Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti to discuss new book, recent developments in Gaza

By Michelle Williams

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Over the past week, the world saw a spike in attacks between Israeli forces and Hamas, resulting in many deaths and injuries.

The attacks were sparked by an antitank missile fired at an Israeli school bus on last Thursday, according to the New York Times, that critically wounded a 16-year-old boy. In response, Israel launched a series of aerial, artillery and tank fire throughout the Gaza Strip, attacks that resulted in the deaths of at least 18 Palestinian militants and civilians, according to the New York Times.

Days later, the New York Times reported that Hamas and Israeli leaders “signaled on Sunday that they were willing to restore calm after days of intense fighting,” and a tense ceasefire remains in place.

Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti will speak tonight at the University of Massachusetts about these recent developments and more in an event titled, “The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights.”

Barghouti is a founding member of the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, a nonviolent movement initiated in 2005. The call to action on the BDS campaign website specifically calls for “ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantl[e] the Wall,” “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality,” “and respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”

“[BDS is] a global movement with a Palestinian leadership, and it focuses on the three basic Palestinian rights,” said Barghouti in an interview on the “War and Peace Report,” a program for Democracy Now!

 

“This is often forgotten, especially here in the United States. It’s not just to end the occupation, because the 1967 occupation victimizes one-third, a mere one-third, of the Palestinian people,” he said. “Two-thirds are either refugees in exile or Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

Barghouti added, “To have a minimal kind of exercising of our right to self-determination, we would need to end the occupation of 1967, end Israel’s system of racial discrimination – so, have full equality in Israel for Jews, non-Jews and so on – and the right of return for refugees in accordance with U.N. Resolution 194. Without that, Palestinians cannot exercise our right to self-determination, and we can never have a just peace.”

The West Bank resident will also discuss his new book, “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights.”

 

Though he lived in the United States for 11 years, while attending Columbia University and working in the country, Barghouti was denied a visa for several months to visit the United States and promote his book.

“I think I never had trouble until my book tour was announced. So I think it is connected to the book tour,” said Barghouti on another appearance on the “War and Peace Report.”. “There was a clear attempt to cancel this book tour. I never had any security issue with the U.S., or anywhere else, actually. So there was absolutely no excuse. The visa was issued and then delayed. Some processes came up after it was supposedly approved.”

The book is published by Haymarket Books, a non-profit, book distributor and publisher based in Chicago, Ill. In a statement on the publishing company’s website, Haymarket Editor Anthony Arnove said he believed the visa was eventually granted as a result of an “international public campaign” that lobbied U.S. government officials, members of Congress and the State Department.

“It is proof that protest works and solidarity matters,” said Arnove in a statement. “We are thrilled he is coming.”

The event will be held tonight, April 14,  in Thompson 102 at 6 p.m. The event is being sponsored by six Five College student groups, UMass’ STPEC Department and the Western Mass. Coalition for Palestine.

Michelle Williams can be reached at [email protected]