Mustafa Barghouthi And Noam Chomsky
MP Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, co-hosted a press conference in Ramallah today with Professor Noam Chomsky, speaking from Amman, Jordan. Professor Chomsky, who along with his daughter was prevented from entering the West Bank yesterday by Israeli authorities, could not recall "comparable actions outside of totalitarian states". Dr. Barghouthi denounced Chomsky’s treatment, saying it "represented facist tendancies" of the Israeli government.
Professor Chomsky had been due to deliver addresses at Birzeit University, as well as meeting with public officials and visiting popular protest sites in Bilin and Nilin. Speaking via phone link from Amman he described five hours of interrogation, during which he was informed the questions were coming directly from the Ministry of Interior. Chomsky explained the two recurrent problems the army had with his visit.
"The first point was that they dont like my opinions about Israeli policies, which is true of every other country but has never stopped me coming and giving lectures before."
"The second, most crucial point was that they didnt like the fact that I was visiting the West Bank but then not going on to speak in Israel. The issue was going to Birzeit, just as I would any other university, without specific Israeli approval. I would say that is very unusual, perhaps unique, outside totalitarian states."
Chomsky went on to compare the incident with the only previous instance of his being barred from entering a country, which occurred while attempting to visit dissident prisoners in the former Czechoslovakia, during the Soviet era in 1968. "But that was an overtly political act" he explained. Chomsky has never before been prevented from delivering lectures around the world, including previous visits to Israel and the West bank.
On behalf of the Palestinian public, Dr. Barghouthi thanked Professor Chomsky for his "stand in support of the cause of justice in Palestine". He denounced the "stupid act" of Israeli authorities, which represented "facist tendancies and oppression of freedom of expression."
"In our opinion the decision is unacceptable and makes no sense. Professor Chomsky is the most important linguist in the world today, a lecturer at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), is himself Jewish and holds an American passport. Israel is telling us and the world that no one can visit or work here in the West Bank without permission from their military authorities. We will not accept the establishment of such a precedent. It is a very dangerous regression and we will struggle against it in every possible way."
Dr. Barghouthi went on to criticise a lack of international intervention. "Israel would not have gone so far had the international community taken proper measures against its policies. We think it was inappropriate to accept Israel into the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) because such acceptance is like a reward. The world has to revise its policies toward Israel for the sake for the sake of both Israelis and Palestinians, because what we see today is the consolidation of an apartheid, totalitarian system that is dangerous to the whole of humanity."