Freed to travel, Barghouti will receive Gandhi award on Sunday at Yale

This is special: On Sunday afternoon at Yale, Omar Barghouti, a leader of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS), will receive a Gandhi peace award, along with Ralph Nader…..

This is special: On Sunday afternoon at Yale, Omar Barghouti, a leader of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS), will receive a Gandhi peace award, along with Ralph Nader. At the last minute Barghouti was allowed by an Israeli judge to travel to the States.

Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace will introduce Barghouti.

JVP’s recent conference in Chicago included a video’d shoutout to Barghouti, who was then jailed by Israel on alleged tax offenses and facing days of interrogation. The arrest came at the same time as a new law barring travel to Israel by those supporting BDS, and as a government minister was vowing to undertake the civil “elimination” of BDS supporters.

After his release, Barghouti was subjected to a gag order and barred from leaving Palestine. Israel was pursuing a “McCarthyite witchhunt” against him, he told EI. But a judge reportedly suspended the travel ban.

The group Promoting Enduring Peace put out this press release yesterday:

An Israeli judge agreed to temporarily suspend the travel ban on Omar Barghouti. As a result he will be coming to the United States this weekend to accept the Gandhi Peace Award in person. The co-winner of the award is consumer and peace activist Ralph Nader.

Stanley Heller, Administrator of Promoting Enduring Peace said, “We’re delighted that Omar Barghouti will be able to come to the United States to accept this well-deserved award for his leadership in the non-violent struggle for Palestinian human rights. It comes at a time when the U.S. Congress is taking up bills to deny Americans the right to boycott Israel’s system of occupation and apartheid as many had done against apartheid South Africa. Barghouti will able to give a first-hand account of life for Palestinians under draconian Israeli government rule and the exact nature of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement which he helped found.”

The ceremony honoring both Barghouti and co-winner Ralph Nader will take place on Sunday, April 23. The award ceremony will be held in New Haven at the SSS building of Yale, 1 Prospect St. at 4 p.m. Attendance is free and open to the public. The media is invited to attend and record.

There was doubt whether Barghouti could come to the United States. He has been threatened by Israeli officials for years leading Amnesty International to voice concern for his safety. Last year his travel document was not renewed, constituting an effective travel ban.

The Gandhi Peace Award has been given out for over fifty years. It was first given to former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Other laureates include Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, Amy Goodman, Rabbis Arik Ascherman and Ehud Bandel, Bill McKibben, Medea Benjamin, Tom Goldtooth, and Kathy Kelly. Promoting Enduring Peace was originally founded in 1952 to foster world peace, in particular to help prevent a world war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and has since embraced efforts to avoid catastrophic climate change and species extinction. Its motto is: “Peace on Earth, Peace with Earth”.

About our Honorees

Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights defender. He is a co-founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. He holds bachelors and master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University, NY, and a master’s in Philosophy (ethics) from Tel Aviv University. He is the author of, BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights . His commentaries and interviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the Guardian, Politico, and on Bloomberg TV, MSNBC, CNN, BBC, among others. He spoke at Yale University in 2013.

He is a “permanent resident” of Israel but does not have citizenship rights there. In March of 2016 he was threatened with “civil targeted assassination” by a high Israeli government official; Amnesty International has condemned these threats, expressing concern for Barghouti’s “safety and liberty” and upholding his right as a human rights defender to campaign “to hold Israel accountable for human rights and other international law violations” and to advocate “for the use of non-violent means in doing so.” Later that year his permanent travel permit was revoked and only legal action gets him travel permits from time to time.

On March 19 Barghouti was arrested in Acre, Israel and questioned about “tax evasion” and interrogated for days. He was released on bail, but the case was put under a “gag order”. His travel document was seized. Promoting Enduring Peace sent a petition signed by over 800 people to Prime Minister Netanyahu urging Barghouti be allowed to travel.

Barghouti will be introduced by Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace. At a recent membership meeting in Chicago the JVP audience of 1,000 applauded Barghouti in solidarity.

Our other honoree is Ralph Nader. Nader has been one of America’s most effective social critics for over 50 years. His inspiration and example have galvanized a whole population of consumer advocates, citizen activists, and public interest lawyers who in turn have established their own organizations throughout the country.

As a crusading attorney he first made headlines in 1965 with his book Unsafe at Any Speed, a scathing indictment that lambasted the auto industry for producing unsafe vehicles. The book led to congressional hearings and a series of automobile safety laws passed in 1966. Since 1966, Nader has been responsible for: at least eight major federal consumer protection laws such as the motor vehicle safety laws, Safe Drinking Water Act; the launching of federal regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Consumer Product Safety Administration; the recall of millions of defective motor vehicles; access to government through the Freedom of Information Act of 1974; and for many lives saved.

In the political realm Nader has raised not only consumer issues, but the need for peace. He spoke out against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006 . While most politicians gave 100% support to Israeli militarism Nader talked about the need to act together with the Israeli peace movement. He has called for the U.S. to support the treaties with Native American nations that were solemnly adopted by Congress and then ignored with racist disregard. In a 2013 article criticizing the continual use by the owner of the Washington professional football team of the brutal epithet “redskin” for the name of the team, Nader recalled his visits to Indian reservations as a Harvard Law School student

His most recent initiative was Breaking Through Power a conference in Washington D.C. where 80 speakers talked about how citizens can reduce inequalities of power to create a better society.

Nader lives in Winsted, Connecticut.

Nader will be introduced by Charles Pillsbury. Pillsbury is a mediator, lawyer, and long time community activist in New Haven, Connecticut, where he is the co-director of the Center on Dispute Resolution at Quinnipiac University School of Law. He also has served as the first executive director of Mediators Beyond Borders International.