It’s Israel’s duty to expose Barghouti as a crook
Op-ed: Perhaps one day, Marwan Barghouti will lead the Palestinians to a historic compromise. In the meantime, however, he is a Hamas collaborator and an enemy of the possibility to renew the peace process. Weakening him, under the current circumstances, is the right thing to do.
We want peace. We fight for peace. But in the meantime we must remember that we are in a state of war. Not one war, but two wars. One is taking place on the battlefield. Hamas drags us there every few years. This war is being waged on a lower key, both through the knifing and stone-throwing terror attacks and through different other measures targeting Israel nonstop.
The second war is a war on the collective consciousness. A war of demonization. A war that seeks to present Israel as a monster. This war has had quite a lot of achievements.
The jailed terrorists, from Fatah and Hamas, have become full partners in both wars. Some of them try to launch and plan terror attacks from prison. Others try to present themselves as martyrs fighting for “an end to the occupation” or for “liberation.” Every other prisoner tries to present himself as a freedom fighter, and every other prisoner is actually Nelson Mandela. It’s true that they murdered civilians and babies and women and elderly people. And it’s true that when they say “an end to the occupation,” they are referring to Tel Aviv as well. And it’s true that their liberation is sort of like the Islamic State is liberating Iraq and Hamas is liberating Gaza. But in the war on the collective consciousness, they are winning.
This war is being led by the most famous prisoner, Marwan Barghouti, who has been very successful. He got into the New York Times immediately after launching the prisoners’ hunger strike, as a freedom fighter against the occupation. Fake news found its way even into one of the world’s leading newspapers. The newspaper had to be pressured to publish a clarification that he is a terrorist who was jailed after being lawfully convicted.
Barghouti isn’t fighting for a historic compromise. He is fighting for his place in the Palestinian leadership. He has turned himself into a bridge between rival factions Fatah and Hamas—the same Hamas which, as part of a facelift, recently presented a political platform that is the same old thing under a different cloak. In fact, it is a return to the 2006 Palestinian prisoners’ document, which aimed to bridge between Fatah and Hamas. At the time, the parties agreed—as they have now—to create a joint front for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders while implementing the right of return. In other words, a Palestinian state and another state, which will become Palestinian as well. At that time too, Barghouti was the leading figure.
US President Donald Trump, who is actually determined to reach some kind of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, is in the background of all of this. Barghouti and his friends’ main fear is that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, with the little power left in him, will take part in ending the stalemate. Barghouti must do everything in his power to make Abbas fail and upgrade his own status to the rank of the Palestinian leader.
With that in mind, exposing Barghouti as a crook—who sends other to starve while he eats behind their backs—is a legitimate move, because the purpose of the hunger strike is to create unrest in the territories. Unrest means riots and terrorism. Unrest means thwarting any White House initiative. Unrest also means bloodshed. Weakening Barghouti, therefore, under the current circumstances, is the most justified thing to do.
In the 1990s Barghouti used to be one of the leaders of the moderate approach. It’s possible that, one day, we will be able to talk to him again. It’s possible that, under future circumstances, he will be able to lead the Palestinians to a historic compromise. Inshallah. In the meantime, however, Barghouti is a Hamas collaborator and an enemy of the possibility, as slim as it may be, to renew the peace process. It’s our duty to expose him as the crook he is.