Arrest of Omar Barghouti Complicates Gandhi Peace Award

by Stanley Heller, Administrator, PEP

At 4 p.m. on April 23, Promoting Enduring Peace is to hold its 46th Gandhi Peace Award ceremony, honoring consumer activist and Pentagon critic Ralph Nader and Palestinian BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activist Omar Barghouti. On March 19, Israeli authorities arrested Barghouti supposedly for “tax evasion.” (Download the event flyer here)

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 the arrest. The Board has full confidence in Omar Barghouti and assumes that Israel is carrying through on its threats to harass and silence Palestinian activists. Barghouti is being honored for his leadership in the BDS movement, which uses the peaceful tactics of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure the Israeli government to respect Palestinian rights.

The Gandhi Peace Award has been awarded 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 will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 23 in New Haven at the Strathcona Hall, 1 Prospect St.

In the past year the Israeli government has threatened BDS activists and Omar Barghouti in particular. At a conference in Jerusalem one Israeli minister called for Barghouti to be denied residence rights in Israel. Another called for the “civil targeted elimination” of BDS leaders. Last May Barghouti’s travel permit was revoked. Now he’s been arrested (though released on bail).

You can sign a petition urging the Israeli government to drop the gag order Omar Barghouti’s case, dismiss the charges, and restore his permission to travel abroad and to return to his home.

We could use your help in gaining Barghouti’s ability to come to the U.S. for the award and for the ceremony in general. Contact PEP at office@pepeace.org.

Seeking Your Help to Protect Next Gandhi Peace Award Winner

by Stanley Heller, Administrator, PEP

Promoting Enduring Peace has set up a “Freedom to Travel” committee to pressure the Israeli government to allow one of its Gandhi Peace Award winners to travel to the United States. At a telephone press conference the 64-year-old peace and environmental group announced the Gandhi Peace Award will be given jointly to Ralph Nader (pictured on the left) and Omar Barghouti (right) at a ceremony in New Haven in April 2017.

nader-and-barghouti-620x330

Ralph Nader is known for over five decades for his consumer and civic activism and for being among the first nationally known figures to criticize Israeli abuses and to speak up in support of the Israeli peace movement. Omar Barghouti is one of the best-known leaders of the BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) movement which calls for economic pressure against Israel until it withdraws from the land it occupies, gives full civic equality to Palestinians citizens inside Israel and allows Palestinian refugee families their right to return to their homeland and homes.

Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, talked about Omar Barghouti. He said the Palestinian was a “central player in the Palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.” And “Omar’s voice has been a crucial one in the past several years and one that should be increasingly amplified to all those asking about Palestinian non-violence.”
Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said she first met Barghouti in 2009 and that’s when Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) starting working on BDS issues. She hailed Barghouti’s leadership and “impeccable ethical framework” and his continued work “at great cost and risk to himself.”

The Israeli government has refused to renew Barghouti’s travel document and he is effectively banned from leaving Palestine/Israel. Vilkomerson said JVP would be working with PEP and other groups to restore Barghouti’s ability to travel and to come to the U.S. to accept the award.

Those interested in working on the “Freedom to Travel” committee should write to office@pepeace.org. A recent TSVN You Tube interview with Barghouti can be heard by going to http://www.pepeace.org.