JERUSALEM (AFP) – Renowned Jewish-American scholar and political activist Noam Chomsky said he was barred from entering Israel and the West Bank on Sunday to speak at a Palestinian university.
Chomsky had been invited to speak on Monday at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah, but was stopped from entering the West Bank at the Israeli-controlled crossing from Jordan, he told Israel’s Channel 10 television.
“I went with my daughter and two old friends. We went in the normal way to the border where we were all interrogated. They were particularly interested in me,” he told Channel 10, speaking from Jordan.
Chomsky said the Israeli border officials were “very polite” as they “transmitted inquiries from the ministry of the interior.”
However, he was denied entry because “the government did not like the kinds of things I say and they did not like that I was only talking at Bir Zeit and not at an Israeli university too,” he said.
“I asked them if they could find any government in the world that likes the things I say,” Chomsky said.
A spokeswoman from Israel’s interior ministry, which controls the country’s borders, said Chomsky was still at the border and may yet be given permission to enter the West Bank.
“We are checking it with security officials” Sabin Hadad told AFP.
She said the decision not to allow him in appeared to be “some kind of a misunderstanding,” and added Chomsky was “not on any (black) list.”
Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghuti, who had invited Chomsky to speak at the university, said the scholar had been detained at the border for five hours.
“This act shows the nature of the Israeli government that is against freedom of speech, particularly from such a noted international figure like Chomsky,” said Barghuti.
Chomsky, 81, is a professor of linguistics at the US Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a prominent critic of US foreign policy. He has also frequently spoken out against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.