Last March Israeli ministeri Israel Katz called for ‘civil targeted killing’ of leaders of BDS movement, including Omar Barghouti.
Yesterday Israel made its move and arrested Barghouti for ‘tax evasion’, claiming that he – a permanent resident of Israel, whose wife is a Palestinian citizen of Israel – should have paid tax to Israel on income from his company on Ramallah in the occupied West Bank and on speaking tours in the United States.
Whether the accusation stands – and we have to remember that Israel’s judicial system is utterly politicized – the fact that the accusation has been made is the only thing that Israel needs to run a campaign against Barghouti to destroy his reputation and to hurt BDS movement through him.
At this point silence is not the right way to react, but to challenge the accusation directly as a political move and link it to similar charges Israel has made against Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders and peace activists in the past.
Barghouti has now been released, but Israel is using the charge to stop him from travelling abroad and a conviction could be used to rescind his residency right and exile him to Jordan, whose citizenship he holds.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, Israel is put on a pedestal in the West, and treated as if it were above international law. BDS seeks to end this Israeli exceptionalism and criminal impunity. Israel must be treated like any other state committing similarly egregious crimes.
– Omar Barghouti, from Interview: The Man behind the BDS movement by Rami Younis.