Earlier this month, Israeli authorities refused to renew the travel documents of Omar Barghouti, a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
Barghouti was born in Qatar, grew up in Egypt and later moved to Jaffa and then to Acre in Israel as an adult, but he insists on counting himself as part of the indigenous people, as when he told the AP back in 2007, that the “Palestinians cannot possibly observe the same boycott guidelines as asked of internationals” and that the “indigenous population” is entitled to all services they can get from the system.
After marrying his wife, an Israeli Arab, Barghouti, was granted permanent residency in Israel, which he has enjoyed for the past 23 years. He holds a master’s degree in ethics from Tel Aviv University, and is pursuing a PhD. A petition drew more than 184,000 signatures asked the university to expel him, but he was never expelled.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) has threatened to revoke Barghouti’s residency on the grounds that “he is using his resident status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner.”
Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) called for a campaign of “targeted civil elimination” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence.
Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information Gilad Erdan (Likud), who is in charge of the fight against the BDS, said that activists including Barghouti should “pay the price” for their work.
Well, the Israeli system this month decided to deny the BDS leader one vital service: they will not renew his travel papers. Barghouti told the Arab press in response: “I am unnerved but certainly undeterred by these threats. Nothing will stop me from struggling for my people’s freedom, justice and peace.”
They could take away his Internet connection, of course.
Sixteen organizations from American, Asian, and European countries are demanding that Israel make it possible for Barghouti to travel around the world to sabotage Israeli commercial and national interests. But rather than addressing Israel’s foreign ministry (which is currently headed by PM Benjamin Netanyahu), these NGOs sent their protest to the foreign ministers of 14 countries and international organizations, including, naturally, John Kerry of the USA, Federica Mogherini, High Representative for the European Union, Margot Wallström of Sweden, and Charles Flanagan of Ireland.
After relating Israel’s repressive attitude against its enemy within, the NGOs demanded that the foreign ministers “use the power and influence that resides in your office to impress on the Israeli government the absolute necessity of ceasing its repressive measures against Palestine’s civil leaders, and in particular to permit Omar Barghouti to play his full role, both inside Israel and without, in representing the aspirations of the Palestinian people.”
Incidentally, any one of the 14 countries addressed by those NGOs could offer Omar Barghouti residency or citizenship and travel papers galore. There must be a reason why they haven’t so far.David Israel