A Palestinian activist has blamed the “Zionist lobby” after he was refused entry to the UK, pointing to a recent article about his planned visit in Jewish News.
Iyad Burnat, who is the coordinator of the popular Bil’in resistance committee and had been due to undertake a nationwide book tour, said he was told he had been barred for failing to declare a previous entry refusal.
But in a Facebook post tonight, Burnat, who was granted a UK visa last year, insisted “it is not paranoid to suggest” the decision is the result of “pressure by the Zionist lobby” as it comes two weeks after Jewish News revealed a series of incendiary messages posted on Burnat’s social media account in recent months.
One message, accompanied by an image of Benjamin Netanyahu with his arm outstretched and wearing a Hitler-style moustache, said: “Three aspects of modern organized terrorism in which many similarities emerged and is Nazism and Zionism and (ISIS) Daash.”
Another said: “To the American people do not bother to vote in the elections. The Zionists had identified the next president.”
He wrote: “We are witnessing in the UK targeted and systematic attacks against Palestinian activists and supporters of the legitimate and moral BDS movement, as well as an increase in the denial of visas to Palestinians wishing to visit Britain to share their stories of living under the Israeli state’s brutal and illegal 6&-year occupation.”
Burnat who had been due to speak about his new book to branches of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, asked for support in his appeal of the home office decision.
In a letter to this newspaper last weekend, Burnat first insisted that as a Palestinian Arab he too is a Semite.
He insisted he is “absolutely not” anti-Jewish and described any suggestion of it as “insulting especially given that as a Palestinian I suffer racism on a daily basis. I have many Jewish friends, including Jewish Israelis, who support me and my kin in our quest to end the Occupation and secure a just freedom and peace, that will enable us to have self-determination”.
Claiming there is a “desperate and orchestrated attempt to conflate legitimate criticism of Israel” and anti-Semitism, he added: “How dare you trivialise our 68year Nakba by changing the subject of my post from being about our right, as fellow human beings sharing this planet, to live without oppression and subjugation to a ridiculous claim of a form of racism! Your article demonstrates clearly that it is you that is racist and fails to see that it is us Palestinians that were wronged and continue to be wronged.”
Seeking to justify the post about the US president, he said: “It is accepted by many that without AIPAC’s approval a candidate cannot hope to be selected as the representative for the main two parties in the presidential campaign.”
The Community Security Trust’s Mark Gardner said last month of the Facebook posts: “This seems to be another example of supposed anti-Zionism that is in fact antisemitic. PSC say they oppose such attitudes, so let us see what action they now take.”
In June, Jeremy Corbyn called for Hitler and Nazi metaphors to be left out of discourse on Israel during the release of Labour’s inquiry on anti-Semitism. It’s unclear whether the Labour leader remains a patron of the PSC, though he is still listed as such on the group’s website.
The PSC says on its website that discrimination against Jews based on their religion or ethnicity must be challenged. But it opposes the EUMC definition of anti-Semitism, arguing its adoption would “deny people the right to challenge the racism of the Israeli state – which privileges the rights of jewish citizens above those of non-Jews”.