BDS co-founder: Israel’s arrest and interrogation of Omar Barghouti next step in ‘war against BDS movement’

Israel/Palestine
on 25 Comments

Palestinian society has condemned Israel’s arrest and interrogation of Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as the next step in Israel’s fight against the BDS movement as a whole.

Israel arrested Barghouti on Sunday, raided his family home in Acre, Israel, held him for 16 hours and released him — however the BDS co-founder has been subjected to daily interrogations with Israeli authorities since then, according to a statement released by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).

Israeli tax authorities are accusing Barghouti of tax evasion on the sum of $700,000 in alleged hidden income from National Computing Resources, a business he heads in Ramallah, which sells ATM machines and other equipment in the occupied West Bank, as well as income from his book, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights and money he received as speaking fees for speeches.

The BNC on Wednesday released a statement challenging the charges.

“Omar Barghouti, has for years been subjected to intense threats, intimidation and repression by various arms of the far-right Israeli government, particularly after it considered the movement a ‘strategic threat’ to its entire system of injustice against Palestinians,” the movement said in a statement.

In March 2016, Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Dery threatened to revoke Barghouti residency in Israel. Barghouti, born in Qatar, gained permanent residency through marriage to his wife, a Palestinian citizen of Israel.

“I received information that his life is in Ramallah and he is using his resident status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner,” Israeli Daily Haaretz quoted Dery as saying.

“He was given rights similar to those of a citizen and he took advantage of our enlightened state to portray us as the most horrible state in the world,” said Dery.

During the same conference, Israeli Minister of Transport, Intelligence and Atomic Energy Yisrael Katz who called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence, meaning to tarnish one’s reputation and character among civil society.

The Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Minister of Information, Gilad Erdan, also described BDS activists and leaders as threats and called for them to “pay the price” for their work, which he clarified did not mean “physical harm.”

A month later, Amnesty International released a statement, calling on Israel to “cease intimidation of human rights defenders and protect them from attacks.”

“Amnesty International is concerned for the safety and liberty of Palestinian human rights defender Omar Barghouti and other [BDS] activists, following calls alluding to threats, including of physical harm and deprivation of basic rights, made by Israeli ministers,” the report read.

“Barghouti is a founding member and a prominent spokesperson of the BDS movement. He campaigns to hold Israel accountable for human rights and other international law violations and advocates for the use of non-violent means in doing so. He was personally attacked in comments and statements by conference participants including ministers, including by describing him as a threat who should be stopped,” the report continued.

Earlier this month, the Israeli Knesset passed a controversial law barring BDS activists from entering the country. The law banned people who call for BDS against Israel, as well as its settlements.

A fellow co-founder of the Palestinian BDS movement, Adnan Ramadan, told Mondoweiss that Barghouti’s arrest and interrogation was just another step in Israel’s strategy against the BDS movement.

“All of this tax evasion business is just an excuse to pressure the BDS movement as a whole, Ramadan said. “In general, it’s part of their war against the campaign, but it won’t work. They can arrest whoever they want, they can do more than that, but that won’t prevent people from continuing to use BDS as a tool in the struggle for Palestinian freedom.”

“This kind of targeting won’t work simply because the BDS campaign isn’t one person or two people or ten people, it’s an organized movement of hundreds of thousands of people, if not more than that, who feel strongly about their fight against the occupation and feel strongly about their motivations in resistance,” Adnan continued.

Adnan stressed that this move against Barghouti is not the first time Israel has targeted particular BDS activists for their work.

“They have been arresting people since the beginning, and it’s all to pressure the people, but the people won’t be silent,” he said. “Palestinians have been resisting for more than 60 years, Israel can kill people, they can assassinate and detain leaders, but it won’t and can’t stop the struggle. All they are doing is holding the body of someone inside a wall, but they can’t hold ideas, or souls of people who believe in the importance of their role of humanity against occupation and injustice.”

About Sheren Khalel

Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.

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25 Responses

  1. AddictionMyth
    March 23, 2017, 10:43 am

    This witch hunt will backfire so bigly it’s not even funny.

  2. catalan
    March 23, 2017, 12:09 pm

    It’s nice how the leader of the boycott movement has an ATM business which incidentally benefits from the boycott. A great example of alignment of private interest with the public good.

    • oldgeezer
      March 23, 2017, 4:25 pm

      @catalan

      Heavy on the incidentally with an added layer of not necessarily at all.

      Now you are stretching beyond the breaking point. But it is a funny comment. I will grant you that.

    • John O
      March 23, 2017, 4:52 pm

      @catalan

      In what way, pray, does an ATM business benefit from “the boycott”?

      • catalan
        March 23, 2017, 9:37 pm

        He can take market share from his Israeli competitors. Their pain is his gain. Who said that human rights heros can’t make a buck? The man deserves a reward for his services in fighting injustice.

      • oldgeezer
        March 23, 2017, 10:11 pm

        @catalan

        How many Israeli atm suppliers operate in the west bank
        What is their market share
        What would their market share be estimated to be absent of BDS
        What percent of the market does his company have as boycott also benfits them
        Givem that the boycott is world wide what significance does the existance of his company have in any boycott in the first instance
        Given that no atm suppliers are listed as targets of the boycott how many people are aware of the roots of any atm suppliers or providers
        Given the fact that west bank people cant freely enter Israel to use Israeli atm’s what is the relevance of your comment
        How does barghouti benefit from my decision not to buy either Israeli or settlement goods

        I am sure googme can supply some of the answers but basically you just supplied your zionist racist street creds again as you have since the beginning. No slur too great. No evidence needed. A man of peace and justice you aren’t. A bigot you certifiably are.

        I await your answers and typical goal post moving to paint yourself as something less vile than you truly are.

    • Danaa
      March 25, 2017, 2:27 am

      Any civilized person should engage in complete boycott of anything and everything from Israel. period. It is a horrific apartheid country that runs itself like a crazy cult of ethnic purity. A true testament to mankind not only not making much progress ethically, but possibly going backwards.

      Those in charge of the gaza ghetto and those who condone it should be held accountable. Even if they are “nice” people. Many nazis were also “nice people”.

      Good for Omar. Hope he continues to resist.

  3. Citizen
    March 23, 2017, 12:42 pm

    I hope so!

  4. Jackdaw
    March 23, 2017, 4:34 pm

    Yes, a frame up. He’s pure as the driven snow. Butter wouldn’t melt….

    Why don’t the Mondoweiss running dogs set up a GoFund for poor Omar. Let’s see how many of you put your money where your mouth is.

    • John O
      March 23, 2017, 4:55 pm

      You, on the other hand, might want to set up a fund for the Israeli youth who allegedly made all those threatening calls to Jewish organisations in the USA:

      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/23/israeli-police-arrest-man-over-bomb-threats-to-us-jewish-targets

      • Jackdaw
        March 24, 2017, 2:14 am

        @JohnO

        The tax evader and the bomb threatener should both be prosecuted and punished.

        Do you agree with me?

      • Dutch
        March 24, 2017, 6:11 pm

        @ Jackdaw

        Allow me to answer: No, I don’t agree. You might want to supply some evidence for your insinuations before demanding answers from others. As far as I know Omar is the one being under threat. Do you agree?

      • Annie Robbins
        March 24, 2017, 7:32 pm

        John O, so, i guess all the bomb threats to jewish centers wasn’t a case of anti semitism?

    • Mooser
      March 23, 2017, 5:24 pm

      “Why don’t the Mondoweiss running dogs set up a GoFund for poor Omar”

      Oh, it’s just kidnapping, a matter of buying his freedom by paying the ransom. How much do you think Israel will charge?

    • gamal
      March 23, 2017, 6:13 pm

      “Yes.. …..your mouth is”

      oh shit what a shame! have you no self respect man

    • oldgeezer
      March 23, 2017, 7:08 pm

      @jackdaw

      The charges may be valid. Time will tell possibly.

      The problem is that in the case of a country which is so utterly criminal and corrupt there is little likelihood olfor the possibility of a fair trial. Particularly given the public comments made about him in public.
      In Isral the law may be diferrent. We know it will be applied differently. In my country the charges would be thrown out of court due to the public political statements. And so they should be. But probably not in a racisr state such as Israel.

      • Jackdaw
        March 24, 2017, 9:09 am

        Criminal? Corrupt? Racist?

        Yet, an Israeli officer was sentenced today to 11 years in prison for raping West Bank Arab women in exchange for travel passes.

        Justice. Integrity. Equality. They all prevail in Israel.

        http://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-officer-receives-11-year-prison-term-for-various-offenses/

      • Mooser
        March 24, 2017, 12:23 pm

        “Yet, an Israeli officer was sentenced today…”

        You know, if he hadn’t raped the women, he wouldn’t have to go to jail at all.

        And what a person is sentenced to and what time they serve are very different things.

      • eljay
        March 24, 2017, 1:12 pm

        || Jackdaw: … an Israeli officer was sentenced today to 11 years in prison for raping West Bank Arab women in exchange for travel passes. … ||

        According to the article you linked to, he got 11 years for a lot more than raping women:

        … The soldier was convicted on most of the charges against him, the IDF said in December, including sexual offenses, sexual harassment, bribe-taking, fraud, breach of trust and exceeding his authority to the extent of posing a national security risk. …

        The guy was so dirty even Zionists couldn’t let this one slide!

        || … Justice. Integrity. Equality. They all prevail in Israel. … ||

        Yup, they prevail all the time except for when Israel:
        – exists as a religion-supremacist state;
        – continues to occupy and colonize non-Israeli territory;
        – refuses to honour its obligations under international law (including RoR);
        – refuses to make amends for its past and on-going (war) crimes.

        Aside from that, they totally prevail.

      • Mooser
        March 24, 2017, 3:52 pm

        “even Zionists couldn’t let this one slide!”

        Maybe he forgot; kickin’ down and kissing up isn’t enough. You’ve got to kick back, too.

        The article at Times of Israel refused to identify the man! Or even show a picture of him. For all anybody knows he could be out of jail in 11 days or weeks.

    • Danaa
      March 25, 2017, 2:32 am

      I wouldn’t mind seeing a GoFundme page to bring the murderous IDF thugs and the rest of the storm troopers to justice. Right along with the crazy religious nutcases who are busy with their pogroms. Frankly, the israelis make the Cosasacks of old look like saints by comparison. At least the Cossacks rode in, did their evil deeds and rode out to terrorize some other hapless peasant somewhere else (OK, not all Kossacks did that. My apologies to the good kossacks). But the israelis will not rest their evil-minded torture regime till every last Palestinian is gone or jailed or rendered subservient. Just as commanded by that sad little dusty and violent manuscript (otherwise known as old testament) taught in every israeli school every day. But hey, that’s not considered incitement to violence. After all, it was such a great little book!

  5. Talkback
    March 24, 2017, 5:38 am

    The only shmockracy in the middle east.

  6. Ottawa observer
    March 24, 2017, 5:49 pm

    I think Mondoweiss should be more strict in vetting comments. Its tiring and a waste of time to wade through these ad hominem and snarky comments. You would do a service to all of us by making sure that comments add value to the discussion – new relevant information or new perspectives. That does not meaning excluding Zionists. On the contrary, we should encourage them to engage in thoughtful conversation. IMHO.

    • Danaa
      March 25, 2017, 2:40 am

      Actually, we love us some zionists. It gets a little boring otherwise, not to have them walk in to try and justify the unjustifyable.

      As for engaging them, people did it for years. It’s useless and pointless – just like enegaging a Mormon cult member or a scientologist in a debate. their minds are sealed within their self-referencial bubble. If they come out to play it’s just for fun.

      I have yet to meet a single zionist (which means over 90% of “Jewish” israelis) who was ever willing to learn something that in any way challenged their assumptions. just doesn’t happen. But no harm in a little snowball fight, is there? I mean, they are making their pay grade this way (and I want my commission!).

    • Mooser
      March 25, 2017, 1:41 pm

      .” Its tiring and a waste of time to wade through these ad hominem and snarky comments.”

      Which “ad hominem and snarky comments” are you referring to? You have not given a single example.

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