Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine hosted a video talk with Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, yesterday, on Wednesday, April 27. Barghouti was heavily critical of Israel, and claimed that there was a “new McCarthyism” against anti-Israel activists in America. He also alleged that the campaign to condemn or prohibit boycotts of Israel at universities and state legislatures was driven by US and European politicians that had been “bought and paid for by Israel.”
Barghouti went on to make numerous other allegations, including that “Israel relies on buying politicians, and its massive propaganda machine in the US media and Hollywood, to an extent.“ These comments harken back to those of former ASSU Senator Gabriel Knight, except Barghouti referred to “Israel” instead of “Jews.”
In response to a question from the audience, Barghouti also claimed that there “are no anti-Semites in the BDS movement,” and further accused the Israeli government and pro-Israel activists of anti-Semitism for their condemnations of the BDS movement.
Barghouti was also asked about his past studies at Tel Aviv University for his second masters degree and PhD, all while while he was advocating for an academic boycott of Israel. To this, Barghouti responded, “Palestinians have no choice but to use Israeli educational services.” However, Barghouti was born in Qatar, grew up in Egypt, and attended Columbia University and lived in America for 11 years, throwing his assertion of “need” to violate his own boycott into doubt.
One questioner asked Barghouti about whether the BDS movement would boycott Lebanon and Syria for their oppression of Palestinians. Barghouti responded negatively, arguing that these issues were too far removed from the “core problem” that BDS must focus on: Israeli oppression. Yet earlier in the speech, Barghouti maintained that the BDS movement should continue to boycott G4S Security Services even after it halts its Israeli operations, due to its work with police forces in America, a topic seemingly further away from the human rights of Palestinians.
Barghouti, who opposes the two-state solution and has condemned artistic and academic collaborations between Palestinians and Israelis as “providing Israel with a figleaf covering up Israel’s relentless colonisation of Palestinian land and its crimes against the Palestinian people,” is one of the leading proponents of the BDS movement.