Barghouti's a political
prisoner. On May 20, 2004, he was wrongfully convicted of involvement
in three terrorist attacks killing five people. Acquitted on 33 other
charges, he received five consecutive life sentences plus 40 years.
A three-judge panel ruled that although he didn't fully control local
Brigade leaders and wasn't directly involved, he had "significant influence"
over their conduct.
In other words, no evidence existed. A legitimate court would have acquitted
him. Israel's military one judged him guilty by accusation. Due process
and judicial fairness were absent. Virtually all prosecuted Palestinians
face the same fate, including children.
Barghouti calls himself "a political leader," an elected PLC member.
Israel had no right to accuse, try, and judge him, he maintains. Doing
so violates international law. It affirms the right to resist lawless
occupations. Israel's is the longest in memory.
Avinoam Bar-Yosef is president of the Jewish People Policy Planning
Institute. Last November, his <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/09/opinion/release-marwan-barghouti.html>New
York Times op-ed headlined, "Release Marwan Barghouti," saying:
"The Israeli peace camp" wants him released. He's "regarded as the sole
Palestinian leader who enjoys the full trust of Fatah and the Palestinian
He "never denied the right of the Jewish people to a Jewish state."
He also "expressed contempt for Islamic fundamentalists." Above all,
he's uncorruptable, he added. Many Israelis support him for good reason.
He wants Palestinian sovereignty respected, as well as even-handed diplomatic
He's also a realist. He knows ending decades of Israeli repression requires
resistance. He urges Palestinians to persist nonviolently.
On April 20, <http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/week-s-end/grilling-of-top-palestinian-militant-exposes-arafat-s-link-to-terror-attacks-on-israelis-papers-show-1.425537>Haaretz
headlined "Grilling of top Palestinian militant exposes Arafat's link
to terror attacks on Israelis, papers show," saying:
So-called Barghouti interrogation records "published here for the first
time" allegedly link him to Intifada violence. They include Shin Bet
memoranda and detailed transcripts. They suggest Barghouti gave "partial
They "indicate that PA Chairman Arafat issued a general directive to
carry out terror attacks, but made sure not to get personally involved
in any way that might incriminate him."
Israeli authorities also claim they implicate Barghouti despite no evidence
produced at trial proving it.
At the time, the<http://www.ipu.org/hr-e/174/report.htm> Inter-Parliamentary
Union (IPU) international organization of parliaments and sovereign
states published a legal assessment of his proceedings based on case
notes, prosecutorial member and defense team interviews, as well as
others with international NGO trial observers.
IPU concluded that:
"From the beginning of the investigations until the final day of the
trial, the prosecution put almost as much effort into staging a media
event as it did into working on the legal aspects."
Theatrics and publicity substituted for judicial fairness. Barghouti
never had a chance. His legal rights were violated. Numerous international
laws were breached. The entire process was illegitimate. Guilty as charged
damned him to five consecutive life sentences plus 40 years.
Eight years later, he faces new charges after the fact. They're just
as spurious as what got him convicted. Putting him away for life isn't
enough. Beating up on him relentlessly continues.
Shin Bet claims Barghouti said achieving sovereign Palestine depends
on bloodshed. If anything close to that was said, it was that Israel
sheds Palestinian blood. In October, 2002, Barghouti indicted Israel
on <http://www.fromoccupiedpalestine.org/node/538>54 counts, including:
"specific acts of genocide, ethnic cleansing....uprooting Palestinians
by military attacks, arbitrary arrests and illegal imprisonment, administrative
detention, attacks on women, children and the elderly, systematic and
wanton destruction of property and homes, (and) systematic expropriation
He added "(v)iolence to life and person (including assassinations),
confiscation of lands and property, creation of separate reserves and
Bantustans, disruptive public life and terrorizing a whole population
(including collective punishment and reprisals), " and much more.
On September 29, 2000, Palestine's Second Intifada erupted. Ariel Sharon
provoked it. On September 28, accompanied by 1,000 Israeli troops and
police, he staged a provocative visit to Islam's third holiest site
- the Haram al-Sharif sacred shrine and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The following day, the Second Intifada began. Sharon got what he wanted,
a chance to reign terror on Palestinian civilians. Institutionalized
violence followed. Palestinians responded defensively. Israel calls
In April 2002, Jenin's refugee camp was attacked. It was isolated from
outside help. Hundreds of buildings were destroyed. Palestinians were
buried under rubble. Water and power were cut off. Food, medical aid,
and other essentials were kept out. Unknown numbers of civilian men,
women and children were slaughtered in cold blood.
IDF violence targeted other areas. Palestinians never had a chance.
When the five-year Intifada ended, 4,166 Palestinians died, including
886 children and 271 women. Thousands more were injured or disabled.
Hundreds of targeted assassinations occurred. Thousands were imprisoned,
including 288 children and 115 women.
In addition, another 2,329,659 dunums of Palestinian land were stolen,
thousands more razed, and over 1.3 million trees uprooted. Nearly 7,800
homes were demolished. Another 98,800 were damaged.
Israeli crimes were extreme. Palestinian victims were blamed. Justice
was denied. It always is. Israel calls self-defense terrorism. International
law legitimized it. >From its earliest times to now, self-defense
was widely recognized as inviolable. In 1965, the General Assembly affirmed
<blockquote>It recognized "the legitimacy of struggle by the people
under colonial rule to exercise their rights to self-determination and
independence." It also urged "all States to provide material and moral
assistance to the national liberation movements in colonial territories."
In 1977, Geneva's Protocol I (Act 1 C4) declared that armed struggle
may be used as a last resort to exercise the right of self-determination.
Doing so affirmed the Second Uprising's legitimacy. It also justified
those engaging in and supporting it, including Barghouti.
He's no terrorist. He's heroic. It's why he's Palestine's most respected
leader. It's also why Israel wrongfully put him away for life.
Now further accusations surface after the fact. Having him behind bars
isn't good enough. So-called Shin Bet transcripts can say anything.
Barghouti can't respond.
Haaretz played Israel's game. Publishing one side only compromises truth
and full disclosure. It also omitted explaining the right to resist,
legitimate self-defense, and Israel's illegal occupation.
With or without Barghouti, Palestine's liberating struggle continues.
Millions worldwide support it because it's the right thing to do.
It's true for all long-suffering people. They bear the burden to live
free. Support from others is vital, including for wrongfully imprisoned
figures like Barghouti. They deserve that much and more.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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