According to the latest pictures I’ve seen of Marwan Barghouti, he can use a little dieting. He’s grown a bit heavier, with his sedentary lifestyle of late. Not like the early 2000s, when he was active and busy planning the murders of hundreds of Jews.
Of course cheating on his diet – a hunger strike – as he did earlier in the new century, is no way to take off the pounds.
That’s right, terrorist mastermind, mass murderer and part-time dieter Marwan Barghouti called for a Palestinian security prisoner hunger strike recently, the same Marwan who was caught in the past on video eating food while his comrades starved themselves to liberate Palestine.
As I wrote in in 2004, “while his fellow prisoners were refraining from food, Marwan Barghouti, the Tanzim terrorist leader, was caught on camera feeding his face. First he covered the door and window of his cell – so as not to be seen – then he washed his hands and pigged out.
According to Prison Services spokesman Ofer Lefler, Barghouti asked wardens for the food and ate without knowing that a camera was filming from a small hole in the wall. Israel wanted to catch him to show fasting prisoners how their leader was behaving, Lefler said. “I want to show the world and the Palestinians that we are dealing with terrorists,” Lefler continued. “Barghouti is sitting on a pot of meat and he sends his friends to die.”
Barghouti was a leader of the first intifada, and was arrested by Israel and deported to Jordan for seven years. He was allowed to return under the Oslo deal in 1994. Two years later, he was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Barghouti founded the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade terror group and was the leader of Fatah’s armed wing, the Tanzim, during the second intifada before being captured by Israeli forces in April 2002. He was tried in 2004 and acquitted of 21 counts of murder in 33 attacks for “lack of sufficient evidence.” But he was sentenced to five life sentences for five murders in three attacks, plus an additional 40 years imprisonment for attempted murder.
For years, assorted Israeli leftists like Gush Shalom, former MKs Yossi Beilin, Meir Sheetrit and even Shimon Peres, joined by some world leaders, have looked at Barghouti as a possible successor to Mahmoud Abbas, capable of delivering a peace agreement. Many of them tout him to be more moderate than Abbas.
He must be, given that last year, Belgian members of Parliament from across the political spectrum nominated Barghouti for the Nobel Peace Prize. He seems to be following in the footsteps of that other well-known peace monger, Yasser Arafat.
In addition to his former terrorist exploits, when Marwan Barghouti has made political statements, he’s said things such as, “After we attain a Palestinian state [in Judea and Samaria], there will be greater things for which to strive. … There is no room for more than one state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.”
More moderate than Abbas?
Peace-delusional Israelis and others only see Barghouti’s friendly side. But as a terrorist leader cum pop-star security prisoner, Barghouti is very popular on the Palestinian street. According to the last poll done by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, if the presidential elections were between Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, Barghouti would receive 57 percent and Haniyeh would receive only 39 percent of the vote. Evidently violence and murdering Jews sells in “Palestine.”
While behind bars, Barghouti was recently elected to the Fatah Executive Committee. It seems Palestinians love their leaders murderous, corrupt and duplicitous.
Israel recently moved Barghouti to solitary confinement. He might find it easier to eat there again, away from the eyes of the other prisoners.
Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst and consultant.