JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jewish-American professor Noam Chomsky was 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 Bir Zeit University near Ramallah.
An Israeli inspector reportedly told Chomsky that the U.S. Embassy would receive an explanation in writing, 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.
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, Sabine Hadad told the Jerusalem Post that if the IDF’s Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories oks Chomsky’s visit then he will be granted entry.
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."