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.
Embarrassingly, I’m only superficially familiar with Finkelstein’s work, although some of the things he’s said make me very uncomfortable. But even if he were a frothing-at-the-mouth suicidal anti-Israel self-hating Jew, this would still be preposterous. There is no evidence that Finkelstein poses a security threat; in fact, the Israeli government admitted outright that they deported him because of his political views. According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli officials stated that “the decision to deport Finkelstein was connected to his anti-Zionist opinions and fierce public criticism of Israel around the world.”
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said it best, so I’ll just turn it over to them:
“The decision to prevent someone from voicing their opinions by arresting and deporting them is typical of a totalitarian regime,” said the association’s lawyer, Oded Peler.
“A democratic state, where freedom of expression is the highest principle, does not shut out criticism or ideas just because they are uncomfortable for its authorities to hear. It confronts those ideas in public debate.”
Thanks to Tomemos for the link.
Filed under: Israel