Israel Blocks Professor From Entering, Citing Hezbollah Ties

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Israeli authorities have blocked an American professor known for his harsh criticism of Israel from entering the country, officials said Saturday.

Israeli security officials said Norman Finkelstein was denied entry on Friday because of suspicions that he had contact with elements "hostile" to Israel. Earlier this year, Finkelstein met a top Hezbollah commander in Lebanon.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity under Israeli security guidelines.

The Haaretz daily said Finkelstein was questioned after his arrival at Ben-Gurion airport near Tel Aviv and placed on a flight back to Amsterdam, his point of origin.

Finkelstein has angered Jewish groups by accusing Jews in Israel and the U.S. of exploiting the Holocaust for political and financial gain. He also has argued that Israel uses the outcry over perceived anti-Semitism as a weapon to stifle criticism.

Finkelstein resigned from DePaul University in Chicago last year after he was denied tenure.

Finkelstein could not immediately be reached for comment. But before leaving Israel, he told Haaretz he is "not an enemy" of the country, and he supports a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Finkelstein told the newspaper he was held at the airport for nearly 24 hours and was asked whether he had met with al-Qaida operatives, whether he had been sent to Israel by Hezbollah and how he intended to pay for his stay in Israel.

"I did my best to provide absolutely candid and comprehensive answers to all the questions put to me. I am confident that I have nothing to hide," he told Haaretz. "Apart from my political views, and the supporting scholarship, there isn't much more to say for myself: alas, no suicide missions or secret rendezvous with terrorist organizations."