US bars entry to Palestinian campaigner for Israel boycott
The United States has barred a prominent Palestinian activist from entering the country for boycotting Israel.
A US official on Thursday equated campaigns launched by Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement with anti-Semitism.
Barghouti was not allowed to board a plane on Wednesday for a speaking tour at Harvard University, New York University as well as a left-leaning synagogue in Chicago.
"Israel is not merely continuing its decades-old system of military occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing," Barghouti said in a statement.
"It is increasingly outsourcing its outrageous, McCarthyite repression to the US and to xenophobic, far-right cohorts across the world," he added.
Barghouti said he had also planned during the trip to attend his US-based daughter's wedding, saying: "I am hurt, but I am not deterred."
Barghouti had a US visa valid through January 2021. However, according to the Arab American Institute, he was informed by airline staff at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport that US authorities had issued instructions denying him the right to travel.
Robert Palladino, State Department spokesman, said that the US does not explain individual visa decisions.
"US law does not authorise the refusal of visas based solely on political statements or views if those statements or views would be legal in the United States," he said without, however, explaining why Barghouti was rejected.
The nonviolent BDS movement says it is inspired by the campaign that targeted South Africa's apartheid regime and is seeking put an end to Israel's brutal occupation of the West Bank.
Israel sees the movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism – a claim activists firmly deny, calling it an attempt to discredit them.
But BDS, which adheres to peaceful resistance, aims to pressure Israel to adhere to international law and human rights by lobbying various states, institutions and personas to understand its oppression of Palestinians and take action as a result.
The peaceful movement operates by pressuring corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with Israel with supporters saying activities are aimed at promoting a Palestinian statehood.
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