Israel is always touted as the only true democracy in the Middle East. Its actions the other day in banning an American academic who has been critical of Israel's policies from both entering the country on a visit, and a further 1o years, is hardly the action of a truly democratic State. But, then, Palestinians in Israel have for years not been accorded equal right on a range of matters.
Glenn Greenwald, writing on Salon, in "Israel imposes a 10-year ban on American critic of Israeli policies" takes up the issue:
"On Friday, Israeli security forces, Shin Bet, detained Norman Finkelstein when he tried to enter Israel, kept him in an airport holding cell for 24 hours, ordered him deported from the country, and then imposed a 10-year ban on his entry. Finkelstein, the son of a Holocaust survivor, is a Jewish-American author and academic who has frequently criticized the Israeli Government and provoked extreme animosity among right-wing factions in the U.S. He had flown to Israel 15 times previously without incident and was never charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime.
This morning, I interviewed Finkelstein regarding this episode and related issues (the audio for which is here). I also interviewed Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, whose animosity towards Finkelstein is intense and long-standing. Dershowitz, to his credit (and, given the below-described events, somewhat ironically) was quite critical of Israel's exclusion of Finkelstein. The full interview with Dershowitz can be heard here.
This morning, the Israeli daily newspaper, Haaretz, published an Editorial emphatically criticizing the government's exclusion of Finkelstein, rejecting the notion that Finkelstein posed any remote security threat and noting: "Considering his unusual and extremely critical views, one cannot avoid the suspicion that refusing to allow him to enter Israel was a punishment rather than a precaution." Haaretz further highlighted the danger of allowing the Government to suppress viewpoints it dislikes:
"[T]he right of Israeli citizens to hear unusual views is one that should be fought for. It is not for the government to decide which views should be heard here and which ones should not.
The decision to ban Finkelstein hurts us more than it hurts him."