Over the years, Chomsky, a self-styled anarchist, has been a virulent critic of the Jewish state and a staunch defender of Palestinians. Among other things, he has written, “supporters of Israel are in reality supporters of its moral degeneration and probable ultimate destruction.” The one-time kibbutznik has also stated that there should be no such thing as a Jewish state — or Christian or Islamic states for that matter.
Chomsky, to put it bluntly, is against all forms of authority, unless they can be justified.
OK, fine. Not every Jew is required to be a stalwart Zionist, and we have no desire to debate Chomsky’s positions here. There’s an old saying familiar to newspapermen: Never get into an argument (only the word is more colorful than “argument”) with someone who buys ink by the gallon. The same could be said for someone possessing a doctorate in linguistics.
That said, why Israeli officials would detain Chomsky, as they did for four hours Sunday when he tried to enter the West Bank, and deny him entry to the territory, defies logic. Chomsky had been scheduled to speak at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah on “America and the World” and related topics.
Instead, he delivered his lectures to the university by video conferencing, which was broadcast live on Al Jazeera Television.
We wonder how that was better than just letting Chomsky pass, give his lectures and go home. Instead of being a mere annoyance, he suddenly became a symbol of Israeli efforts to repress free speech.
Please, no letters. We know Israel’s is the most democratic state in the Middle East. But that makes this Chomsky affair all the more bizarre.
Israel is a country where hostile Arab critics are actually members of the Knesset (parliament), where people of all political stripes, including anti-Zionist Jews can, and do, speak their piece.
So why muzzle Chomsky?
According to the Jerusalem Post, Sabine Hadad, a spokeswoman from the Interior Ministry, called the decision to deny Chomsky entry a “misunderstanding.”
That’s hard to believe, considering that Chomsky was held for four hours. That’s plenty of time for someone higher up to recognize a public relations disaster in the making.
We don’t subscribe to Chomsky’s views, but he’s no threat to Israeli security. Now, however, he’s a rock star to Israel’s critics, or worse, a martyr. Coming so soon after the Interior Ministry announced a controversial housing project for East Jerusalem while Vice President Biden was in the country, we hope the prime minister takes a hard look at how that department is being managed, or mismanaged.