Russia Today: Omar Barghouti, who was banned from entering the US, says Israel makes Washington do its bidding in suppressing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, but it only results in greater grassroots support.
Last week, Barghouti was prohibited from traveling from Israel to the US by the American immigration authorities despite having a valid visa. Speaking to RT, the activist said 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 said. “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.”
ALSO ON RT.COMUS bars BDS co-founder from boarding DC-bound plane in Israel, despite valid travel papersBarghouti said the travel restriction resulted in him missing several events in the US, where he intended to advocate the BDS cause. He added that the attempts by dozens of US states to ban the movement were a clear violation of the First Amendment.
“As far back as 1982 the US Supreme Court ruled that boycotts for political, social, and economic change are considered free speech,” he said. “All those 27 states are following Israel’s orders, basically, while violating their own constitution.”
There is a lot of outrage at the audacity of the US administration, this xenophobic, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab – and anti-Jewish – US administration that is hiding behind its support for Israel to cover up its own violations of human rights around the world, including its suppression of democratic rights of the American citizens themselves.
The attempts to undermine the BDS movement “from above” in the US have so far been in vain, he believes. “It has miserably failed to stop the immense growth of the movement at the grassroots level among trade unions, churches, women’s groups, LGBT groups and so on and so forth.” and…
Airline staff at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport informed Omar Barghouti on Wednesday as he prepared to board his flight to Washington that the US consulate had been ordered by US immigration authorities not to allow him to travel, even though he has a US visa valid through January 2021.
ALSO ON RT.COMHouse Dems ignore base, battle Trump for Israel’s approval with anti-boycott law as AIPAC loomsBarghouti was given no explanation for the US’ decision to bar him from the country beyond an “immigration matter,” according to the Arab American Institute, which had invited the activist to Washington, DC for a series of speaking engagements and classes. He had also scheduled events at Harvard University and New York University, meetings with “leading policy makers, thought-leaders and journalists,” and – before heading home – his daughter’s wedding.
The State Department refused to comment on the matter, telling NPR, “Visa records are confidential under US law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases.”
While Barghouti, who is a Palestinian and has permanent residency status in Israel, has had problems traveling in the past, Israeli authorities were always responsible, most recently in February when they refused to renew his travel documents until Amnesty International interceded with a demand that the country “end the arbitrary travel ban on human rights defender Omar Barghouti.” Aryeh Deri, the interior minister, has accused him of “using his resident status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner.”
“It is clear this arbitrary political decision is motivated by this administration’s effort to silence Palestinian voices,” AAI President James Zogby said of the US’ move. “At a time when some members of Congress are advocating for regressive anti-BDS bills and resolutions, when states have passed legislation targeting the non-violent boycott movement in violation of our protected First Amendment rights, it is disturbing that policy makers and the American people will not have the opportunity to hear from Omar directly.”
More than half of US states have passed laws to economically sanction or otherwise penalize companies or individuals that boycott Israel, and federal legislation targeting BDS has even included attempts to criminalize such boycotts – a measure opponents slammed as profoundly unconstitutional as it failed to pass last year.
ALSO ON RT.COMSouth Africa to downgrade status of its embassy in Israel once ‘modalities’ are finalizedThe BDS movement launched in 2005 as a nonviolent protest against Israel’s construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank, as well as its military occupation of the territory and other acts of violence and oppression against the Palestinians. Likening the Jewish state to apartheid South Africa, it uses many of the same tactics activists used to pressure that country into dropping its racist policies. Israel has accused the movement of seeking to “delegitimize” the country and recently barred the leaders of 20 US-based BDS-supporting organizations from entering Israel. The minister of transport, intelligence and foreign affairs has called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of the movement’s leaders.