“Resisting” Marwan Barghouti in Britain

It started last week when the New York Times, in its Sunday edition, ran an op-ed by Marwan Barghouti, a convicted Palestinian terrorist serving five life sentences plus 40 years in an Israeli prison.

The article identified Barghouti as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” The Israeli government and others protested to the Times that this description left out some vital information. The Times then added an “Editors’ Note” saying:

This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization.

But as many pointed out, the Times’s printing of the article remained problematic. Neither the Times nor other papers had, for instance, provided op-ed space to Terry Nichols, now serving a life term for having been Timothy McVeigh’s accomplice in the Oklahoma City bombing; or to Omar Abdel-Rahman (the Blind Sheikh), who before his death in February spent almost 24 years in U.S. prisons for planning the first World Trade Center bombing.

So far as I know, the practice in Western countries is that conviction on a mass-murder count removes you from the legitimate political discourse. The fact that the Times still has not acknowledged any wrongdoing in publishing Barghouti’s op-ed—apart from not fully identifying him—indicates either that it sees the murder of Israelis, and Israelis alone, as acceptable, or that it—slanderously—does not see Israel as having a bona fide judicial system.

Considering that Barghouti is an anti-Israeli terrorist, it comes as no surprise that his op-ed—which announced the launching of a hunger strike by a thousand Palestinian prisoners—does not paint Israel in a favorable light. It does, though, laud Barghouti himself as a freedom fighter—“here I still am, pursuing this struggle for freedom”—and constantly refers to “freedom” as the goal for which the Palestinians are striving.

In fact, the Second Intifada—the vicious terror assault (2000-2004) of which Barghouti was a major ringleader until his arrest in 2002—was launched in September 2000 two months after, at Camp David, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak had offered the Palestinians an independent state in almost all of the West Bank and Gaza.

In that case as in many others, the Palestinians could have had the “freedom” for which they purportedly long simply by saying yes. Instead the response to Barak’s offer by Barghouti’s boss, Yasser Arafat, by Barghouti himself, and by thousands of other Palestinians was a campaign of slaughter in Israeli buses, streets, and restaurants.

Meanwhile the Palestinian effort to glorify Barghouti continues. Having successfully made use of the compliant New York Times to present him as a freedom fighter and Israel as a dark and brutal colonizer, the struggle is also being waged in Britain.

But there, thanks to the efforts of the Israeli watchdog organization Palestinian Media Watch, it has so far met less success.

The Palestinian Authority’s embassy in Britain has been trying since last week to get a film screened about Barghouti’s life. The announcement for the film (reproduced here) says:

Marwan is 70min docudrama which depicts the life of Palestinian resistance fighter Marwan Barghouti…. The film shows the many faces of the Fateh representative from resistance fighter to advocate of the two-state solution and demonstrates how his personal story is symbolic of the Palestinian people’s fight for freedom and independence.

But while Marwan was supposed to be screened on Sunday at the Mayfair Hotel in London, PMW reports that, following its exposure of Barghouti’s identity as a terrorist, the hotel canceled the event.

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The showing was, however, moved to a second London hotel, the Copthorne Tara. But that showing, too, was canceled.

In that case, PMW’s legal director Maurice Hirsch sent a letter to the manager of the Copthorne Tara, a Mr. Braudi, that changed his mind about screening Marwan.

“Barghouti,” Hirsch pointed out,

is a terrorist convicted of the murder of five people, including four Israelis and a Greek priest.

Noting the planned screening, we would like to bring to your attention that paragraph 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006 prohibits “direct or indirect encouragement or other inducement…to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.” Subsection (3) of that paragraph includes glorification of acts of terrorism as incitement.

…Should the event take place as scheduled, it is our intention to submit a formal complaint to the Metropolitan Police against you as the Manager of the Hotel for being an accomplice to the offence….

Not surprisingly, Braudi decided not to host Marwan in his hotel. Whether it will yet be screened anywhere else in Britain remains to be seen.

So far, though, this episode indicates that, first, determined “resistance” to Palestinian glorification of terrorism can get results.

Second, while the New York Times may not have broken the law by running Barghouti’s op-ed, it clearly violated moral norms by doing so—and continues to do so by failing to apologize for providing an outlet to a terrorist.

And, third, with President Trump scheduled to meet with 82-year-old Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas on May 3 for the purported beginning of a peacemaking venture, it should be noted that, as the Times itself acknowledges, Barghouti “is the most popular choice to replace…Abbas”—with all that implies about the Palestinians’ ability to give up their war on Israel.

Reprinted with author’s permission from FrontPage Mag