No Nelson Mandela

Barghouti wants his readers to sympathize with his “sacrifice,” a term which has a positive connotation, as does “martyrdom” – except when spoken by terrorists.

Marwan Barghouti, seen here at the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court in 2012, is currently serving five life sentences for murder (photo credit: REUTERS)
Marwan Barghouti, seen here at the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court in 2012, is currently serving five life sentences for murder
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Imagine this: Terry Nichols, who carried out the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, publishes an op-ed in The New York Times, in which he compares himself to Nelson Mandela, no less. He relates to himself as a freedom fighter, claims that he seeks peace, dignity and freedom, bashes the authorities for his “arbitrary arrest” and accuses the federal prison staff of torture and systematic infringement of human rights.
He says nothing about the 168 people he murdered and the article concludes with: “Terry Nichols is a businessman and former US Army soldier.”
I assume my American friends would have a few harsh words for the convicted mass murderer, as well as for the paper that gave him a voice.
An April 16 New York Times op-ed by Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti is no different.
Quick recap: As leader of Tanzim, the terrorist offshoot of Fatah, Barghouti planned, approved and directed multiple terrorist attacks, both in the West Bank and within the Green Line. He was convicted on five counts of murder and assisting in four other attacks, and sentenced to five life sentences.
I would have strongly recommended that the Times refrain from serving as a propaganda tool for terrorists. At the very least it would have been appropriate to explain to readers who the writer is, and not state drily that he is “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian” (seriously?).
But now that it’s out there, I do recommend reading it, because it serves as a lesson on the power of narrative manipulation, and how terrorists skillfully exploit democratic tools and values against those who hold them dear.
Claiming to be a “witness to and a victim of Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests,” Barghouti shapes an image of a passive, innocent bystander who has been senselessly snatched and illegally incarcerated by the brutal Israelis.
Barghouti was no witness, but the perpetrator.
And he is no victim, but a murderer who inflicted pain and suffering on many innocent victims.
He repeats the phrase “mass arbitrary arrests” twice throughout his emotional plea, attempting to instill this ridiculous falsehood in the minds of people who don’t live in Israel and don’t know the truth. Barghouti would have you think that Israel is not trying to defend itself from brutal terrorism, but conspiring to “break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong.”
This concoction of nonsense needs no explaining, but as someone who has spent many years planning and executing counter- terrorism operations, and having closely observed Israel’s prisons, I must attest that this claim is a despicable lie.
“Hunger striking is the most peaceful form of resistance available,” righteous Barghouti preaches. I don’t know about you, but when a mass murderer uses the term “peaceful” it makes me sick.
He then references “dark [prison] cells,” attempting to portray harsh conditions imposed by Israeli authorities. I actually visited Barghouti’s prison, so again I can attest that he’s lying. Not only is his cell well lit, but the abundance of books supplied by Israel Prison Service enabled him to complete a PhD in political science within his prison cell.
His academic degree is, of course, deliberately omitted from his credentials at the end of the op-ed, for this piece of information would tarnish the image he has so carefully constructed.
Barghouti wants his readers to sympathize with his “sacrifice,” a term which has a positive connotation, as does “martyrdom” – except when spoken by terrorists.
Barghouti makes every attempt to vilify Israelis, and he not only twists, omits and inflates, but makes serious allegations relating to torture during interrogation when he was 18 years old. It’s impossible to relate to such claims about something that may or may not have happened four decades ago.
Today Israel has strict laws prohibiting torture, which are so carefully monitored and enforced that authorities sometimes feel as if their hands are tied, even when trying to extract vital “ticking bomb” intelligence before an imminent attack. That’s right – sometimes Israeli civilians die because of the self-imposed boundaries of democracy.
The entire piece is fraught with absurdities, but some stand out more than others.
If this were not such a serious matter, it would be amusing to see a terrorist arguing about international law and lamenting “breaches of the Geneva Conventions.”
But on a serious note, certainly he couldn’t be lying about everything, could he? Well, why would a terrorist have moral reservations about lying? If killing innocent civilians is justified in fulfilling his political goals, then certainly utilizing a prestigious platform for winning hearts and minds is an accepted means.
And it works. It’s truly difficult to read this moving text and turn it all down as manipulation. Without appropriate background and context, his words garner sympathy and solidarity. What human being wouldn’t be touched by the words “struggle for freedom”? “Our chains will be broken before we are” cries out the martyr, the saint, the champion of peace and justice. “Freedom and dignity are universal rights,” declares Barghouti, and wisely coins this as the slogan for his campaign.
Narrative manipulation continues to the very last word: “Only ending occupation will end this injustice and mark the birth of peace.”
Again that word – “peace.” Smart move.
But we must relate to all these words as if uttered by Terry Nichols.
Yes, Mr. Barghouti, you are a terrorist.
And you certainly are no Nelson Mandela.
The writer is a cross-cultural analyst. He can be reached at