A short list of Israel’s past unwelcome guests
Gunter Grass is not the first prominent figure to be declared unwelcome in Israel, over the years several other famous visitors have been granted similar treatment.
April 2012. On Sunday, Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared the German author Gunter Grass persona non grata in Israel,after he published a poem claiming that Israel is a threat to world peace.
“Gunter’s poems are an attempt to fan the flames of hatred against the State of Israel and the Israeli people, and thus to advance the ideas to which he was publicly partner in the past, when he wore the uniform of the SS,” Yishai said, adding, “If Gunter wants to continue publicizing his distorted and false works, I suggest he do it from Iran, where he’ll find a supportive audience.”
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said the decision was made in accordance with the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, and that Grass wore an SS uniform in the past.
May 2010. American linguist Noam Chomsky was denied entry into the West Bank and Israel when he arrived from Amman to the Allenby border crossing,along with his daughter and two American citizens, an Arab-American mathematics professor and a professor of international relations. At the crossing, Chomsky was questioned about his identification as an anarchist and was prevented for entering the West Bank, where he was scheduled to give a lecture at Bir Zeit University.
The Interior Ministry later insisted the decision to bar Chomsky’s entry was the result of a technical error, as responsibility for coordinating the entrance of foreign citizens into the West Bank lies with the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories at the Defense Ministry.
“Denying me entry into the West Bank is a minor event, but it is significant because it shows how irrational Israel’s actions are,” said Chomsky of the event.
May 2010. Ivan Prado, Spain’s most famous clown, was accused of ties to Palestinian terrorist organizations in the West Bank and refused entry into Israel, after being interrogated at the airport for six hours by Shin Bet and Interior Ministry officials. Israel’s Foreign Ministry later said the episode caused serious damage to Israel’s image in Spain.
May 2008. Israel bars entry to American-Jewish academic Norman Finkelstein, at the Shin Bet’s orders. Finkelstein, a prominent critic of Israel’s occupation, was arrested at the airport after arriving from Amsterdam. He was interrogated for several hours, held in a detention facility at the airport and then put on a flight back to Amsterdam. He later said he was forbidden to return to Israel for a period of ten years.
June 2004. Interior Minister Avraham Poraz prevents the entry of British journalist Peter Hounam. Poraz said that according to information provided by the Shin Bet, Hounam exchanged letters with and sought to interview Mordechai Vanunu, a former nuclear technician imprisoned by Israel for years for revealing details of Israel’s nuclear program to the British media.
Hounam later said Israel should be ashamed for arresting him, adding that he had been held in a “dungeon with excrement on the walls.”
(www.haaretz.com / 09.04.2012)