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Barghouti and the Times


A few weeks back, as I was reading an op-ed in the New York Times, my temperature began to rise. Here is the opening sentence:

“Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim to Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike.”

Who is this civil disobedient excoriating Israel with false information? When my eyes rested on the name of the author — Marwan Barghouti — I blinked.

Marwan Barghouti? The mass killer convicted on five counts of cold-blooded murder? Now he’s a legitimate voice and point of view on the op-ed pages of the New York Times!

What has this world come to … again. Another terrorist, a convicted murderer, voicing his view — met with no moral outcry whatsoever.

Well, there was outcry, but it came from the pro-Israel camp. Forget about Israel and morals, this needed to be called out for sloppy journalism — presenting a mass murderer as a civil disobedient with a calling, with no context provided.

The next day, the following editor’s note appeared as an addendum to the author’s name: “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. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.”

The Times’ failure to disclose this originally was egregious (instead, the Times dignified him as a “parliamentarian”). Barghouti’s crimes were not just a tidbit — he is a convicted murderer! By the time of the newspaper’s mea culpa a day after the column was published, the damage had been already been done. Too little too late.

But the question remains. How could such a flagrant error slip by an editor’s desk? This is not a matter of dotting i’s and crossing t’s. It’s murder, cold-blooded murder.

Has moral equivalency crossed the Rubicon, with the shedding of blood now disguised in self-righteous hunger strikes, with the stamp of approval of the New York Times?

This week, “selfless and devoted” Bargouhti was caught on camera sneaking cookies in his bathroom cell. The man is a wanton murderer, so no additional evidence is needed to crush his humanity or character, but it seems that being a phony is another feature of his personality. I love my cookies as much as the next person, but I think Barghouti may have just stolen Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster’s namesake.

Jokes about his hypocrisy are flying. “They should name those biscuits Bar-Goodies.” Or, “I guess those Israeli biscuits were BDS approved.” Etc.

Let’s put all kidding aside, though, because this is no laughing matter, and keep a few simple facts in mind:

We are talking about Palestinian prisoners convicted of murder.

Terrorists, some of whom practically wiped out entire families.

They are treated within the strictures of international law. This means that in Israeli prisons they receive health benefits, legal counsel, humane treatment, visits from their families, the freedom to practice their religion, and education (Barghouti received his PhD while in Israeli prison).

The additional privileges these convicted murderers now want include more TV time, privacy when making phone calls, longer visits with family, and more academic opportunities.

Personally, I don’t believe in rewarding murderers. Do you?

So spare me the New York Times’ apologia for hunger strikes.

The newspaper is not the culprit, but the messenger. But maybe messengers who reward murder deserve readers who would go on strike against it.

Copyright Intermountain Jewish News