When your country is under attack, common sense means that enemies aren't welcome to visit.
Our era loves abstract language, and words like "attack" often signify anything but their primary meaning. A recent editorial in The Independent of England, for instance, referred to a think tank's "ideological attack" on British trade policy ("Fair trade is growing–and working," May 24).
Israel does not live in abstraction. Since its restoration in 1948, foreign and domestic enemies have committed violence against Israelis with the goal of conquering the nation.
By their own perverse admission, these enemies define their “liberation” as Israel's destruction. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar recently commented, “After we defeat the Zionists we will persecute them… we will persecute them to eternity, and the sun of the freedom and independence of the Palestinians will burn all of the Zionists.”
Pursuant to incinerating the Zionists and perpetrating a Middle Eastern holocaust, Arabs in the Gaza Strip regularly launch rockets against Israeli civilians. These rockets have murdered children like Dorit Benisian, women like Shirel Friedman, and men like Roni Yihye.
This is how Israel is under attack.
So, when a notorious enemy of Israel recently tried to enter the country, Israel made a logical decision: deport him.
To his credit, the American author and ex-professor Norman Finkelstein makes his support for Israel's enemies obvious. In 2006, Israel fought Hezbollah in Lebanon to stop its constant rocket attacks against northern Israelis. On July 29 of that year, Finkelstein gave a speech in New York City where he said, “Right now, and I say it publicly, right now we are all Hezbollah. All of us.”
To prevent any ambiguity, he added, “Every victory of Hezbollah over the [Israeli] vandals and the marauders, the invaders and the murderers; every victory by Hezbollah over Israel is also a victory for liberty and a victory for freedom.”
This January, Finkelstein praised Hezbollah’s “courage” on Lebanese television and commented, “I have no problem saying that I do want to express solidarity with them.” He also met with members of Hezbollah including southern Lebanon commander Nabil Kaouk, who has called Americans “all murderers and criminals.”
In February, Finkelstein appeared on the London-based Arabic television station Al-Hiwar. There he compared Israeli policies toward Gaza with Nazi Germany, saying “The analogies are obvious.” He then called Israel a “warmongering country” and a “lunatic state.”
On May 23, Finkelstein arrived in Israel from Amsterdam with the stated purpose of visiting an Arab friend. Israel’s security service detained Finkelstein at Ben-Gurion Airport for approximately 24 hours, interrogated him, and placed him on a flight back to Amsterdam with a ten-year ban from Israel.
Finkelstein told Ha’aretz, “I told my interrogators I'm not an enemy of Israel.” To paraphrase George Orwell, some claims are so obnoxious that only an intellectual could make them.
Foreign media swiftly distorted Israel’s deportation of Finkelstein. “US academic deported and banned for criticising Israel,” read the headline in The Guardian of England. The Guardian must dislike fact checking, or it considers terrorist sympathies the same as mere criticism.
Israel’s course of action was quite lenient; it simply made plain that people who glorify and associate with anti-Semitic terrorists aren’t welcome in the Jewish nation. This defensive policy of rational exclusion is preferable to Israel dispossessing Israelis in the Gaza Strip, releasing terrorists from prison, and contemplating surrender of the Golan Heights.
In fact, Israel had a duty to deport Finkelstein. To permit him in the country would have been an offense against Hezbollah’s victims. Would a vocal foreign supporter of Al Qaeda who praised the September 11 attacks be allowed to visit Manhattan?
No country should be expected to accept terrorist collaborators inside its borders. Norman Finkelstein should thank Israel for only putting him on a plane.