Arab students protest Israel at TAU
Arab students protest Israel at TAUIsrael News Photo: Flash 90

Omar Barghouti, an outspoken anti-Israel activist who has accused the Jewish state of “genocide,” is currently a doctoral student at Tel Aviv University. Barghouti, who is studying philosophy with a specialization in ethics, is at the same time calling on the international community to boycott Israeli academics and universities.

While Barghouti has learned at TAU for some time while calling for it and other Israeli schools to be boycotted, it was his statements following Operation Cast Lead in Gaza that apparently spurred his fellow students to action. Following Barghouti's latest speeches abroad accusing Israel of murder and genocide, and of planning a Holocaust against Arabs, more than 11,500 people have signed a petition calling for him to be dealt with. The petition offers three options: convincing Barghouti that his position is intellectually dishonest, suing him for libel, or expelling him from the school.

The petition, created by Israel Academic Monitor, calls Omar Barghouti “an especially strident and persuasive voice” in the campaign to “demonize and delegitimize” Israel. "What makes his work especially repugnant is his wide use of half-truth, selective omission and outright lie. He is clearly an enemy of Israel... As Israel citizens we are dismayed that an academic institution, which gets part of our hard-earned taxes to keep it going, is enabling such a person to use its facilities,” it continues.

Barghouti is a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which calls to boycott every Israeli, from researchers to authors to dancers, until they agree to demand that the Israeli government give in to Arab demands, including the demand to grant citizenship to millions of foreign Arabs who claim descent from Arabs who fled Israel during the War of Independence.

Among those millions would be Barghouti himself, who was born in Qatar and grew up in Egypt, but identifies as “Palestinian” because his parents were born in an area now controlled by the PA. His parents have chosen not to return to their place of birth, preferring to remain in Jordan.

Barghouti has chosen not to respond to the controversy, stating only that his studies at TAU are “a personal matter.”