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Sunday Feb. 20, 2011 12:23 PM (EST+7)
INTERVIEW: US visa delayed, boycott book author slams Washington's policies

Read more: Boycott Divestment and Sanctions, BDS, boycott, US policy, US foreign policy, war crimes, freedom of speech

RAMALLAH, Feb 20 (JMCC) - The author of a book on the movement to boycott Israel will be forced to cancel an April speaking tour in the United States due to visa delays, said his publisher Friday, charging that US officials are targeting him for his views.

Omar Barghouti, author of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights, said that he applied for a visa to travel to the US in October and has since faced a series of delays.

Officials at the US consulate first asked Barghouti to file an Israeli police report indicating that he has no criminal record, despite that he previously held a US visa for five years, lived in the US for 11 years, and was once the holder of a US green card.

Then the Palestinian was told he had been granted a ten-year visa, but his passport was returned with no visa stamp. Officials later requested that Barghouti resubmit his passport, but told him that final approval was subject to a name check.


Barghouti's publisher, Anthony Arnove of Haymarket Books, is charging that Bargouti is one in a string of foreign nationals subject to visa denials or delays because the US government objects to their political views.

Foreign nationals who have been denied visas include Fulbright scholar Marixa Lasso; Iraqi doctor Riyadh Lafta, who disputed the official Iraqi civilian death numbers in the British medical journal The Lancet; South African scholar and Iraq War critic Adam Habib, and Oxford’s Tariq Ramadan.

It's essential authors be able to travel to promote their books and ideas, and as publishers we believe the free exchange of ideas is vital to a democratic culture, said Arnove in a press release. We find it frustrating that Omar's visa is being delayed and potentially denied for political reasons and hope the consulate will grant his visa immediately.

Barghouti says that American officials are not fooling the Arab world by advocating for democracy. He called the US the key partner of Israel in its occupation, colonialism and apartheid, responding by email to an interview request.

Freedom, from the US establishment's perspective, amounts to the 'liberty' to bow to their hegemony and accepting their multinationals' pillage of the world as fate, Barghouti wrote.

We shall continue to speak truth to power no matter what the consequences. We shall continue to struggle for nothing less than full freedom, full justice, full self determination, and full emancipation from US imperial hegemony.


Barghouti's book, due out in the spring, is an analytical examination of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement - how it came about and why it is succeeding, he said.

It is our hope that this book will appeal to a wide cross-section around the world - students, social justice activists of all sorts, academics, artists, faith groups, trade unionists, feminists, queer activists, etc., he wrote.

It is mainly about how a morally consistent struggle that is creative, inclusive and based on universal human rights can succeed in challenging one of the world's most brutal, powerful and patently deceptive oppressive regimes.

Israel has become increasingly concerned by the international boycott movement, with an official recently admitting that it has cost Israel hundreds of millions of dollars.

Legislation making it illegal to provide information that could be used to support the boycott of Israel is making its way through the Israeli Knesset, in a move that activists charge suppresses free speech.

But Barghouti said the BDS movement is growing, particularly after Israeli commandos killed nine activists aboard a Turkish flotilla carrying aid to Gaza.

BDS has mobilized and empowered many in international civil society to effectively and morally challenge Israel's impunity and ongoing disregard of the precepts of international law, he said.

Major cultural figures have heeded our call not to perform in Israel, said Barghouti. At the economic level, consumer boycotts are spreading throughout the West and divestment from Israeli companies and from companies complicit in Israel's violation of international law and Palestinian rights is growing steadily and sometimes spectacularly.







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