Saturday, May 24, 2008

No Entry for Norman

'SECURITY' RISK? Professor Norman Finkelstein

ISRAEL is always trying to attract tourists, and Jewish people are used to being told its their duty to visit if not settle. The state has a Law of Return supposedly guaranteeing our right to do the latter. But one man was refused entry on Friday and told he's likely to be banned for at least a decade.

He is not a criminal - Israel has welcomed some of them and their money(remember mobster Mayer Lansky?) - nor a terrorist (like the late Meir Kahane). Just a writer and academic. He was not planning to spend time in Israel, but passing through to the Occupied Palestinian territories - a reminder once again of how the Israeli state acts as a jailer, deciding who can enter or leave, and what visitors are allowed.

Professer Norman Finkelstein, a Jew and the son of Holocaust survivors, was barred entry to the Jewish state as soon he landed at Ben Gurion international airport, early on Friday morning.

The professor, who has exposed Zionist falsifications of Palestine history and supported Palestinian rights, was told he would not be allowed into the country on 'security' grounds, according to his lawyer, Michael Sfard.
'This usually means a 10-year ban on entry,' Sfard added.

Finkelstein angered many people by accusing Zionist organisations of exploiting the Nazi Holocaust, both politically and financially. But he is not a Holocaust denier or revisionist, as some of his detractors have slanderously claimed (for instance Alex Brummer in the Jewish Chronicle recently, who even seems to confuse Finkelstein with David Irving, whether deliberately or through ignorance.) The US professor had to give up his post at the Catholic De Paul University last year, after a concerted campaign against him by right-wing Zionists. This ranged from Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz to some campaigners in California who fraudulently added names (including mine!) to their petition, accusing De Paul of being antisemitic for hiring the Jew Norman Finkelstein.

I'm told Finkelstein has said he does not want too much fuss over his detention to divert attention from more serious abuses and killing in the Gaza strip. However people can protest to:

Minister of Interior Mr. Meir SHEETRIT Israeli Ministry of the Interior 2 Kaplan St., Qiryat Ben-Gurion P.O. Box 6158, 91061 Jerusalem Tel. +972-2-670-1411 / +972-2-629-4722 Fax: +972-2-670-1628 or Mr. Meir SHEETRIT's numbers at the Knesset Telephone 1: +972-2-640-8410 Telephone 2: +972-2- 640-8409 Fax: +972-2- 640-8920 Email:

My friend Brian Robinson has written to the Israeli Interior Minister to protest the ban:

Mr. Meir Sheetrit, Minister

Israeli Ministry of the Interior
Fax: 00 972-2-670-1628

23rd May 2008

Dear Mr Sheetrit,

I write to protest at the arrest and ordered deportation of Dr Norman Finkelstein, as reported some hours ago. I understand that Dr Finkelstein was not even going to Israel at the time, but was on his way to the Occupied Territories. (You may dispute that nomenclature but in the eyes of the international community, that is what they are.)

I understand from news reports that the academic has been told that he has been “banned from Israel for 10 years”. If so, this is an outrage and quite scandalous.

Yes, Dr Finkelstein has been critical, as have many Jews including myself, of many aspects of Israeli policy in relation to the Palestinian people, and especially recently in connection with the ongoing siege on Gaza, but does Israel now consider it a crime to be critical of it?

I read that this action has been taken on ‘security’ grounds. Dr Finkelstein’s only weapons are words: is the state so terrified of his words that it must ban the author of them?

Almost everything that your government is currently doing “for security”, is not only failing to enhance security, but sullies the name of Israel and I fear threatens diaspora Jewry with dangerous reflections of that bad name.

Can an ordinary world citizen make a demand of a state? Yes, if it claims to be not only a democracy, but “the only democracy in the middle east”: I demand that you release Dr Finkelstein forthwith, allow him to proceed to his destination unhindered, and revoke any ban on his future entry to Israel.

Yours faithfully

Dr G B Robinson

See also Mark Elf's blog for comment on Finkelstein and Brumner remarks.

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