To: Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel
Drop the Charges, Allow Omar Barghouti to Receive the Gandhi Peace Award
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We call on the Israeli government to drop the gag order on the case for which he was arrested, dismiss charges against Omar Barghouti and to restore his permission to travel abroad and to return to his home.
Why is this important?
Omar Barghouti is to receive the Gandhi Peace Award (presented by Promoting Enduring Peace) on April 23, 2017, in New Haven, CT along with legendary safety activist and Pentagon critic Ralph Nader. Barghouti is being honored for leading the BDS movement. BDS stands for boycotts, divestment and sanctions, peaceful ways to pressure Israel into honoring Palestinian rights.
However, the Israeli government wants BDS crushed along with any other form of resistance to Israeli dictates. Israeli President Revlin has called BDS a “strategic threat” implying it’s a grave physical threat to Israelis.
Omar Barghouti was arrested on March 19 by Israeli authorities and interrogated for days.
Barghouti has been married to an Israeli citizen for decades, but he only has the status of “permanent resident”. Last year his permit to travel was revoked by the Israeli government.
That same year the Israeli interior minister threatened to revoke his permission to reside in Israel. Another minister called for the “civil targeted assassination” of BDS leaders.
The Israeli government also set up something it called a “Tarnishing Unit” whose purpose was “dirty tricks” against supporters of BDS,
In an attempt to attend the Gandhi Peace Award honoring him, Barghouti's attorney went to the Interior Ministry and received a document on March 16 that entitled him to two months of travel. It was seized when he was arrested.
That is the background to his arrest for “tax evasion”. We do not know Barghouti’s side of the story about the tax charges because the case is under a “gag order” and he cannot speak about the case.
Given the history of threats against BDS and Omar Barghouti personally, the assumption should be that the Israeli government is making good on its threat to eliminate Palestinian BDS activists, starting with Omar Barghouti. This appears to be political persecution.