Noam Chomsky and his Israeli opponents

Quote of the day!

Professor Noam Chomsky, the world-famous political and intellectual dissident once described in the Guardian as "one of the ten most quoted sources in the humanities -- along with Shakespeare and the Bible", has been barred by the Israeli government from lecturing in the occupied West Bank.

From ABC News:

Israeli authorities admitted today that they erred by denying renowned left-wing, US intellectual Noam Chomsky entry into Israeli-controlled territory.

After hours of questioning by Israeli officials at a border crossing between Jordan and the occupied Palestinian West Bank he was forced to return to the Jordanian capital Amman.

A linguist and political activist with a track record of criticizing Israeli policy, Chomsky had been scheduled to deliver two lectures at the Palestinian University of Bir Zeit. He was also due to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyed and other officials from the Palestinian Authority.

Chomsky told the Israeli daily Haaretz in a telephone interview that he thought the decision had been taken because of his political views and because he was only visiting a Palestinian college and not an Israeli one as well.

But for me, the best quotation of all comes from the piece in the Guardian (quoting the prof on al-Jazeera):

He told al-Jazeera television that the immigration official who interviewed him had made it clear that "the government of Israel doesn't like the kinds of things I say, which puts them into the same category as every other government in the world".

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.