In a NY Times article “Zero Dark Zero”, well-known columnist Roger Cohen wrote
“As Omar Barghouti, a leader of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, put it recently to Yale students: ‘If the refugees were to return, you would not have a two-state solution, you’d have a Palestine next to a Palestine’.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/opinion/global/zero-dark-zero.html?_r=0
When he learned that this statement was not made at Yale, Cohen checked with Mr. Barghouti and the NY Times published a corrected version of the above paragraph omitting the reference to Yale and adding the explanation that an earlier version gave the wrong venue for the quote by Omar Barghouti who actually used these words at the University of Ottawa, adding that Barghouti says he was quoting a well-known position of Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem.
Adam Horowitz, co-editor of Mondoweiss took Roger Cohen to task for what he described as recycling an out-of-context quote from Omar Barghouti that has become popular among Israel supporters looking to smear the BDS movement. It is difficult to understand why quoting the ACTUAL words of Mr. Barghouti could be considered an effort to “smear” him unless of course Mr. Barghouti is embarrassed by making public, views that he expresses only to restricted audiences. This is quite likely as in a May 2, 2011 article in New Matilda titled “Setting The Record Straight On BDS“, Barghouti refers to what he calls a baseless claim that BDS aims at a Palestine next to a Palestine rather than a Palestine next to Israel. He wrote
“This is categorically false; I NEVER MADE THIS STATEMENT“. [emphasis added] http://newmatilda.com/2011/05/02/setting-record-straight-bds
The fact is that Barghouti did make that statement in answer to a question at a Q&A session at Ottawa University on March 4, 2009. As recorded in this video clip http://youtu.be/5oJRriJ2tY8 , he said
“I DO NOT BUY INTO THE TWO STATE SOLUTION. It is not just pragmatically impossible it was never a moral solution.. The first issue would be the right of return but if the refugees were to return you cannot have a two state solution like one Palestinian commentator remarked, YOU WILL HAVE A PALESTINIAN STATE NEXT TO A PALESTINIAN STATE RATHER THAN A PALESTINIAN STATE NEXT TO ISRAEL”
Surely quoting the words of a leader is perfectly legitimate in helping to understand him and the organization he represents. For example quoting Mr. Barghouti’s statement that his call for BDS would not end if there is an end to the occupation, as recorded in the above video clip, tells us a lot more about the true nature of the BDS objectives than any of his lectures.
President Obama, Jordan’s King Abdulla, Tony Blair, the Quartet and many others including president of the Al-Quds University Sari Nusseibeh all rule out the so-called right of return in order to achieve a two-state solution. And I am sure that many well-intentioned persons support BDS in the mistaken belief that its aims coincide with those of these world leaders. They would be shocked to learn that the most important BDS leaders Omar Barghouti and Ali Abunimah reject this peaceful solution, admitting to restricted audiences only, that the true objective of BDS is destruction of Israel by flooding it with millions of Palestinians.
In an interview with Electronic Intifada on May 31, 2009 Barghouti said
“..you cannot reconcile the right of return for refugees with a two state solution. That is the big white elephant in the room and people are ignoring it — A RETURN FOR REFUGEES WOULD END ISRAEL’S EXISTENCE AS A JEWISH STATE. The right of return is a basic right that cannot be given away; it’s inalienable”.http://electronicintifada.net/content/boycotts-work-interview-omar-barghouti/8263
Mr Barghouti is on shaky grounds in his claim that third fourth and subsequent generations of Palestinians have a right of return in terms of resolution 194. See http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id226.html . Many millions of non-Palestinian refugees have been resettled and absorbed with no right of return and most recently, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the right of displaced Cypriots to return to their homes lost when Turkey invaded in 1974.
At the Yale meeting Barghouti said that of the total Palestinian population of 11.6 million 69% (approximately 8 million) are refugees eligible under what he considers to be the right of return to Israel. (UNRWA estimates the number to be about 5 million).
To the wider public, Barghouti denies the true BDS goal of extinguishing Israel as in his abovementioned article in New Matilda. This denial is of course blatantly inconsistent with his statement at Ottowa and in an article he contributed to Electronic Intifada in 2004 in which he said
“The two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is really dead. Good riddance”
As published in Mondoweiss Mr. Barghouti told Mr. Horowitz that he was quoting Sari Nusseibeh’s recommended solution to scrap the right of return whereas his (Barghouti’s) solution, in rebuttal, was to scrap two states.
To New Matilda readers he offered a completely different explanation, this time blaming Israel. He claimed the remark was first stated by an (unnamed) prominent Palestinian academic who argued that the right of return of Palestinian refugees in accordance with international law would lead, from an Israeli perspective, to a Palestine next to a Palestine and that Israel would not allow this aspect of international law to be implemented in order to maintain its ethnocentric and exclusivist nature in a two-state settlement.
More surprisingly he wrote
“I insisted that the right of refugees to return home is deeply enshrined in international law and that implementing it WOULD NOT “DESTROY” ANYONE OR ANY PEOPLE”.
which directly contradicts his 2004 statement to Electronic Intifada that the true aim of BDS is “euthanasia” for Israel.
It would also come as a shock to many supporters of BDS to realize the true attitude of BDS leaders to the PA Authority. This is what Barghouti wrote in a 2004 article in The Electronic Intifada
“In the West Bank you have a largely quisling [traitor] government that is completely supporting Israel in anything it wants to do”.
On October 2009 he wrote in Electronic intifada
“The PA government there has illegally appropriated the PLO’s authority to conduct Palestinian diplomacy and set foreign policy, conceding Palestinian rights and acting against Palestinian national interests, without worrying about accountability to any elected representatives of the Palestinian people”.
It should be obvious to all sincere believers in a fair and equitable solution to the Arab-Israel conflict that due to its covert agenda, this peaceful objective is being impeded rather than enhanced by supporting the BDS movement.