The Chomsky affair: Israel has showed the world today that the West Bank, not just Gaza, is under siege

Posted: May 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments »

noam_chomskyMuch has been written on Israel’s decision not to allow entry to Left-wing linguist Noam Chomsky today, and I guess even more will be written. Form the official Israeli response, it is not clear who made the decision in this case – a top government official or a low level bureaucrat – and it seems that Chomsky might still be permitted to enter the West Bank, once some people will realize the PR damage to what’s left of the reputation of the only democracy in the Middle East. But that’s not the important issue here.

According to Chomsky, what bothered Israeli officials at the Allenby crossing was not only his views, but the fact that he intends to visit the West Bank, and not Israel. Later it was said that the IDF authority might end up granting him a visa. But whatever way this affair ends, it is clear that Chomsky made a better case against Israel today than in anything he said or wrote. He practically proved that the Palestinians are far from being autonomous, and that the West Bank is in reality under siege, with Israel dictating who and what might leave or enter.

When the Spanish clown Ivan Pedro was denied entry by the Shin Beit into the West Bank, some people tried to make a national security case out of it, claiming Pedro refused to submit information regarding his contacts in the West Bank. I hope nobody is planning the same line with the Chomsky. Israel simply decided not to let him in because he is pro-Palestinian, like it does every day to many others. The only difference is that in those cases nobody alerts Reuters.

There is no arguing that Israel is now viewing certain ideas, not just actions, as existential threat, and is willing to make use of its powers in order to suppress them. It is important to understand this point: Some people think that the state made a stupid mistake today, when it chose to refuse Chomsky a visa. But That’s only true if you judge the affair in terms of actual security – then you conclude that making such a fuss over a speech in Ramallah by an aging linguistic that no one would even notice is pure madness. But if you are obsessed with the persecution of “dangerous ideas” and constantly searching for ideological menaces, then Chomsky is a threat. In this context, not allowing him to enter your country might be logical and even legal – again, if you consider Israel’s control of all entrances to the West bank legal – but it is also scary is hell.

7 Comments on “The Chomsky affair: Israel has showed the world today that the West Bank, not just Gaza, is under siege”

  1. 1 Ms Connie said at 1:01 pm on May 16th, 2010:

    The Israelis need to learn the definition of democracy. A totalitarian democracy is not a democracy and Israel is a theocracy, just like Iran is! The only difference is that Israel executes people with bombs and bullets in mass instead of ropes and hoists. By comparison, Israel makes Iran look like a bunch of angels!

  2. 2 ck said at 10:09 pm on May 16th, 2010:

    Oh Noam. What are we going to do with you? You do know that Democracies deny entry to people all the time, right? You do know that mere speech can easily become incitement to violence right? Holocaust deniers for instance are routinely denied entry into the US and Canada for instance. And there you go trotting out Prado, The-Most-Famous-Clown-In-Spain-That-Most-Spaniards-Have-Never-Heard-Of (thanks Haaretz!). Prior to his denial of entry, he claimed that the Jews (he said Jews) were committing Genocide against the Palestinians, that what was going on in the territories was a “New Holocaust.”

    Of course that’s total nonsense. The Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza between 1948 and 2005 increased 6 fold – evidence of either the most inept attempt at Genocide ever, or, uhm… no Genocide at all. But still – if you convince people that Israelis are Nazis, then there’s only one thing to do! Organize Partisan units, run to the forests, and kill as many Nazis as you can! No more marching like sheep into the uhm… non existent gas chambers! You don’t negotiate with Nazis! As Malik Ali has stated many times at UCSD and UCI, you don’t sit for tea and crumpets with Nazis! You physically annihilate them! So yeah, forget Prado the “world famous” Spanish Galician Clown.

    As for Chomsky, it looks like his denial of entry was a bureaucratic snafu. The reasons you offered for his denial were not official and came from him, not the Ministry of the Interior. Furthermore, all indications are that this might very well be remedied today and Bir Zeit University will get their Jew.

    And that’s a good thing. Israel has nothing to fear from Old Man Chomsky. He’s like a living, breathing anachronism, a modern day manifestation of that time when radical chic was the flavor of the moment for the limousine liberal set. They happily wrote checks for the Red Brigades and the Baader Meinhoff gang, they railed against the injustices of Western Hegemony but God forbid they should ever sell their fancy shmancy homes in Lexington and donate the proceeds to humanitarian aid. Western colonialism is a cancer on the world, but gosh darn, it is soooo comfy!

    I am opposed to Chomsky’s denial of entry into Israel and if he gets in, I am going to have to try and shlepp into Ramallah again to hear him speak. He’s a great linguist but a terrible political theoretician. I know this because I’ve heard him speak and read his writings. I wouldn’t want to deny anyone that privilege and I am pretty sure that Israel can handle having him here.

    But please don’t try to paint this as some sort of massive police state thing, where dissent is suppressed routinely and thoughtlessly. Given the situation, Israel’s security apparatus has acted with great restraint.

    Finally, the PA has a certain measure of autonomy, but they are not sovereign. That’s why Israel controls the borders. I look forward to final status talks and a negotiated and peaceful settlement as per SC242.

  3. 3 noam said at 10:46 pm on May 16th, 2010:

    CK: several remarks on what you wrote:

    You are almost contradicting yourself, saying both that Israel did not declare war on “dangerous ideas” and that it acted within its rights when preventing Chomsky from entering, and finally going on to say it was a burocratic mistake. If it was a mistake, how can it be justified because of what he said at the same time? And if Israel declared was on certain ideas, than the legality of the act doesn’t really matter for our debate. In Law school they say that when you present five arguments for the same action, it’s probably because you haven’t a real good one. But let’s go one by one:

    If Israel refused Chomsky entry because of his past declarations, you are proving my point, that it is an ideological refusal. I find it extremely worrying, especially when it comes next to so many other cases. Remember that this country is trying to make mentioning the Nakba illegal and talking about Apartheid just as bad. When you forbid ideas, it doesn’t stop in the border, nor with Arab citizens. BTW, I would have had Holocausts deniers enter Israel. I actually think it will be harder for them here than in any other place.

    If it was a low level decision that prevented him from entering its even worse, because it shows how further down the system these undemocratic behaviors goes.

    I read your post, btw. Your argument about everything you have trouble explaining here remains the same: “I don’t support it, but…” “it’s probably a mistake…”, “it’s a bad move, from the right intentions” it’s not that smart… etc. You not only refuse to assume responsibility as a writer (because you hold both ends at once, thus making it impossible to criticize you. You are both for having Chomsky enter and against it), but you also fail to see things as a system. This goes from entrance policy to the whole settlement issue, which just another mistake for you. You fail to see the nature what’s happening, and the toll it’s taking on the Israeli society, so you conclude it’s the Palestinian responsibility to make the necessary steps that will allow us out of the WB and except for that small business, it’s a picture perfect democracy. It is a legitimate way of facing reality – one that most Israelis will use – but I disagree with it.

    One last remark – refusing Chomsky to talk because he might incite people and by then cause them to become a threat to national security – thus making him a security threat himself – is one argument you better not make, as it can be taken very far. I guess you can make the same case against this blog, BTW. The whole incitement offense is a bad path for a democracy to march on, so in most places, unless there is a specific call for action, the democratic tendency is not to do anything. Not to mention the fat that this whole “incitement” business is applied only on one side in Israel, even though the right has showed his capacity for violence. But I guess this is one of these “mistakes” again.

  4. 4 noam said at 10:56 pm on May 16th, 2010:

    legal expert Boaz Okun put it better than me today in Yedioth: I am not talking about the stupidity of supplying ammunition to those who say that Israel is fascist, but rather about our concern that we may be becoming fascists

  5. 5 ck said at 12:32 am on May 17th, 2010:

    Noam, in the US, foreign Holocaust deniers are denied entry while citizens are free to deny whatever they like and march in Nazi uniforms. Under ordinary circumstances I am a staunch free speech advocate, but in times of war, do we really need to allow the enemy into our camp?

    Prado (not Pedro – you’d think with such a world renowned clown you could at least get his name right) is a foreign agitator with nothing to add to any positive discourse. If the security services felt that they ought to deny him entry then so be it. It’s not a free speech issue, it’s a security issue. If it was based solely on speech, I’d have let him in.

    That’s why I don’t mind Chomsky coming in, even though he has no absolute right to do so. It’s clear the decision was a bureaucratic snafu as opposed to a systematic suppression of ideas. The extreme left in this country is more a victim of apathy than it is of some concerted systematic plan by the authorities to shut it down. No one’s buying what you’re selling. But do by all means feel free to keep selling it!

    I have never said that Israel is a picture perfect anything. And while I strive every day to make this a better place, such efforts are not aided by the false-alarmism, obfuscation and intellectual dishonesty that are the calling cards of the extremists. In this respect I make no distinction between the “right” and the “left.”

  6. 6 ck said at 12:35 am on May 17th, 2010:

    Sorry man, I’d chat some more but I have to run to Hebrew U. and check out the anti-homophobia day events there.

  7. 7 noam said at 12:44 am on May 17th, 2010:

    CK: I wonder what would you consider “real alarm”.