Media Blog

Israel and Noam Chomsky: Top world news?

What has been described as an “overzealous clerk” at Israel’s border crossing with Jordan refused to allow Noam Chomsky, the anti-Israel American-Jewish academic, and darling of the international Far Left, to enter the country. Chomsky had been invited by Palestinians to lecture at Bir Zeit, one of the West Bank’s most radical universities, where incitement is rife against Israel and against Jews in general.

Israel has barred two other prominent American Jews from entering in recent months — Professor Richard Falk and Norman Finkelstein. In Falk’s and Finkelstein’s cases both had agitated in a way that could help terrorist groups and adversely affect Israel’s national security (in Finkelstein’s case arising in part from his liaisons with Hizbullah on visits to Lebanon).

Their language is also notorious. Last year, as I pointed out at the time, Norman Finkelstein told The Tehran Times that Israel is a “vandal state,” an “insane state,” a “lunatic state,” a “terrorist state,” a “satanic state” from “the boils of hell” which “is committing a holocaust in Gaza.”

Although Chomsky has made many odious political pronouncements, and his seeming justification for various massacres during the twentieth century, notably those carried out by Communists, is repugnant, his agitation against Israel is not in the same league as Falk’s and Finkelstein’s. It was clearly a mistake of Israel to refuse him entry, as indeed the Israeli government acknowledged yesterday, saying Chomsky would be welcome if he returned.

TOP WORLD NEWS?

Nevertheless, given how much else is happening in the world, it is still an amazing judgment by news editors to lead their world news pages with Chomsky’s non-entry into Israel as The Times of London, The New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune, and other papers did yesterday. (The International Herald Tribune printed a further editorial on it today, calling the treatment of Chomsky “outrageous” and saying “Israel has lost its last remnants of tolerance” — I don’t recall them ever calling America’s killing of civilians in Afghanistan and elsewhere “outrageous”.)

Israel’s interior ministry said the official at the border crossing who had refused Chomsky entry was being reprimanded — not that most international papers mentioned this in their often hysterical stories yesterday about Israel’s behavior.

“There is no change in our policy,” said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The idea that Israel is preventing people from entering whose opinions are critical of the state is ludicrous; it is not happening. This was a mishap. A guy at the border overstepped his authority.”

After being barred from entering, Chomsky was quoted as comparing Israel with “Stalin’s regime.”

As everyone knows (perhaps even Chomsky) Stalin murdered tens of millions of innocent people.

ELTON JOHN BANNED FROM EGYPT FOR BEING GAY

In contrast to the breaking news surrounding Chomsky, very few Western news outlets reported on the banning two weeks ago of British pop star Elton John from performing at a private concert in Egypt for being gay. The news was widely reported in the Middle East and by international agencies like the DPA. Elton John has been forced to call off his concert there by the government-controlled Egyptian Musician Union, but will still perform in Israel, where gays are welcome.

There has barely been a peep of protest about the Egyptian decision from his fellow pop stars, including fellow British pop star, Elvis Costello, who did however this week call off his concerts in Israel on June 30 and July 1 following pressure from anti-Israeli activists in Britain.

The Facebook page for Elvis Costello already includes remarks from people criticizing him for the decision.

Tom Gross — Tom Gross is a former Middle East correspondent for the London Sunday Telegraph and the New York Daily News.

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