Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mustafa Barghouti: What Happened to Marwan?

The Huffington Post has been working hard over the past few months to promote Marwan Barghouti as the answer to the question of "Where is the Palestinian Mandela?" Blog posts by Yermi Brenner, Daoud Kuttab, news stories, and innumerable HP talkback posts have all been making the case that Barghouti is a moderate Palestinian leader who has been cruelly kept from making peace by evil Israel. The fact that Barghouti is serving a prison sentence for five counts of murder, most notably for masterminding the Sea Food Market attack in Tel Aviv, does not seem to diminish their determination to present him as a man of peace.

A new article posted yesterday, though, seems to indicate that Marwan is now out, and this fellow named Mustafa Barghouti is in. Unlike Marwan, Mustafa is not now nor has ever been a member of a Palestinian terrorist organization (as far as I know). Looking at Mustafa's Wikipedia page, the only view that he has that is particular problematic is an insistence on the refugees gaining their "rights." He is willing to make a compromise in that department, though. So he's looking like a good candidate.

That is, until I read the Christopher Lydon article above. He quotes Mustafa extensively, and some of what he says is quite interesting indeed. Click the link below and let's go through the article together.

My analysis of this will be bullet points, whatever isn't mentioned I don't have a comment about.
"There isn't any place in the world where apartheid is so systematic as it is today in Palestine... You are talking about a situation where we the Palestinians are prevented from using all our main roads because they are exclusive for Israelis and Israeli Army and Israeli settlers."
1. Ah-HA! No mention of "Jew-only roads" this time, I see? At least Barghouti is honest enough to admit that the roads are for the use of Israelis, and not simply Jews. I intend to use this quote against the HPers as often as I can.
2. Like many Palestinians and their advocates, Barghouti uses the loaded term "apartheid" without a proper understanding of what it is. In fact his second sentence contradicts his first. As we have explained before, Israelis and Palestinians are not racial groups. There is no apartheid in the West Bank, and Barghouti's own words just proved it.

"And to me, the fact that a woman cannot give birth in a dignified manner, and having to give birth in front of foreign soldiers out in the street, is equal to the utmost injustice."
This is pretty typical of Barghouti's essay, he complains about the indignities that Palestinans have to suffer while not even paying lip service to why Israel might do it to them. In this example, he can't be bothered to mention the use ambulances and pregnant women as bombers/bomb carriers by Palestinians terrorists. It is a very dishonest way of telling his story, but unfortunately it is quite common among even the most moderate Palestinian politicians.
"Tell me, where does that happen anywhere in the world?"
 You're kidding, right? He doesn't really think that the indignities that the Palestinians have to deal with is at all unique? Or that they are suffering worse than many people in Africa, Asia and indeed around the world? Talk about cognitive egocentrism!
"And this is happening by a country that is claiming that it is a democracy and that it is civilized. And by people that have had suffering in the past. I mean, that's what amazes me, you know. People who understand how terrible it is to be discriminated against..."
1. Another Palestinian supporter who apparently not only has a problem with what Israel does but what it is. Why else would he be hinting that it is undemocratic and uncivilized? No one is accusing America of these things because of it's conduct in Iraq. But more on that later.
2. Again, it never even crosses his mind that the Israelis are motivated by anything other than simple racism and prejudices. He never even thinks that the Israelis want to protect their people from murder at the hands of his fellow Palestinians. How can a man who supposedly is going to lead these two sides to peace be so fundamentally dishonest? Say what you will about Israel, but at least their politicians aren't afraid to criticize each other or the society in which they all live!
3. Another cheap shot at the Jews. Another not-so-subtle comparison between Israel and the Nazis. As if the Palestinians really are as innocent as the anti-Zionists believe them to be. I don't see Mustafa as that different from the other Palestinian leaders when he says these words.
"So we ask ourselves: how do we make the Israelis change their minds? How do we convince them to stop the oppressive system which is hurting our future and their future?"
Hey I know! Why don't you disarm yourselves and disband the terror groups so that Israel no longer needs that "oppressive system" to protect it's people from you? After all, the only reason why you are fighting in the first place is to "end the occupation," right?
"We have to make their system of occupation painful; and we have to make their system of occupation costly."
 Oh. I guess my idea was just too moderate for you. And by "too moderate" I mean it "involves the Palestinians giving something up." Not that this idea doesn't make sense, it was the plot behind this episode of Burn Notice that I saw. But Barghouti is repeating himself: In his mind, Israel is only there because they are mean and racist. The truth is that Israel is there because they don't trust the Palestinians not to turn on them and launch another terror campaign should they leave. And Israel has shown at this point that they are willing to pay any cost to protect their people.
And it's not like the "system of occupation" isn't already painful and costly. It's just that without a peace treaty Israel has no choice. Maybe this "man of peace" should negotiate and convince them to trust the Palestinian people? Or is that not considered an option to him?
"This can be done through only two ways: either you turn to violence, which I totally disagree with, I don't believe in and I think is counterproductive; or you turn to non-violence and mobilizing international pressures on Israel, as people did in the case of the apartheid system in South Africa."
1. The fact that he "totally disagrees" with using violence is a cold comfort at this point: He has expressed such intransigent and one-sided views that should he be elected peace will not be any closer.
2. Even though he is against violence, he still thinks like a general. If the enemy won't do what you want, bludgeon them until they surrender and you win! Just because Barghouti is advocating the use of international pressure and non-violence as weapons doesn't mean that his viewpoint are any less conducive to peace making. I have said it before, and I will say it again: Peace-making means compromise! That means making a deal, negotiating, finding a middle ground! Every Palestinian leader ever (as well as a few Israeli ones) have come into the situation with a viewpoint of, "Give me what I want or I'll make you." And Barghouti in this paragraph proves that he is no different. Compromising is not his strategy. Force is.
"We are not talking about boycotting Israel, or Israeli people. We are talking about boycotting occupation and about divestment from occupation and military industry that is exploiting people, that is destroying people's lives and that is consolidating an apartheid system."
1. What you're talking about is weakening Israel so that Palestinian terror groups can kill their people at will, should they choose to do so. Just because Barghouti personally "disagrees" with violence (by the way, that's probably the weakest word that exists to condemn something) means nothing if he doesn't provide any kind of guarantee that violence won't continue as soon as he succeeds in ending the occupation. Arafat was willing to be peaceful for a while too, until it stopped getting him what he wanted.
2. I'm also curious how exactly he proposes to boycott Israel's occupation without boycotting Israel or it's people. Unfortunately, he doesn't explain himself on this point.
"What we have so far is an Israeli government that is always in conflict with others. They seek conflict, in my opinion, and they use this conflict to justify oppression of Palestinians, and to justify a lack of solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."
 Sure. Okay. That must be why Israel has not fired the first shot since 1967, and has never initiated a war with a neighbor since the '50s. No, not even Lebanon. That must be why Israel signed peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt (as Barghouti himself admits later), as soon as those countries were willing to make peace with them. That be why they have made offers for a Palestinian state twice, while the Palestinians have never come up with an offer of their own. That must be why Israel allowed Arafat and the PLO back into the territories and withdrew from the territories during the Oslo Accords. That must be why Israel has often put their people at risk for the chance of making peace, even though the Palestinians have always burned them when they did. Because they "seek conflict." Dumbass.
"And they ask: in a globalized world when you have economic cooperation, why does Israel want us not to be a democracy? Why did they kill twice already our best experiences developing a democratic system [1976 and 2006]... You see, I see racism here. Why are Israelis entitled to democracy and Palestinians are not? The question is why are they afraid of us being a democracy? Because we will have a government that cannot be manipulated?"
This really isn't that complicated: When the Palestinians put groups in power that are committed to the destruction of Israel, Israel is going to try and stop them. It doesn't matter whether those groups are elected, seize power, or appear from another dimension, Israel is going to try and undermine them. In other words, it is not that Israel doesn't want the Palestinians to have a democracy, they just don't want the Palestinians to be lead by groups like Hamas and the PLO. Barghouti thinks it is racist that Israel wants to stop groups like Hamas over the will of the Palestinian people? Too bad. If he was in Israel's position, he would do the exact same thing and he knows it.

But again, this is the same thing he has always said: Israel doesn't do these things in self-defense, it does things because they hate him and his people. No other explanation is even considered. For a supposed man of peace, Barghouti is still holding onto that "I'm right, you're wrong" kind of mentality that has clung to this conflict for so long. Even if he were to take power among the Palestinians, I still wouldn't hold my breath for peace anytime soon.


  1. May I also point you to the following on Barghouti:

  2. This is the man the leftists at Tel Aviv University allowed to graduate with a Ph.D even as he led a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions around the world. Barghouti is many things but being a Palestinian moderate isn't one of them. There is no Arab alive who recognizes the Jews are human beings too who have equal rights. I have to see one who does have that understanding of the Israelis.

  3. Sharon was found responsible by an Israeli commission for the Sabra and Shatila massacres and then went on to be elected president. So I'm not sure murder convictions are that big of a career breaker.