BDS Founder Omar Barghouti Stopped at Airport, Denied Entry to US

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Photo Credit: Flickr - Kevin van den / Omar Barghouti was denied entry to the US

This Wednesday, the US Government denied entry to Omar Barghouti, the leader and co-founder of the BDS movement, when he was barred from boarding a flight from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport to New York on Wednesday night.

Barghouti had been invited by the Arab American Institute (AAI) and was set to hold a multi-city speaking tour in the US including engagements at New York University and Harvard. He had a valid travel document and visa. Nevertheless, the US Consulate in Tel Aviv directed US immigration officials to deny his entry and Barghouti was not allowed to board the flight.

Although the official aim of the BDS movement is to hurt economic, political, and cultural ties with the State of Israel, Israeli individuals, and Israeli companies/organizations, today BDS has morphed into a platform for thinly-veiled antisemitism and criticism of the US-Israel relationship.  So far 27 American states have adopted laws in response to the antisemitic nature of boycotts against Israel. In February, the US Senate also voted to pass anti-BDS legislation encouraging states not to sign contracts with supporters of the BDS movement.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Barghouti has a long history of inciting antisemitism by pushing false narratives about American Jews while promoting the boycott of Israel.  In the past, Barghouti has claimed that “US Congress is bought and paid for by the Israel Lobby”, “that the US and Israel benefit from ISIS”, and “that the United States created the Taliban.”  

Despite identifying as Palestinian, the leader of the BDS movement is ironically a permanent resident of Israel. He holds a Philosophy degree from Tel Aviv University, is married to an Israel Arab and lives in the Northern Israeli city Acre. Although he regularly travels back and forth to the West Bank and does not have full Israeli citizenship.

Barghouti co-founded the BDS movement in 2004, when he helped create the “Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel” in Ramallah. Since then, BDS has morphed into a global initiative promoting various forms of boycott against Israel and has become a key Palestinian strategy to delegitimize Israel. While some believe cultural, educational, and business boycotts of Israel will actually change policies on the ground, the reality has been the demonization and the delegitimization of the Jewish people and Israel.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Barghouti has a philosophy degree from Tel Aviv University

Most Jewish organizations today view the BDS movement and Barghouti as antisemitic. Principles pushed by Barghouti such as denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination, encouraging intimidation of Jews and Jewish students on campuses thousands of miles away from the Middle East, and promoting false conspiracy theories about Jews are undeniably antisemitic aspects of the BDS movement.

Hopefully, Barghouti’s denial of entry to the United States will serve as a reminder that thinly-veiled antisemitism will not be tolerated in America with impunity.  

Barghouti described the reaction as "part of Israel's escalating repression against Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders in the BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality."