JERUSALEM (JTA) — Noam Chomsky will lecture to Bir Zeit University students via video conference from Amman after he was denied entry into Israel and the West Bank.
Chomsky, 81, an American Jewish linguist who is a fierce critic of Israeli and American policies, was detained Sunday for four hours by Israeli security officials at the Allenby Bridge entry point from Jordan. The professor emeritus from MIT was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah, in the West Bank.
Though Israeli media have reported that Chomsky would likely be allowed to cross into Israel should he try to cross again at Allenby, he decided not to try, believing that Israeli officials are "playing games," Haaretz reported Tuesday.
His video conference lecture also will 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," ACRI attorney Oded Feller said. "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."