[Opinion] No, Omar Barghouti is not a co-founder of the Israel boycott movement BDS
When Omar Barghouti was recently barred from entering the UK, many media reports, including in the Jewish Chronicle, referred to him as founder (or co-founder) of the Israel boycott movement BDS.
This is factually incorrect: he was added for marketing purposes four years after the BDS launch and first boycotts in the UK, and the details are important.
In reality, the BDS movement was officially launched in September 2001 at the NGO Forum of the infamous and antisemitic UN World Conference on the Elimination of Racism, held in Durban, South Africa. The instigators were a group of radically and politically powerful non-governmental organisations with visceral anti-Israel agendas. At Durban, officials from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) allied with South African and Palestinian groups to demand “the complete international isolation of Israel as an apartheid state…”
The mechanisms included boycotts, such as were used against the real apartheid in South Africa. Omar Barghouti was not involved in any of this — he was not a “founder”.
A few months later, using the excuse of the IDF anti-terror operation in Jenin, the first boycotts began. Trotskyite cells in the British academic union manipulated votes to get support for boycotts of Israeli universities, and groups such as War on Want ran demonising campaigns that promoted sanctions targeting Israel.