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Israel: Chomsky ban ‘ig mistake

19 May 2010 4:26

The Israeli government has said it made a “big mistake” by barring Noam Chomsky, an American academic and political activist, from entering the occupied West Bank earlier this week.

The interior ministry said on Tuesday that a low-level border clerk had wrongfully denied him entry, and that he was now free to enter.

“He should have been allowed in, it was a big mistake,” Sabine Haddad, a spokeswoman for the ministry, told the Associated Press news agency.

“The clerk for some reason thought there was an issue of letting him in so denied him access. If he wants to come to the border he will be allowed in.”

Chomsky was barred by Israeli immigration officials as he attempted to cross the Allenby Bridge from Jordan on Sunday.

The Jewish-American linguistics professor, who frequently speaks out against Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories, had been scheduled to give a lecture at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank

And despite Haddad’s statement, Chomsky said there was no “official” guarantee he would be allowed in and so decided to give the lecture by video link from Amman, Jordan’s capital, on Tuesday.

About 100 students attended the video link lecture at Bir Zeit University near the city of Ramallah.

Chomsky said he was told during his interrogation at the border that “Israel does not like what you say”.

The academic said preventing him from entering the West Bank was “tantamount to boycotting Bir Zeit University”.

Chomsky, who opposes a general boycott of Israel, told Israel’s Haarestz newspaper that Israel’s behaviour reminded him of South Africa in the 1960s, which thought it could counter its international pariah status through better public relations.

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