(AFP) – May 18, 2010
BIR ZEIT, West Bank — Renowned Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky, who was barred from the West Bank by Israel earlier this week, on Tuesday delivered a lecture to Palestinian students by video link from Jordan.
Around 100 students packed into a room at Bir Zeit University near the West Bank city of Ramallah to watch the lecture, delivered by live-link from the Jordanian capital, Amman.
Chomsky had been due to give the lecture in person on Monday, but was stopped from entering the West Bank at the Israeli-controlled crossing from Jordan.
After hours of questioning by border officials, Chomsky's passport was stamped with "Denied Entry" and he was sent away.
Israel's interior ministry insisted the incident was a "misunderstanding" and said the 81-year-old professor had not been blacklisted, while a senior government source described the situation as "a total cockup".
Although Israeli officials insisted he would be permitted to cross the border, Chomsky discovered on Monday there was no "official" guarantee he would be allowed in, so he decided to give the lecture by video link, the Haaretz daily reported.
Speaking to the paper about his lengthy interrogation at the border, Chomsky said he was told: "Israel does not like what you say."
Preventing him from entering the West Bank was "tantamount to boycotting Bir Zeit University," said Chomsky, who opposes a general boycott on Israel.
He told the paper that Israel's behaviour reminded him of that of South Africa in the 1960s, when it realised it was already considered a pariah, but thought it would resolve the problem with better public relations.
Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at the US Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a prominent critic of US foreign policy. He has also frequently spoken out against Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.
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