He was recognized for his role as a human rights defender and co-founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.
Barghouti was introduced by Rebecca Vilkomerson, director of Jewish Voice for Peace, who cited his role in pushing her organization to fully endorse the Palestinian call for BDS.
“Twelve years ago, we were called romantic dreamers or worse,” Barghouti said in his acceptance speech, recalling the beginnings of the BDS movement. “Today, our fast-growing movement is recognized as being so strong as to be fought by the full force of Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, and by its partners in crime in the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia, among others.”
Dedicating the award to hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners and Palestinian refugees, Barghouti said the monetary sum that comes with it would be equally divided among Black Lives Matter and four other US organizations that work for Palestinian rights.
Watch the whole speech in the video above.
Israel lobby upset
In a sign of how fearful major US institutions remain of offending Israel’s powerful lobby, Yale University, where the ceremony took place, issued what a local newspaper called “an unusual statement distancing the university from endorsing the Gandhi event.”
On Monday, The New Haven Register published an article by leaders of local Israel lobby groups attacking Barghouti and smearing the BDS movement.
Barghouti’s attendance at the Yale ceremony had been in doubt. As part of its effort to crush the BDS movement, Israel has targeted him for harassment.
In the past year, Barghouti has been subjected to a travel ban and open threats by Israel’s top ministers.
During a “Stop the Boycott” conference held in Jerusalem last year, Gilad Erdan, Israel’s public security and strategic affairs minister, vowed that BDS activists “will know they will pay a price for it.”
Singling out Barghouti, Erdan, who is responsible for spearheading Israel’s assault on the global BDS movement, added, “We will soon be hearing more of our friend Barghouti.”
During the same conference, which was attended by EU and US diplomats, Israel’s intelligence minister Yisrael Katz called for the thwarting of the BDS leadership, using the same Hebrew term used by the military for “targeted killing,” or extrajudicial execution.
In the latest chapter of that campaign, in mid-March, Israeli authorities detained and interrogated Barghouti over several days in a tax fraud investigation.
Barghouti has condemned the investigation as part of Israel’s “McCarthyite witch hunt” and denounced the “vicious lies published by Israel’s regime against me.”