Israel deported and banned a prominent U.S. Jewish academic because, well….he says mean things about them! Waaaaaah!

Norman Finkelstein has been a vocal critic of Israeli policies concerning the treatment of Palestinians, and has voiced support for Hizbollah, but claims “I’m not an enemy of Israel” and supports a two-state solution. He was detained coming into the country, interrogated for 24, deported and banned from entering for 10 years. Harsh!

The response from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel says this is an infringement of free speech, adding “The decision to prevent someone from voicing their opinions by arresting and deporting them is typical of a totalitarian regime.”

[sigh] Really? We really have to have this said to us? It’s not glaringly obvious that this is a violation of everything a free democracy should stand for?

And then I found this today – the U.S. has withdrawn all Fullbright scholarships for Palestinians since Israel won’t let them leave. Nice one! Way to show you’re committed to finding cooperative solutions by denying education and training to those on the other side most likely to help you formulate them.

Hadeel Abukwaik, engineering software instructor, one of the Fullbright scholars affected.

The reasoning behind this sounds like idealogical dogmatism combined with bureaucratic communication failures.

One the one hand:

At the parliamentary hearing on Wednesday, a Defense Ministry official recalled that the cabinet had declared Gaza “hostile territory” and decided that the safety of Israeli soldiers and civilians at or near the border should be risked only to facilitate the movement out of Gaza for humanitarian concerns, like medical treatment. Higher education, he said, was not a humanitarian concern.

But on the other hand:

…when a query about the canceled Fulbrights was made to the prime minister’s office on Thursday, senior officials expressed surprise. They said they did, in fact, consider study abroad to be a humanitarian necessity and that when cases were appealed to them, they would facilitate them.

But the appeals will be too late for the students, who will have to wait and reapply next year. Way to be a dick Israel!

A reaction of one of the unfortunate scholars: “I still cannot believe that the American administration is not able to convince the Israelis to let seven Palestinians out of Gaza.” Only, see, they probably can convince them, the U.S. is pretty good at that with Israel, they, uh, most likely just don’t care. D’oh.