Jewish and Arab groups have joined Omar Barghouti in condemning last week’s decision by the Trump administration to ban the prominent Palestinian activist from entering the US. The co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was scheduled to visit America to speak at universities and meet with pro-democracy groups. The decision to deny him entry has been denounced as an attack on freedom of expression.
“This US entry ban against me, which is ideologically and politically motivated, is part of Israel’s escalating repression against Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders in the BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality,” Barghouti said in a statement to Al Jazeera.
“Israel’s far-right regime is not merely continuing its decades-old system of military occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing; it is increasingly outsourcing its outrageous, McCarthyite repression to the US and to xenophobic, far-right cohorts across the world,” he added. He went on to say that “the most precious thing that this ban deprives me of, and that I cannot compensate, is being at my daughter’s wedding. I am hurt, but I am not deterred.”
Barghouti, who is said to hold valid travel documents and a US visa valid until 2021, made the remarks in response to last week’s decision by the Trump administration to deny him entry. During his trip, which was organised by the Arab American Institute (AAI), the Palestinian activist was scheduled to speak in Washington, New York University’s DC campus, Harvard University and meet with policymakers and journalists. He was also expecting to attend the wedding of his daughter who lives in the US.
Barghouti said that the US was adopting McCarthyite policies to please Israel. “We see this as Israel outsourcing its McCarthyite anti-democratic repression against the BDS movement for human rights in Palestine to the United States,” he was quoted saying by RT. “The US administration has been mobilized now to do Israel’s bidding in trying to silence Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders, who are active in this extremely effective and very important non-violent BDS movement.”
According to the Guardian a joint petition by AAI and the Jewish American campaign group, Jewish Voice for Peace is demanding the reinstatement of Barghouti’s ability to travel to the US.
The US decision to ban Barghouti from the country follows a string of anti-BDS moves across the country. At least 27 states in the US have introduced laws to combat BDS activism. In February the Senate passed a motion to sanctions US companies which support the boycott of Israel despite concerns that it was “unconstitutional”.