Jerusalem — Jewish-American professor Noam Chomsky will lecture to Bir Zeit University students via video conference from Amman, after being denied entry into Israel and the West Bank.
Chomsky, 81, a frequent critic of Israeli and American policies, was detained for four hours by Israeli security officials at the Allenby Bridge entry point from Jordan on Sunday. The professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was scheduled to deliver a lecture at the Palestinian Bir Zeit University near Ramallah.
Though Israeli media have reported that Chomsky would likely be allowed to cross into Israel should he try to cross at Allenby again, he decided not to try, believing that Israeli officials are “playing games,” Haaretz reported on Tuesday.
In addition to delivering his lecture by video conference, it will also be broadcast live on Al Jazeera television, according to Haaretz.
Ynet reported that Chomsky was told he was refused entry due to his political opinions, by order of senior Israeli Interior Ministry officials.
“This very unusual behavior only happens in totalitarian states,” Chomsky told Al-Jazeera.
Sabine Hadad, a spokeswoman from the Interior Ministry, told the Jerusalem Post that the decision to deny Chomsky entry was a “misunderstanding,” the newspaper reported late Sunday.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel on Sunday strongly condemned the decision to deny Chomsky entry from Jordan to the West Bank.
“The decision to prevent an individual from expressing his or her views by denying entry is characteristic of a totalitarian regime,” said ACRI Attorney Oded Feller. “A democratic state, which considers freedom of expression a guiding principle, does not close itself off to criticism or uncomfortable notions, and does not refuse entry to visitors whose views it does not accept, but rather deals with them through public discourse.”