The best line on the Noam Chomsky affair? It comes from Atlantic blogger Jeff Goldberg, who came up with this gem: "Real democracies aren’t afraid of ridiculous men like Noam Chomsky."
The stupidist line? Otniel Schneller of the Kadima party said “This is a decision of principle between the democratic ideal — and we all want freedom of speech and movement — and the need to protect our existence,” according to yesterday’s New York Times.
Chomsky was supposed to speak at Birzeit University in the West Bank, and apparently some Israeli officials were afraid the 81 year old Harvard linguist might cause another Intifadah.
Well, I’ve heard Chomsky speak, and I have news for you guys; he’s more likely to cause an epidemic of narcolepsy.
Now, thanks to some clever Israeli bureaucrats, it’s an International Incident and something its critics will use to demonstrate that Israel’s democracy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Chomsky will speak anyway, via closed circuit TV, and the clownish decision to keep him out means his speech will get ten times the attention.