When the President (of Palestine) is a mass murderer
[Marwan] Barghouti, who is likely to become the next Palestinian President, was convicted by the Israeli justice system of five counts of murder – four Israelis and a Greek monk – during the second intifada. There is no question he supported and encouraged violence.
Actually, as the head of the Fatah Tanzim during the second intifada, he was almost certainly responsible for many other murders. But the prosecution was unable to provide sufficient evidence to convict him of more than five, for which he received five life sentences.
In a normal world it would be impossible to imagine that one country would release a convicted mass murderer so that he could become the president of a state to be established next door. In Russia (or Texas) he would be executed. Here in California, he might be sentenced to death but then remain in prison for life (while running up astronomical legal costs). But he would not be released to become, for example, Governor of Nevada.
The Ha’aretz story continues,
Barghouti’s involvement in past terror attacks does not change the fact that in light of the political developments on the Palestinian side – the possible reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah and especially the lack of contenders against President Mahmoud Abbas – Barghouti remains the only Fatah member who could inherit Abbas’ place when the time comes.
In other words, since he is the one murderer that two murderous terrorist organizations find acceptable, then by all means Israel should facilitate unifying them by letting him go free. Incredible logic!
Barghouti appeared at a court hearing concerning a lawsuit filed by the family of Esther Kleiman, who was shot to death in 2002:
March 24, 2002 – Esther Kleiman, 23, of Neve Tzuf, was killed in a shooting attack northwest of Ramallah, while traveling to work in a reinforced Egged bus.
Esther was on the bus on her way to the Samaria community of Ofra where she worked as a special education kindergarten teacher for Downs Syndrome children. At least one terrorist on a ridge overlooking the Abud bypass road fired at the bus as it passed the village of Umm Safah, near Ateret. A bullet apparently penetrated an unprotected part of the bus above the bullet-proof windows, hitting her in the head…
Esther completed high school at Ulpanat Zvia and then volunteered for National Service for two years in the Neveh Sha’anan School for disturbed children in Jaffa, where she worked with both Arab and Jewish children. After completing her service, she studied special education at the Talpiot teacher’s college in Jaffa. Esther was quiet and shy, but she loved working with children, her father said, and preferred relating to the youngsters on a one-to-one basis, rather than in a classroom.
Neve Tzuf residents described Esther as a very kind and pleasant person who always had a smile on her face. She worked as a volunteer with disabled and disadvantaged children in addition to her regular job.
Kleiman’s family is suing the Palestinian Authority for several million dollars, because the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades killed her. Barghouti is supposed to testify on the connection between Fatah, the PA, and the al-Aqsa Brigades. Of course he refused to testify on the grounds that he does not recognize the authority of the court (to be precise, he does not recognize the Jewish state).
One wonders why he was brought to the courtroom in the first place, since he refused to speak at his own murder trial for the same reason. He was, however, given a platform to speak on an unrelated question:
The court hearing provided Bargouti with a rare opportunity to communicate with the Palestinian – and the Israeli public. One of the most important messages he conveyed to the many journalists surrounding him was that an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines and the establishment of a Palestinian state will bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
An ‘important message’ indeed! As one popular pro-Israel blogger would write, “what could go wrong?”
You might be forgiven for wondering if it would be a good idea to take the word of a mass murderer who in effect promises that if you give him half of what you possess, then he won’t try to take the rest. But the Ha’aretz reporter assures us that Barghouti has repented from his evil ways:
In the past, Barghouti spearheaded the Fatah faction that called for terrorist attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank, and from January 2002 he even supported attacks within the Green Line. Like many Palestinians, Barghouti drew inspiration from Hezbollah, which forced Israel to retreat from southern Lebanon in May 2000, and thought that adopting the Shiite group’s tactics will cause Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories.
However, in recent years Barghouti admitted that the Palestinians made a grave mistake by turning to terrorism. In countless interviews he said he supports “popular resistance” – that is, unarmed resistance.
I don’t know about that last argument. For example,
The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) (Arabic: لجان المقاومة الشعبية, Lijān al-Muqāwama al-Shaʿbiyya) are a coalition of various armed Palestinian factions that oppose the conciliatory approach adopted by the Palestinian Authority and Fatah towards Israel…
Set up in late 2000 by former Fatah and Tanzim member Jamal Abu Samhadana, the PRC are composed primarily of ex-Fatah fighters and al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades members and are alleged by Israel to be inspired and financed by Hezbollah. The PRC specializes in planting roadside bombs and vehicle explosive charges – directed against military and civilian convoys in the Gaza Strip. The PRC is described as a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States. — Wikipedia
Is that the way ‘popular’ means ‘nonviolent’?
According to the reporter, Israel will have no choice if he is elected ‘President of Palestine’:
…some of the people close to Barghouti have no doubt he intends to run for president, even if it means being elected while still behind bars. He also understands that after the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap – in which he was not included – his only chance of being released is to be elected president. Israel will have a hard time dealing with the international pressure to release an imprisoned president.
It’s hard to think of an analogy. Could California mass murderer Charles Manson be elected Governor of Nevada? Of course not. But then, Nevada is not an artificial entity created simply to oppose and destroy California.
Israel is still a sovereign state, which can keep its convicted murderers in prison despite the pretensions of its enemies. Releasing Barghouti because he may become ‘President of Palestine’, or even if he is elected, would be a surrender of sovereignty, and cannot be permitted.
The best solution, going forward, will be the establishment of a death penalty for terrorist murderers like Barghouti.