperialist designs, contrary to real Israeli interests.
As for myself, I believe that both theses are right. Chomsky's assertion may be illustrated by the present American veto on a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, as well as the American intervention that prevents the Gilad Shalit prisoners' swap.
So why, for God's sake, was this man denied entry into the country?
I HAVE a theory which would explain everything.
For many centuries, the Jews were persecuted in Christian Europe. Anti-Semitism turned their life into hell. They fell victim to pogroms, mass expulsions, confinement in ghettos, oppressive edicts and discriminatory laws. In the course of time, they developed mental and practical defense mechanisms, methods of survival and routes of escape.
Since the Holocaust, the situation has changed radically. In the US the Jews now live in a paradise unparalleled since the Golden Age in Muslim Spain. When the State of Israel came into being, it attracted world-wide admiration and sympathy.
That was wonderful, but below the surface of the national consciousness if one may generalize - a sense of unease, of disorientation, set in. The tried and trusted defense mechanisms, which had given the Jews a feeling of orientation and awareness of lurking dangers, disintegrated. They felt that something was out of order, that the well-known road signs were not working anymore. When the Gentiles laud the Jews or are ready to make alliances with them, that is suspicious. Clearly, something sinister must be behind it. Things are not as we knew them. That's frightening.
Since then, we have been working feverishly to bring the situation back to normal. Without being conscious of it, we do what we can to be hated again, to feel at home, on familiar ground.
If there is a conspiracy, it is a conspiracy of ourselves against ourselves. We shall not rest until the world is anti-Semitic again, and we know how to behave.
As the jolly song goes: "The entire world is against us, but what the hell"