Sheizaf: Chomsky affair demonstrates that the West Bank, not just Gaza, is under siege
Cross posted from Promised Land.
Much 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. From 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 people realize the PR damage caused 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 can leave or enter.
When the Spanish clown Ivan Pedro was denied entry by the Shabak 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 an existential threat, and is willing to make full 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 deny entry to Chomsky. 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 linguist 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 access to the West Bank legal — but it is also scary as hell.