We are deeply concerned that Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti was denied entry to the United States on Wednesday. Barghouti was reportedly informed while at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport that US immigration officials had ordered the US consul in Tel Aviv to deny him permission to enter the United States, despite the fact that he had all necessary travel documents.
Barghouti is well known as the founder and one of the most prominent leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement to pressure and isolate Israel.
J Street opposes the BDS movement and vehemently disagrees with many of Barghouti’s views. Nonetheless, we believe it would be an unacceptable attack on free speech and open debate to deny him entry to the United States on the basis of his political views and advocacy.
Just as we vocally opposed Israel’s enactment and application of a law denying BDS supporters entry to Israel, we believe that banning BDS supporters on the basis of their political opinions or non-violent activism is equally wrong in this country.
Tolerance for criticism and dissent is the hallmark of a healthy democracy. If the decision to deny Barghouti entry was based on his support for BDS, we hope that it will be overturned and that he will soon be granted permission to enter the country.