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Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 2:15 pm

Chomsky Denied Entry to West Bank; Israeli Authorities Deny Involvement

By Sara Peck

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Israeli authorities denied Noam Chomsky entry to the West Bank on Monday, the New York Times reported. Chomsky, an 81-year-old MIT professor (emeritus), prolific political writer and In These Times contributor, was invited to speak at Birzeit, a Palestinian university.

The Israeli government denied that the matter was because of Chomsky’s vocal criticism of Israeli and American policies regarding Palestine. "There is no change in our policy," Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the New York Times. "The idea that Israel is preventing people from entering whose opinions are critical of the state is ludicrous; it is not happening. This was a mishap. A guy at the border overstepped his authority."

But Chomsky, who is Jewish and lived on a kibbutz in the 1950s, told Al Jazeera that border security personnel were taking orders from superiors, suggesting that the action was approved by the Israeli government. He said he and his daughter, who was also denied entry, were interviewed at length by authorities.

The Association of Civil Rights told the Jerusalem Post that people with left-wing views are often denied entry.

"There were two basic points," Chomsky told Al Jazeera. "One was that the government of Israel does not like the kinds of things I say - which puts them into the category of I suppose every other government in the world. The second was that they seemed upset about the fact that I was just taking an invitation from Birzeit and I had no plans to go on to speak in Israeli universities, as I have done many times in the past, but not this time."

Sara Peck, a spring 2010 In These Times editorial intern, is a Northwestern University student studying journalism and political science.

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