NEW YORK — The Arab American Institute today announced that Omar Barghouti, a prominent Palestinian activist and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, was denied entry into the United States at Ben Gurion Airport despite having valid travel documents. Barghouti had a U.S. visa valid through January 2021 and was told by airline staff that the U.S. Consulate was denying his travel.
Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, issued the following comment in response:
"This looks like an ideological exclusion, which is a long-discredited form of government censorship that prevents Americans from meeting with and hearing from a speaker whose views the government dislikes. Ideological exclusion was used in the past to revoke or deny visas to some of the world’s leading writers, artists, and thinkers. If the Trump administration is using this political censorship tool again, it’s a disgrace and a violation of Americans' First Amendment rights. The Trump administration should not decide which ideas Americans can and cannot hear directly from speakers."
The ACLU takes no position on the Israel-Palestine conflict or the BDS movement, but has long challenged ideological exclusion.