Israel Refuses Entry to Norman Finkelstein

May 25, 2008

Jerusalem — A controversial American political-science scholar who is a noted critic of Israeli occupation policies has been refused entry to Israel and deported.

Norman Finkelstein was denied tenure at DePaul University and resigned following a storm of criticism over his writings, including a 2005 book called Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. He was detained on arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv, on Friday and deported after several hours of interrogation by Israeli officials. He was barred from returning to Israel for 10 years.

Israel’s Shin Bet secret service said Mr. Finkelstein “is not permitted to enter Israel because of suspicions involving hostile elements in Lebanon,” and because he “did not give a full accounting to interrogators with regard to these suspicions.” Mr. Finkelstein, who met with Hezbollah officials in Lebanon during a recent visit to that country, denied the accusations but decided not to appeal the decision. He was held in a cell at the airport and put on a plane to Amsterdam, where he had embarked en route to Israel.

“I’ve always supported a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. I’m not an enemy of Israel,” he told the Israeli daily Haaretz. —Matthew Kalman