Norman Finkelstein Banned from Israel

From Salon:

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.


5 Responses

  1. Truth be told, I’ve sort of had it in for Finkelstein ever since he called Elie Wiesel “the lead clown of the Holocaust circus”. I don’t care how one feels about Israel, the man doesn’t deserve that kind of disrespect.

    That being said, I’d always believed Israel to at least outwardly be somewhat of a free society, but it just goes to show where the Olmert government’s loyalties lie. I find this pretty sad and disappointing.

  2. Yeah, the “clown” comment turned me off to Finkelstein – I just decided to refrain from commentary in the post because I haven’t actually read his books.

  3. True, the issue at hand isn’t whether or not our comfort with his writing merits censure of this sort, especially when we’re both pretty unfamiliar with it. I suppose it’s possible one could make the argument it’s hate speech and work from that, but I don’t think I’ve ever known that was Israel’s MO, to be honest.

  4. I think Finkelstein has important things to say and was unfairly treated both in Israel and at DePaul (DePaul’s firing of Larudee, whose only shortcoming was her defense of Finkelstein, is even worse), but his over-the-top tone makes him hard (for me) to take. There are incisive critics of Israeli policy and of its right-wing U.S. apologists who don’t go yelling Clown, Madwoman, Nazi, and the like at the drop of a hat.

  5. […] 5, 2008 by The Girl Detective I’ve been giving more thought lately to Israel’s deportation of Norman Finkelstein, and I’m struck again by this […]

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