On April 10 Omar Barghouti founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel (BDS),he was prevented from boarding.a plane to the US.
Alison Deger of Mondoweiss writes
Speaking over Skype to an audience in Washington DC today for a discussion moderated by the Atlantic’s Peter Beinart, Barghouti said he believes the travel ban was imposed “by Israel directly or by proxy by the United States” to “silence human rights defenders in the BDS movement” whether they are “Palestinian, Israeli, or international human rights defenders.”“They are resorting to more McCarthyite, more repressive intimidation, bullying and violation of basic rights to silence us.”
“By having U.S. immigration ban me from entering the United States, this is really a blatant attempt to silence my voice and it’s taking the opposition to BDS in this right-wing, xenophobic administration to a higher lever,” he said.
Barghouti lived in the U.S. for more than a decade including years spent earning a masters degree in engineering from Columbia University. He has traveled back and forth previously without issues, although he was temporary prohibited from leaving Israel earlier this year after his travel document was not renewed without explanation. Barghouti lives in Israel where he is a permanent resident and therefore does not possess Israeli citizenship or a passport. After Amnesty International intervened, his travel document was reinstated earlier this year, again without explanation.
In recent years 27 states have passed laws limiting or banning boycotts against Israel for state employees and contractors. Shortly after the measures were passed, four states struck down the laws as unconstitutional. Current federal legislation would upend those reversals. In February the Senate passed the Combating BDS Act of 2019 which grants state and local governments the power to stop doing business with boycotters of “Israel or Israeli-controlled territories.” A similar version of the bill is making the rounds in the House but is unlikely to pass.
James Zogby, the head of the Arab American Institute, said before introducing Barghouti at this morning’s event that he had attempted to arrange meetings between the BDS activist and members of Congress who oppose the tactic.
“What is especially troubling is that there are numerous pieces of legislation and or resolutions denouncing BDS, and some of them calling out Mr. Barghouti by name,” Zogby said. “A person much denounced and much defamed should have the opportunity to engage in conversation.
“We wrote to all of the members of Congress who were sponsors of the legislation asking if they would want to meet. The response has been to deny him entry.”
The BDS movement is modeled on boycotts of the South African Apartheid regime as a means of pressuring an end to the system of racial discrimination. In 2005 Barghouti produced a seminal document outlining his principles for a non-violent movement that could sway Israel to make fundamental changes in how it treats Palestinians. The call was widely endorsed by Palestinian nonprofits and activists abroad. Israel has vehemently opposed the movement as an effort to “delegitimize” the state and sought to connect it to Palestinian militant groups, which are labeled as terrorist organizations by the U.S. and Israel.
In the Skype interview Barghouti said
It shocks me to read those anti-BDS legislation. The number of lies and fabrications– it’s just horrific. Is there no fact checking in the United States, for god’s sake? Can anyone just do a basic fact-checking, it’s just amazing…
How can the United States with its proud heritage of respecting boycott, as a matter of freedom of speech, protected by the US Constitution, accept this McCarthyism?… We’re living through McCarthyism 2.0, an evolved version of the earlier McCarthyism. where loyalty to Israel’s far right regime is the litmus test. And when states pass anti-BDS legislation, they’re not betraying Palestinian right,s only, they’re betraying the U.S. Constitution, they’re betraying your civil rights. And no one is safe If they get away with this, if they get away with suppressing free speech on
Progressive Jews helping
Thanks to the work of Jewish Voice for Peace and more than 40 Jewish organizations across the world, this conflation between Israel and Jews is put to rest. Many progressive Jewish groups are fighting this notion, including some liberal Zionist groups in the United States. Some Senators, some representatives in Congress have fought this, when Netanyahu came and addressed Congress, speaking on behalf of the Jewish nation, many Jewish Americans objected to that. I would say Jewish millennials largely object to this
Netanyahu does not speak for all Jews. There are so many Jewish groups that support Palestinian rights and many who find what Israel is doing absolutely criminal and does not speak for them. So we should never fall into that trap of making that conflation between opposition to Israel’s policies, even ideology, and attacks on Jews as Jews as an identity, as a religion, as an ethnic group. That’s absolutely racist.