Palestinian BDS Founder Barghouti on Being Denied Entry to U.S.: Israel Outsources Repression

'U.S. entry ban against me is ideologically motivated,' Barghouti tells NYU event via video after he was stopped from boarding a flight in Tel Aviv last week

Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS Movement for Palestinians, poses for a photo in Ramallah, West Bank, January 20, 2019.
\ MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/ REUTERS

NEW YORK — BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti said Monday he was “hurt but not deterred” after being denied entry to the United States last week while trying to board a plane in Israel.

Barghouti was speaking at a lecture at New York University he had been scheduled to attend in person as part of his U.S. speaking tour. His appearance came instead via a live video feed.

The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement leader was also set to speak at Harvard, a Philadelphia bookstore and a Chicago synagogue, as well as attending the wedding of a daughter who lives in the United States.

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“This U.S. entry ban against me is ideologically and politically motivated in the spirit of Israel’s escalating repression against Palestinians, Israeli and international rights defenders in the BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality,” he said.

Omar Barghouti speaking visa video chat in New York University, New York, April 15, 2019.
Gili Getz

“Israel is not merely continuing its decade-old system of military occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing,” he added. “It is increasingly outsourcing its outrageous, McCarthyite repression to the U.S. and to the xenophobic far-right cohorts across the world. 

“Supporters of Israeli apartheid in the U.S. are desperately trying to deny U.S. lawmakers, media, diverse audiences and NYU, Harvard, Uncle Bobbie’s bookstore in Philadelphia and the Tzedek Chicago synagogue their right to listen firsthand to a Palestinian human rights advocate calling for ending U.S. complicity in Israel’s crime against our people,” Barghouti added. “But all my speaking engagements will proceed as planned, albeit via [a video] stream.”

Marc Lemont Hill speaking at New York University, New York, April 15, 2019.
Gili Getz

Barghouti was already at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport last Thursday when airline staff informed him he could not fly to the United States despite holding valid travel documents. They cited an "immigration matter,” according to a statement by the Washington-based advocacy group Arab American Institute.

The NYU session in which Barghouti participated on Monday evening was titled “Jim Crow to Jerusalem: Time to Break the Silence on Palestine.” His co-panelists included Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, and former CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill, who was fired last year after he gave a speech at the UN calling for “a free Palestine, from the river to the sea.”