Anti-Israel Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti, one of the co-founders of the boycott, divest, and sanctions movement, has been denied entry into the U.S.
The 55-year-old Barghouti has made a name for himself opposing Israel’s existence. He has been accused of supporting terrorism and is one of the leaders of the boycott, divest, and sanctions movement, which seeks to place financial pressure on Israel by promoting boycotts against businesses and individuals who support Israel.
Barghouti was stopped at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel on Wednesday and, despite holding valid travel documents, was told that U.S. immigration officials had denied him entry into the U.S.
The Arab American Institute said in a statement that “Barghouti was not provided an explanation for his denial of entry beyond ‘immigration matter.’”
Barghouti had planned a speaking tour with stops at Harvard University, New York University, and a bookstore in Philadelphia, as well as meetings in Washington. He had also planned to attend his daughter’s wedding.
Despite holding residency in Israel, Barghouti spends most of his time in the West Bank and is a member of a prominent Palestinian family that includes Marwan Barghouti, a terrorist and convicted murderer.
Israeli authorities in 2016 refused to renew his travel documents. Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri criticized Omar Barghouti at the time, saying that he was “using his resident status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner.”
Barghouti has prompted ire for his comments about Israel, including questioning its existence and calling it “most violent entity that exists” in the Middle East. He once described the Second Intifada, which was punctuated by 120 suicide bombings and of which Marwan Barghouti was a leader, as the “tell-tale heart of the old Palestine.”
In a 2010 interview, Omar Barghouti defended violence against Israel in support of Palestinian interests.
“We most definitely have a moral and legal right to an armed resistance against the military occupation of our land,” Barghouti said. “… as long as we attack legitimate targets, that is, the occupation, settlers, and people who are armed.”