Recently I learned that Norman Finkelstein was denied entry to Israel and banned from coming there for ten years.
Reading about this, I thought of Antonio Gramsci, a leader of the Italian Communist Party and a member of the Parliament, who had been arrested by Mussolini’s Fascist government in 1926. At his trial, Gramsci’s prosecutor appealed to the judge: “We must prevent this brain from functioning for twenty years.”
Norman Finkelstein may not be allowed in Israel, but in doing so the Israeli authorities will have done nothing to keep his brain from functioning during the next decade. He will surely continue championing the justice of the Palestinian cause, exposing stupidity and mendacity, and writing and speaking with great respect for the truth.
The ban will not dampen Finkelstein’s spirits because he will be unable to schmooze with the Israeli literati or enjoy the night life in Tel Aviv. But it will prevent him from seeing old friends in the West Bank who could surely offer him succor, relief, and companionship, no small things, given the amount of abuse and vitriol directed at him in recent years.
7 June 2008