The Trump administration refused to let the founder of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement into the U.S. this week, according to the group that was supposed to host him.
Omar Barghouti had been slated to appear at several events Thursday to talk about the BDS movement for the Arab American Institute.
The group said when he showed up at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel on Wednesday he was denied boarding to the flight, despite what organizers said was a valid visa.
“We still don’t know the exact reasons for it and we will be litigating,” said James J. Zogby, founder of the institute, who said his group members’ rights were hindered by the denial.
For his part, Mr. Barghouti, speaking by video to the institute, accused the U.S. of acting as a tool of Israel in the denial.
“This is really a blatant attempt to silence my voice,” he said, chiding the “right-wing xenophobic U.S. administration.”
But opponents of the BDS movement cheered the Trump administration.
“Barghouti’s anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate must not be tolerated, empowered or embraced,” said Rep. Lee Zeldin, New York Republican.
Mr. Barghouti, a Palestinian, had been scheduled to appear at New York University Thursday morning, and then later in the evening in Washington, D.C., at the Arab American Institute’s office.
The events were billed as a chance for Mr. Barghouti to “dispel the myths” about BDS.
The GOP-led Senate voted in a bipartisan fashion earlier this year to punish BDS by creating a legal protection for localities who refuse to do business with organizations or persons associated with the movement.
Democratic leaders in the House have not moved to take any action on that bill, instead saying they prefer a non-binding measure that would criticize BDS but would not take any steps toward constraining the movement.
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