The sovereign can no longer say, "You shall think as I do on pain of death;" but he says, "You are free to think differently from me, and to retain your life, your property, and all that you possess; but if such be your determination, you are henceforth an alien among your people."

(Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835)

Friday, 21 May 2010

Chomsky, Israel, Palestine and me

The reports that US Professor Noam Chomsky was denied entry into Israel are somewhat inaccurate. In fact, Prof. Chomsky wanted to enter the occupied Palestinian Territories and give a speech at the Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, the provisional capital of the Palestinian Territories. The difference between Israel and the Palestinian Territories seem to be unclear to quite a few Israeli border guards, as I can report from personal experience.

When I was travelling from Amman to Jerusalem a couple of years ago, I was asked by the border guard why I wanted to travel to Israel. I felt the need to explain that it wasn't my intention to travel to Israel, but to Palestine. As a consequence, I spend the next five hours or so enjoying a nice conversation with a very attractive female Israeli officer who was very interested in all aspects of my professional as well as personal life.

She asked me to strip down to my underwear, and she was only lucky that I'm so progressive and did not insist on a male guard to supervise my undressing. In the meantime, her colleagues search my bags. They performed their job very thoroughly, which confronted my with the unusual challenge of how to get my tooth past back in the tube.

Apparently, I made a good impression upon the border guards, because they let me, as opposed to Prof. Chomsky, continue my journey. The inconvenience to find a taxi and pay for the ride to Jerusalem, the last bus was long gone, was dwarfed by my gratitude towards the Israeli border guards to let me enter Palestine.

1 comment:

  1. Galsan Tschinag23 May 2010 at 14:09

    This is quite a self-indulgent post for a blog covering issues in security and defence! Did you not think that such a statement to the border guards would antagonise them? Did you say it deliberately, nonetheless? If that's the case, then you should have expected to be treated in this way!