Marwan Barghouti Is No Nelson Mandela

April 19 2017

For several years, Western media have regularly painted Marwan Barghouti—the Fatah official, imprisoned by Israel, who masterminded the second intifada—as a Palestinian peacemaker on the model of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. Just this past weekend, the New York Times ran a lengthy op-ed piece by Barghouti touting a planned prisoners’ hunger strike, vilifying Israel, and presenting himself as a victim of arbitrary arrest and brutal confinement as a mere political activist; obligingly, the Times identified its guest author, who in fact is serving four life sentences for multiple murders of Israeli civilians, only as a “Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” Dexter van Zile writes about the travesty of equating the blood-soaked master terrorist with Mandela:

Mandela . . . had the foresight and courage to demand that the African National Congress abandon its view of the white South Africans as European colonialists who had no right to live in Africa. . . . In the Palestinian context, a would-be Mandela would have to confront and contend with religious, not racial issues. Many so-called peace-and-justice activists would have us believe that the primary obstacles to peace are Jewish claims to the West Bank, but the real challenge is Muslim supremacism. The Palestinian elite wields power because of its willingness to, at the very least, pay lip service to this supremacism. This is how Yasir Arafat achieved and stayed in power, and how Mahmoud Abbas has remained president of the Palestinian Authority. By way of comparison, the African National Congress under Mandela’s leadership did not promote an ideology of black supremacism, and Mandela himself repudiated such ideas time and again.

Efforts to portray Barghouti as a Palestinian Mandela obfuscate the issue of his beliefs, which are antithetical to those of Mandela. For example, in a March 2014 Guardian article . . . Martin Linton declared that Barghouti “always opposed actions targeting Israeli civilians, even while defending the right of Palestinians to resist.” This claim appears to be based on an op-ed Barghouti wrote for the Washington Post in 2002, in which he asserted, “While I, and the Fatah movement to which I belong, strongly oppose attacks and the targeting of civilians inside Israel [i.e., within the pre-1967 borders], our future neighbor, I reserve the right to protect myself, to resist the Israeli occupation of my country, and to fight for my freedom.”

There’s just one problem: Barghouti certainly did support attacks on civilians, and we know this because he explicitly said so in public. Moreover, he acted according to his beliefs. Prior to his arrest in 2002, he was the leader of Tanzim and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, terrorist organizations responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israeli civilians on both sides of the Green Line.

Read more at Tower

More about: Israel & Zionism, Marwan Barghouti, Nelson Mandela, New York Times, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount