Monday, May 17, 2010

How to Write a Headline

Via Counterpunch, which called the link "Chomsky Denied Entry Into Israel". I think it's remarkable that ABC News even covered it:

Noam Chomsky Denied Entry to Israel

Israel Admits Error in Denying Left-Wing, U.S. Intellectual Noam Chomsky Entry Into Controlled Territory

That was odd. I'd already read the story at the BBC site, which made it reasonably clear that Chomsky never entered Israel or intended to. The headline was more accurate:

Israel denies US academic Chomsky West Bank entry

Renowned US scholar Noam Chomsky has been denied entry to the West Bank by Israeli immigration officials.

Chomsky had tried to enter the West Bank from Jordan, to speak at Birzeit University. The Israelis, who control entry, sent him back to Jordan. Chomsky suggests that it was at least partly because he hadn't planned to speak at an Israeli university as well, for that all-important balance. Now, as the ABC article shows, the Israelis are working on damage control: the decision was scandalous in Israel itself.
Israel's Interior Ministry admitted Monday that Chomsky's rejection had been made in error and without referring the case to the correct body. Access should be controlled by a special Israeli body responsible for coordinating activities in the Occupied Territories. ...
Chomsky said the Israeli official at the border told him, "Israel does not like what you say."

Chomsky's response: "Find one government in the world which does."

The ABC headline is a sort of Freudian slip. We all know that the West Bank really belongs to Israel anyway. Despite the pretense that the Palestinian Authority has any authority, it's Israel which controls the West Bank's border even with Jordan, let alone Israel. In that sense, it's true that Chomsky was "denied entry to Israel." Few Americans, and not many more Israelis, will even notice the slip.