Haaretz has weighed in with a cogent defense of Norman Finkelstein’s right to travel to Israel in Who’s Afraid of Finkelstein?
In Finkelstein’s case, the disturbing issue is neither the legality of keeping him out nor the authority to do so, but the reasonableness of the decision. 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…
True, the right to enter Israel is not guaranteed to noncitizens, but the 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.
…It is…reasonable to assume that Finkelstein is persona non grata, and that the Shin Bet, whose influence has increased to frightening proportions, latched onto his meetings with Hezbollah operatives in order to punish him.
And the decision is all the more surprising when one recalls the ease with which right-wing activists from the Meir Kahane camp – the kind whose activities pose a [real] security threat – are able to enter the country.
There has been a disturbing new development in the online discussion of the Finkelstein affair. At Mondoweiss, Bill Pearlman, writing under the pseudonym, Sword of Gideon, wrote this:
“It’s too bad that they didn’t shoot the scumbag.”
I also note that Finkelstein, at his own site, features this personal e mail from Pearlman:
Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2008 17:46:22 -0400
Aren’t you dead yet. Bill Pearlman
I know Bill to be an ignorant, essentially harmless bigot. So the point isn’t that Bill might perpetrate violence against Finkelstein. Rather, there are Kahanist zealots out there who would target fellow Jews for violent attack. I’m not sure how much we should worry for Finkelstein’s safety. But the problem with odious rulings like the one made by the Shin Bet is that it declares open season for Jewish wingnuts on the victim.
That’s all the more reason that Finkelstein, in this particular fight, deserves the support of all Jewish progressives, including those who disagree with his political views.
My own Comment is Free piece will be published at the Guardian 7AM eastern time (Tuesday).