USACBI (the United States Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) strongly condemns the recent denial of permission to travel to the United States to Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement leader Omar Barghouti.
Barghouti was scheduled to speak at several U.S. venues, including a temple in Chicago, and to attend his daughter’s wedding, when he was told at Ben Gurion Airport that U.S. immigration officials would not let him fly to the U.S. despite his having all necessary travel documents.
Barghouti is clearly being targeted for his advocacy for BDS as a cofounder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and not for the first time. In 2016, Israeli officials had refused to renew his travel documents.
More generally, the denial of entry to the U.S. suggests collaboration between the U.S. and Israeli states in repressing the BDS movement. In 2017, the Knesset passed a law denying entry to Israel of supporters of the BDS movement. Since then, BDS supporters like Columbia University Law Professor Katherine Franke, and Palestinian novelist Susan Abulhawa, among others, have been prevented from entering Israel.
The U.S. decision to ban Barghouti is consistent with the Trump administration’s aggressive attacks on Palestinian political interests. Recently, the administration announced that it would support Israeli annexation of the West Bank as well as its occupation of the Golan Heights. This is consistent with its move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which under international law is annexed and illegally occupied by Israel. The Barghouti ban is also part of the Muslim/Arab travel ban and a wider pattern of Islamophobic and xenophobic attacks by the U.S. on declared political enemies.
Nevertheless, the fact that Israel and the U.S. are attempting to restrict the movements of Barghouti is a sign of the growing success of the BDS and academic and cultural boycott movement he represents. Since 2013, dozens of successful BDS initiatives, from campuses and academic associations to churches and trade and teachers unions–have occurred throughout the world. USACBI has been involved in several of these campaigns as an organization founded in response to the call from PACBI to build support for the boycott among academics and cultural workers in the US.
USACBI urges all global BDS campaigns and movements to join us in defending Barghouti and the principles of the BDS Movement.
We urge people to sign this joint Arab American Institute/Jewish Voice for Peace petition demanding that Barghouti be allowed to enter the U.S.
We also urge academic and cultural workers in the US to sign their name in support of USACBI’s call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel: https://usacbi.org/about/
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