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Letter from Gandhi Peace Award Recipient Omar Barghouti

Dear all,

This is to share with you that Israel has effectively banned me from traveling to Amman, Jordan to accompany my mother during her upcoming critical surgery.

My mother, Wafieh Barghouti, is 75 years old. She was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, and has been fighting it every since with bravery, dignity, and lots of her typically stinging political commentary on Facebook!

Omar Barghouti with his mother Wafieh Barghouti.

Omar Barghouti with his mother Wafieh Barghouti.

For months now, every time I needed to travel to Amman to be with my mother during a chemotherapy session, I had to obtain a court order to temporarily suspend the travel ban imposed on m e by the Israeli authorities.

In response to a n urgent request from my lawyers — that explained my mother’s upcoming surgery and the need for me to be with her — an Israeli court temporarily suspended the travel ban from January 2nd to the 16th, 2018.

However, the Israeli Ministry of Interior , despite being informed about the surgery, has for almost 3 weeks failed to renew my Israeli travel document, without which I cannot travel to Jordan.

My lawyer first applied to the Ministry for the travel document’ s renewal on 17 December 2017 and has followed that up with three urgent letters: on 27 December 2017, 2 January 2018 and today, 4 January 2018. She has also sent to the ministry a copy of a letter written by my mother’s oncologist indicating dates of the surgery and follow-up therapy.

Given the well-established record of the Israeli regime’s all-out war on the nonviolent BDS movement for Palestinian rights and on me personally, I have no doubt that this is yet another form of “punishment&qu ot; for my role in the movement as a human rights defender fighting for freedom, justice and equality.

Imposing a travel ban on me, threatening me with “civil assassination, ” and desperately — and repeatedly — trying to tarnish my reputation all pale in comparison with the war crimes and crimes against humanity (including apartheid) perpetrated by Israel’s regime of oppression against millions of Palestinians.

The siege on 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, denying them basic rights and freedoms …

the denial of the UN-stipulated right to return home for millions of Palestinian refugees …

the endless theft of land and construction of illegal colonial settlements in the occupied West Bank, especially in and around Jerusalem …

the ongoing ethnic cleansing of whole communities in the Naqab and the Jordan Valley …

the dozens of racist Israeli laws and the brutal apartheid regime that makes apartheid in South Africa look like a “picnic” in comparison, as the Speaker of the South African parliament has stated …

the heinous murder in December 2017 of Ibrahim Abu Thurayyah, the double amputee Palestinian hero who was shot in the Gaza ghetto — while protesting with a Palestinian flag — by an Israeli soldier whose savagery reminds us of that of German soldiers in suppressing the Warsaw ghetto uprising …

the repression against Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old Palestinian heroine and symbol of our popular resistance, for daring to slap the occupation in the face, literally and figuratively …

They all reveal not just a brutal oppressor but also a morally bankrupt regime of oppression that is lashing out with utter cruelty and despair after realizing that its support base around the world is fast eroding.

Being part of this great people that is steadfasting and resisting against all odds, I reiterate that all their intimidation and bullying will never deter me from doing what’s right–continuing my modest contribution to my people’s struggle for liberation.

Like almost all Palestinians, I can never accept slavery as fate and will never stop fighting oppression until we can live in justice and dignity.

Mother, forgive me, I shall not be physically with you in your testing time.. Ours is an insignificant sacrifice when compared to our people’s many heart-aching sacrifices. But I’ll be with you in spirit, and I know that you firmly support me in standing up to their bullying and shouting: “We shall overcome.”

Some of you will ask, “what can we do to help? Shall we send letters to the authorities to pressure them?” As most of you will guess, my answer is: Nothing from the outside can pressure Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid like BDS. The time of appeasement and groveling appeals to them to respect our rights must come to an end.

To help lift Israel’s boots off of our necks, I call for more creative, strategic and sustained BDS campaigns, leading to effective international sanctions similar to those imposed on apartheid South Africa. Only then can justice prevail.

Omar Barghouti

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