By Globe Staff
Noam Chomsky's quest to speak at a West Bank university remained in limbo today, after Israeli officials denied him entry on Sunday.
The 81-year-old Chomsky, an outspoken voice on the political left and a fierce critic of Israeli foreign policy, had been scheduled to deliver a lecture today at Birzeit University in Ramallah. He said authorities did not provide an explanation for barring him, but told him they would send a written account to the American Embassy.
Today, his daughter, Aviva, a professor at Salem State College who was also denied entry, said by e-mail that they were in Jordan awaiting word from Israeli officials on whether they would be allowed into the West Bank.
In an e-mail to the Globe on Sunday, Chomsky, a renowned linguistics professor at MIT, said he believed he was being singled out for his criticism of Israel, as well as his plans to speak at a Palestinian university. “They are carrying out an action of a kind that I’ve never heard of before, except in totalitarian states,’’ he said.
But The New York Times reported today that Israelis officials seemed to be miffed by the decision to bar Chomsky, who is Jewish. They said it had been made by an Interior Ministry official at the Jordan-West Bank border and did not represent policy.
“There is no change in our policy,” Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the 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.”
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