BDS Co-Founder Says He Was Banned ‘Without A Reason’ From Entering U.S. For Speaking Engagements

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
BDS
Omar Barghouti listens during an interview with the Associated Press in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, May 10, 2016. Barghouti, a Qatari-born Palestinian who is married to an Israeli woman and leader of the international boycott movement against Israel, on Tuesday accused Israeli authorities of imposing a travel ban on him as retribution for his political activities. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights, said the U.S. government recently banned him from entering the country without explanation, according to an op-ed published in The Guardian.

Barghouti said he was traveling to the U.S. for various meetings with policymakers, journalists and ordinary American citizens “to address the critical need for cutting U.S. complicity in Israel’s grave violations of Palestinian rights.” Afterwards, he was to attend his daughter’s wedding in Houston.

In a move that Barghouti describes as Israel enlisting the Trump administration to do its bidding, the Palestinian activist was prevented from doing any of it. While he still attended his meetings remotely, Barghouti said he “cannot possibly compensate the personal loss of missing my daughter’s wedding. I am hurt, but I am far from deterred.”

BDS was inspired by the South African anti-apartheid and U.S. Civil Rights movements to fight for freedom, justice and equality, he said. “Americans have a long and honorable history using boycotts for social, political and economic justice,” he wrote. His words are underscored by acts like BDS honoring Angela Davis and its call for Woolworths in South Africa to stop sourcing products from Israel.

The Arab American Institute said “Barghouti typically faces travel hurdles from Israel — not the U.S. He has a master’s degree from Columbia University and spent a decade in the U.S. in the 1980s,” according to a report from National Public Radio (NPR).

It is the position of many that Barghouti has a right to free speech and the U.S. should have allowed him entry, including the editorial board of New York Daily News. Despite being staunchly against divesting from and sanctioning Israel, the board said the U.S. violated its own values by not allowing Barghouti entry and making him miss his daughter’s wedding.

BDS’ official account and other users weighed in on Twitter.