In a Sept. 23rd Independent op-ed, BDS leader Omar Barghouti, who rejects Israel’s right to exist, responded to the fact that he was unable to speak at the Labour Party conference in Brighton (due to his visa request being delayed) by peddling a conspiracy theory.
I was set to take part in a Labour Party conference fringe event this weekend talking about my work advocating for Palestinian rights – but was unable to travel to Brighton because of a peculiar delay in the processing of my UK visa application. I suspect that Israel’s far-right government has once again outsourced its desperate war of repression against those supporting Palestinian rights to another western government.
Barghouti’s suggestion is clear: that his visa application delay was not the fault of the UK Home Office, or even Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but, rather, the government in Jerusalem – an allegation of Israeli control over foreign governments for which he naturally provides no evidence.
Further in his op-ed, Barghouti – who addressed the Labour conference via a video link – also frames his visa delay as part of what he characterises as a “shrinking space” for pro-Palestinian activism in the UK. Of course, this charge would come as a huge surprise to the those attending the Labour conference, which some likened to a big Palestine Solidarity Campaign rally.
Conversely, Labour Friends of Israel, one of the few pro-Israel groups still affiliated with the party, decided to pull their promotional stand from the annual conference over fears for their staff’s safety after “increasingly toxic comments directed towards them on social media”.
Moreover, the suggestion that the debate about Palestine in the UK is marginalised is further undermined by the fact that large mainstream publications like the Guardian (and Independent) continue to devote a grossly disproportionate amount of coverage to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a topic that’s also debated in Parliament to an obsessive degree.
Finally, it’s interesting that on the same day the Indy published Barghouti’s pro-BDS op-ed, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief published a report linking BDS to antisemitism, noting the frequent use of antisemitic tropes and (like Barghouti himself) the denial of Israel’s right to exist by BDS activists – an unprecedented report contradicting the BDS narrative that the Indy naturally failed to cover.
- The Palestinian obsession at the Labour Party conference (David Collier)