Saturday, February 19, 2011

Palestinian BDS proponent Omar Barghouti unable to enter US for book tour

Despite Obama Administration's Promise to Not Engage in "Ideological Exclusion" Prevalent in Bush Era… Omar Barghouti, Leading Spokesperson of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) Campaign Against Israel, Kept from Entering U.S. for Book Release Tour

Omar Barghouti
Inexplicable Visa Delays Effectively Canceling Series of Events on BDS Movement

Sponsors Call on Supporters to Contact the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem and Department of State to Fulfill Promise of "Promoting the Global Marketplace of Ideas" and Grant Barghouti's Visa

February 18, 2011

CHICAGO, IL--Effectively canceling a planned speaking tour, the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem has inexplicably delayed the granting of a visa for Omar Barghouti, founding member of the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) campaign, due to tour the United States this April for the release of his new book, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights.

Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu called the book "lucid and morally compelling… perfectly timed to make a major contribution to this urgently needed global campaign for justice, freedom and peace." Former President of the UN General Assembly, Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann called it "timely and responsibly written by a man who understands that creative nonviolence is the only way out of the dire situation in Palestine."

In recent years, numerous foreign scholars and experts have been subject to visa delays and denials that have prohibited them from speaking and teaching in the U.S.—a process the American Civil Liberties Union describes as "Ideological Exclusion," which they say violates Americans' First Amendment right to hear constitutionally protected speech by denying foreign scholars, artists, politicians and others entry to the United States.  Foreign nationals who have recently been denied visas include Fulbright scholar Marixa Lasso; Iraqi doctor Riyadh Lafta, who disputed the official Iraqi civilian death numbers in the respected British medical journal The Lancet; respected South African scholar and vocal Iraq War critic Dr. Adam Habib, and Oxford's Tariq Ramadan, who have both recently received visas to speak in the United States after many years of delays and denials.

For the release of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions, Barghouti has standing invitations for events in New York City, Harvard, Yale, Brown, Brandeis University, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. Barghouti studied, lived and worked in the United States for 11 years before permanently relocating to Jerusalem. He attended Columbia University, receiving both Bachelors and Masters degrees from the school. His U.S. born child, whom he needs a visa to visit, currently attends college in Indiana. Between 2005-2010, Barghouti visited the U.S. extensively without incident, on a 5 year visa, which only recently expired.

Barghouti's publisher, Anthony Arnove of Haymarket Books, stated that "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. 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 tour sponsors are calling on supporters to contact the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem and the Department of State to ask them to fulfill the promise from the Obama Administration of "promoting the global marketplace of ideas" and grant Barghouti's visa immediately.

U.S. Consulate:
Daniel Rubinstein
U.S. Consulate General, Jerusalem
18 Agron Road, Jerusalem 94190
Tel: +972.2.622.7230
Fax: +972.2.625.9270

Department of State:
Visa Services
Public Inquiries Division