The Deceptive Language of Omar Barghouti

BDS activist Omar Barghouti at a pro-boycott rally in Ramallah, February 2016. (YouTube screen capture)

In Omar Barghouti’s opinion piece this week in The Nation entitled Why Americans Should Support BDS, he once again misleads Western audiences of his true intentions by intentionally using nuanced language meant to deceive. He presents the BDS movement to western audiences as a social justice movement when in reality; it is a political movement that seeks the destruction of Israel.

He claims that the BDS movement does not target individuals, yet athletes such as Lionel Messi and artists such as Paul McCartney received death threats from BDS activists for merely scheduling to visit Israel to play a friendly soccer match and perform at a concert.

Mr. Barghouti describes Israel as an apartheid state, denigrating the true meaning of that term. With roughly 1.8 million Arab citizens of Israel, accounting for nearly 20% of the population, Israel has never practiced racial segregation; it is the only real democracy in the Middle East, where Arabs sit in the country’s Parliament and on its Supreme Court; while over 22% of the student body of the Technion, Israel’s version of MIT, are Arab students. Israel also has progressive laws when it comes to free speechgender equality, as well as LGBTQ rights.

He often discusses Palestinian self-determination, but has denied Jews have any right to self-determination of their own, claiming that only the Palestinians have “inalienable rights” to self-determination, while Israeli Jews, whom he refers to as a settler-colonial population, despite over 3,000 years of historical ties to the land, have only “acquired rights” to reside there.  He could not be clearer when he states: “Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.” He considers “Palestine” to be comprised of today’s Israel, Gaza and West Bank.

When he talks about the Palestinian right of return, his view is as much an affront to securing a peace deal as the settler movement is, with both taking a maximalist view of the territory. He seeks to claim all of the land from the river to the sea as Palestinian when he states: “If the refugees were to return, you would not have a two-state solution, you’d have a Palestine next to a Palestine,” and even states “there is no reason why it should not be renamed Palestine.”  His talk of a one-state solution as a means to peace is just empty rhetoric when he states: “I am completely and categorically against bi-nationalism because it assumes that there are two nations with equal moral claims to the land.”

He speaks of coexistence, but the PACBI charter, which he helped to author, expressly rejects coexistence between Arabs and Jews and instead preaches only “co-resistance,” which even rejects “cooperating with the leftist Zionists (ie: Jews) who take part in demonstrations or call themselves peace activists. Those left Zionists (Jews) do not care about the Palestinian rights.” Instead of trying to bring people together and engage through dialogue, through the BDS movement’s anti-normalization policy, they seek to block any interaction between Palestinians and Jews.

True peace between the Israelis and Palestinians will only come once people like Mr. Barghouti realize that the State of Israel is a fact and instead of pursuing its destruction and dismantlement, they pursue a genuine peace based on mutual recognition and a two-state solution.

About the Author
Ari Ingel is an international attorney, director of a non-profit and foreign policy analyst. Follow him on twitter at
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