Sunday, May 23, 2010

Protecting Israelis' existence from Noam Chomsky

The New York Times article about Chomsky's being refused entry to the Israeli-occupied West Bank last weekend quotes an opposition member of the Knesset who supports the decision:

"This is a decision of principle between the democratic ideal -- and we all want freedom of speech and movement -- and the need to protect our existence," said Otniel Schneller, of the centrist Kadima party, on Israel Radio. "Let's say he came to lecture at Birzeit. What would he say? That Israel kills Arabs, that Israel is an apartheid state?"

In another three months, Mr. Schneller went on, some Israeli would be standing over her son's grave, the victim of incitement "in the name of free speech." People like Professor Chomsky, he added, do not have to be granted permission to enter.

Mr. Schneller makes a good point that we need to remember: the only reason why people at Birzeit in Ramallah might think that "Israel kills Arabs, that Israel is an apartheid state" is that outside agitators like Chomsky tell them so. Chomsky hasn't been to Israel or its occupied territories since 1997, but his audience members live there year-round. It's not their everyday experience that makes them think Israel kills Arabs or that Israel is an apartheid state; it's only their irrational hatred of Israel that makes them suggestible to incitement.