Israeli court scolds Nobel winner for voicing ‘propaganda’ during deportation hearing

By Aisha Mohammed, AP
Monday, October 4, 2010

Israeli court scolds Nobel winner

JERUSALEM — An Irish Nobel peace laureate accused Israel of being an “apartheid” state during a deportation hearing before the country’s Supreme Court Monday, prompting a strong rebuke from a justice who told her to keep her “propaganda” to herself.

Mairead Corrigan Maguire is under a 10-year ban from entering Israel because of her attempt to breach the Gaza naval blockade aboard a vessel in June. She was detained last Tuesday upon landing at Tel Aviv international airport but appealed the move and asked the court to allow her into Israel to join a women’s human rights delegation.

Maguire, her face pale and twitching, called on Israel to cease what she called its “apartheid” policy against the Palestinian people.

“This is no place for propaganda,” Justice Asher Grunis retorted and cut her off. The session ended soon thereafter.

The government opposed a court-proposed compromise that Maguire be allowed to join the delegation for two days and then leave. The court is expected to rule later Monday.

The comments were unlikely to endear Maguire to the court.

Her lawyers said they expected Maguire to be deported, but the incident is likely to further batter Israel’s image abroad. Interior ministry officials say Maguire knew she would not be allowed into the country but sought to provoke an incident.

Jody Williams of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, which sponsored the delegation, denied they were aware of the ban. But earlier in the year, Israel’s foreign ministry denied the group’s appeal to ease the ban and let Maguire take part in the delegation that arrived last week.

The 66-year-old activist won the peace prize in 1976 for her efforts to end sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

Israel has banned other pro-Palestinian activists from entering the country, including Jewish-American linguist Noam Chomsky in May. The government later said that was a mistake.

will not be displayed