Despite his Arrest PEP Stands Behind Choice
of Omar Barghouti for Gandhi Peace Award
Press Release: March 25, 2017
For more information contact Stanley Heller, 203-934-2761 firstname.lastname@example.org
New Haven, CT. A special meeting of the Board of Directors of Promoting Enduring Peace reaffirmed its choice of Omar Barghouti as co-winner of the Gandhi Peace Award despite his arrest by Israeli authorities. Stanley Heller, the group’s Administrator said, “We have full confidence in Omar Barghouti and assume Israel is carrying through on its threats to harass and silence Palestinian activists. Barghouti is being honored for his leadership in the BDS movement, using the peaceful tactics of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure the Israeli government to respect Palestinian rights.”
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”.
The award ceremony this year is Sunday, April 23 in New Haven at the SSS building, 1 Prospect St. at 4 p.m.
The co-winner of the award is legendary safety and consumer activist Ralph Nader who has also been a strident critic of bloated military budgets and militarism.
As the Israeli government has grown increasingly strident in its denunciation of any resistance to its treatment of Palestinians it has threatened supporter of BDS. In 2015 Israeli President Reuven Revlin called BDS a “strategic threat” implying BDS is a grave physical threat to Israelis .
Israel has adopted laws against BDS. In 2011 it passed a law allowing lawsuits against those who called for boycotts which would allow supposed injured parties to be paid compensation. This year it passed a law barring entry to Israel to any foreigner who publicly called for a boycott.
Threats to Barghouti
Barghouti has been married to an Israeli citizen for decades, but he only has the status of “permanent resident”. He lives in Acre north of Haifa.
On March 28, 2016 the Israel government held an anti-BDS conference in Jerusalem. There Barghouti was denounced by name as a threat. Barghouti was attacked by Ariah Deri, the Minister of Interior, who said he is considering revoking Barghouti’s permanent residency in Israel. At the conference Israeli Minister of Transport, Intelligence and Atomic Energy Yisrael Katz called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders . (see Amnesty International statement)
In May 2016 Barghouti’s permit to travel was revoked by the Israeli government.
The Israeli government also has set up something it called a “Tarnishing Unit” whose purpose was “dirty tricks” against supporters of BDS to tarnish their reputations . (see Haaretz article)
In an attempt to attend the Gandhi Peace Award honoring him, Barghouti went to an Israeli court this month in March of 2017 and won a document that entitled him to two months of travel. Shortly after that he was arrested on alleged tax evasion charges and his travel document was seized.
Stanley Heller said, “The Israeli government has clearly been working itself up to make good on its threats on those who exercise the free speech right to call for boycott. That’s the background to Barghouti’s arrest on March 19 for ‘tax evasion’. We do not know Barghouti’s side of the story about the specific charges, because the case is under an Israeli court ‘gag order’. He and his lawyers are forbidden by the court to speak about the case. This in itself is a violation of his rights.”
Heller continued, “We call on the Israeli government to drop the gag order on the case, dismiss charges against Omar Barghouti and to restore his permission to travel abroad. We understand he is going to court to win his right to travel and hope he will succeed and join us in New Haven on April 23.”
Promoting Enduring Peace’s websites are: