| FREE Marwan Barghouti: Palestine’s Mandela!

Where is Palestine’s Mandela? ~ Alan Hart, www.alanhart.net.

The answer to my headline question is that he, Marwan Barghouti, is in an Israeli jail where he has been since his arrest in Ramallah by an IDF unit in 2002, after which, in 2004, he was sentenced to five life terms in prison. Some months before his arrest one of Israel’s security agencies tried and failed to assassinate him. A missile was fired at his bodyguard’s car and killed the bodyguard. (If the attempt on Barghouti’s life had succeeded, his killers would not have been brought to justice because as well as bulldozing Palestinian homes and stealing Palestinian land and water, Israel kills, murders, with impunity).

 

Regular readers of my occasional thoughts and analysis will know that I am in favour of the dissolution of the impotent, corrupt and discredited Palestine National Authority (PNA) and handing back to Israel complete and full responsibility for the occupation. As I have previously said, this could make calling and holding the Zionist monster to account for its crimes something less than a mission impossible. But…

If putting the PNA out of its misery is not an option, what the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip need, urgently, are elections to give them the opportunity to bring on a new and credible leadership. If there were elections, and if Barghouti was pardoned, released and allowed to run for the office of “President of Palestine”, he would almost certainly win.

I’m also happy to speculate that in office he would do what collaborator Abbas, more or less under orders from the U.S., has failed to do – unite Fatah and Hamasto enable the occupied and oppressed Palestinians to speak with one voice.

As I have written and said in the past, it bears repeating, there is no secret about Hamas’s real position. While it is not prepared to recognise Israel’s “right” to exist, nor should it do so, it isprepared, with Arafat-like pragmatism, to recognise and live with the actual existence of an Israel inside the pre-1967 war borders with, probably, mutually agreed minor border changes, and Jerusalem an open, undivided city and the capital of two states. Assertions about Hamas’s real position to the contrary by Greater Israel’s hardliners and the neo-fascists to the extreme right of them are Zionist propaganda “bs” (President Carters code for bullshit), out of the same stable as Netanyahu’s nonsense about Iran representing a threat to Israel’s existence.

Now 54, and fully fluent in Hebrew, Barghouti joined Fatah at the age of 15. He co-founded the Fatah Youth Movement on the West Bank and became Secretary General of Fatah in that territory. He is widely believed to have been the leader on the ground of the first and second intifadas. (Once it was underway the oversight director of the first intifada was actually Arafat’s number two, Abu Jihad, from the bedroom of his home in Tunis; and that’s why Israel assassinated him, in his bedroom, on 16 April 1988. If he had not been assassinated, Abu Jihad would have succeeded Arafat and the Palestinian cause would have been in the best possible hands at leadership level).

At about the time of his arrest Barghouti’s position on ending the conflict was in this statement:

I, and the Fatah movement to which I belong, strongly oppose attacks and the targeting of civilians inside Israel, our future neighbour. I reserve the right to protect myself, to resist the Israeli occupation of my country and to fight for my freedom. I still seek peaceful coexistence between the equal and independent countries of Israel and Palestine based on full withdrawal from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.

In jail Barghouti has continued to condemn attacks on civilians in Israel but also stressed that he supported armed resistance to Israeli occupation. (In international law all occupied peoples have the right to resist occupation by all means including armed struggle).

Even in Israeli political and media circles there has been some debate about pardoning and releasing Barghouti. Following his January 2006 re-election to the Palestinian Legislative Council (he was first elected to it in 1996), Yossi Beilin, a foreign policy specialist and former Israeli government minister, and a voice of some sanity, called for Barghouti to be pardoned. And it was probably on advice from Beilin that in January 2007 Shimon Peres, then deputy prime minister, declared that if elected to the presidency he would sign a pardon for Barghouti. He has not yet done so and I think it’s reasonable to assume that Netanyahu said to him something like, “Don’t even think about it!”

The last thing Netanyahu wants is a Palestinian leader who commands the respect of his people and will not accept crumbs from Zionism’s table.

In his tribute to Nelson Mandela at the memorial service in Soweto’s FNB stadium, President Obama said that he, Mandela, “understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet.” Barghouti understands that, too.

What a real peace process needs is an Israeli leader who understands that an acceptable amount of justice for the Palestinians is an idea that can’t be destroyed by military might and oppression of all kinds. Such a leader would pardon and free Marwan Barghouti.

To the Zionist argument that he can’t be freed because he is a terrorist, there can be only one response.

Whether Barghouti was or was not a terrorist is an irrelevance. Mandela was described as a “terrorist”, and so were many of those who became prime ministers and presidents of Britain’s former colonies when they gained their independence. And what about Zionism’s own, Menachem Begin for example, arguably the most successful terrorist of modern times if not all of human history? (Begin had a leading role in driving out of Palestine by terrorism first the occupying British and then three-quarters of its indigenous Arab inhabitants).

To that response could be added the fact that Israel sometimes resorts to state terrorism.

There is good reason to believe that if Barghouti was pardoned and freed and became the president of Palestine, he would pursue a Mandela-like path of reconciliation to the extent that he would be committed to the wellbeing and security of Jews in a state of Israel inside more or less its borders as they were on the eve of the 1967 war. So there is a case for saying that Israel needs Barghouti as much as the Palestinians do.

There is now one thing (apart from Netanyahu!) that neither Israel nor the occupied and oppressed Palestinians need. It was drawn to my attention in an article by Abdel Bari Atwan, the former editor-in-chief of Al Quds, the only Arab newspaper while Abdel Bari was in charge of it that was required reading in the foreign offices of the Western world. Abdel Bari is no longer with the paper because its principal Gulf Arab funders were not prepared to tolerate his truth-telling any longer and demanded his departure. That didn’t come as a surprise to me because when three years ago I interviewed him for my Heart of the Matter series for Press TV (which can be found on my web site www.alanhart.net), he told me that the chair in which I was sitting opposite him at his desk had been occupied some weeks previously by a Saudi royal who offered him a vast amount of money to take his leave of the paper.

Abdel Bari’s article which commanded my full attention was headlined Al-Qaeda Arrives In The West Bank. It included this:

When I met Sheikh Osama bin-Laden in Tora Bora caves in the 1996, I conveyed to him people’s criticism that the organization focuses on fighting in Afghanistan, Southeast Asia (Thailand and southern Philippines), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, Daghistan, and elsewhere and that it did not carry out any operations against Israeli targets in and outside Palestinian territories. He told me the reason was the difficulty in crossing the border and the vicious security measures that the Arab security agencies adopted against his organization… It appears (mainly because of the mayhem in Iraq and Syria) things have now changed, at least partially.

About how things are changing Abdel Bari wrote this:

The Mujahedeen Shura Council, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, yesterday announced in a statement that the three young men killed by the Israeli army in Hebron on Tuesday were members of one of its cells. The statement, posted on the internet, said: “As we announce the martyrdom of this group, we bring to the Muslim nation the glad tidings that, praise be to God, global jihad now has a foothold in the proud West Bank after everyone tried to foil every seed planted there.”Shin Bet (Israeli internal security) officials said the extremist network had established a safe haven in the West Bank, stored weapons, and planned attacks against Israeli targets and against the PNA.

If this information is true – and it appears to be true – it will shock both the PNA and Israel because al-Qaeda’s arrival in the occupied West Bank is a very serious security breach that will have repercussions because, judging from al-Qaeda’s activities in other regions, it means martyrdom-seeking operations and booby-trapped cars.

 

I personally do not rule out such a breach. Hamas has not carried out any military attacks against Israeli targets and settlements in the West Bank because it has a sort of “truce” with both the Israelis and the PNA in the West Bank and Gaza, and with it refraining from launching any systematic operations in order to evade an Israeli incursion into Gaza, which it rules, I believe it is inevitable that al-Qaeda and its supporters will try to find a foothold; and that they will likely succeed in recruiting enthusiastic young men dismayed at the state of deadlock and influenced by the Arab revolutions.

 

If al-Qaeda (and/or affiliates) did succeed in establishing enough of a foothold on the occupied West Bank from which to launch attacks to kill Israeli Jews, that could trigger a final Zionist ethnic cleansing.

It also could be that a credible Palestinian leadership headed by Marwan Barghouti after elections would represent the very last chance for stopping the countdown to catastrophe for all.

My plea to all who campaign for justice for the Palestinians is – give a priority to calling and lobbying for the release of Marwan Barghouti, the man who could become the Palestinian Mandela in terms of the reconciliation needed if the two-state solution is to be resurrected from its grave.

If it was, my guess is that that Barghouti would entertain the same hope as Arafat – that one or two generations of a two-state peace would lead by mutual consent to a one state with equal rights for all.

Footnote

James Robbins, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, made what I thought was a most perceptive comment a few days ago. He said words to the effect that maybe it was not Mandela who had been in jail for 27 years but most of South Africa’s whites – in the jail of apartheid ideology. In the case of Marwan Barghouti, maybe it’s not him who is in jail but most Israeli Jews – in the jail of Zionism’s ideology.

 

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| Yes… Arafat was poisoned and Israel killed him, but what can we do?

Yes… Arafat was poisoned and Israel killed him, but what can we do? ~ Abdel Bari Atwan, MEMO.

There are three countries in the world that possess the radioactive polonium used to assassinate the Palestinian president Yasser Arafat; the United States, Russia and Israel. The two superpowers had no direct benefit from committing this war crime. So, fingers are now pointed at Israel, the country that has specialised in carrying out assassination operations against Arabs, Palestinians and international envoys over the past 60 years, since the beginning of the occupation of Palestine.

Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli Prime Minister who is lying comatose in hospital, had made several open threats to assassinate the Palestinian president. He had refused to surrender at the Camp David retreat in 2000 and abandon occupied Jerusalem and full sovereignty over it, as well as sparking the armed Intifada against the occupation, anticipating and waiting for his martyrdom.

President Arafat took all the necessary measures, within the limits of his basic capabilities, to thwart the attempts on his life while confined in his compound. He had no water, electricity, or official Arab visitors other than those who were mediating for him to go into exile (including Omar Suleiman), in addition to Arab and foreign solidarity delegations.

Arafat put up iron bars on the roof of his compound to prevent helicopters from landing and capturing him and locked his refrigerator that operated on a small electric current generated by a small motor; he was the only one with the keys. This refrigerator contained canned food, which was the only thing he ate out of fear of being poisoned. He also kept a gas mask and his small automatic gun near his bed in case gas bombs were thrown to kill him and in order to defend himself until he was martyred.

The only thing he had not taken into account was being poisoned by radioactive polonium and its lethal radiation. This type of poison was not discovered until November 2006 when it was used to kill Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in a London hotel. It is hard to detect and it kills the victim a few days after being poisoned, leaving no trace.

We did not need a Swiss lab to confirm that President Arafat was poisoned. The report by Percy Military Hospital near Paris, his final stop, confirmed that he had been poisoned but the type of poison was unknown.

President Arafat himself realised during his final days in Ramallah that the Israelis had been able to poison him, and his farewell to his supporters, after arriving at Amman International Airport in a helicopter, where, he was not greeted by any senior Jordanian officials, was a farewell of a man who knew very well that he would not be back alive.

The last time I contacted him by telephone, just a few weeks before his death, he was the model of steadfastness, unafraid of death and reiterating his pride to belong to a powerful people. We all lent on him, even while he was confined by the Arabs and Israelis, to draw energy, strength and a boost in morale. He told me that in distress he had called the Arab leaders, but none of them had bothered to take his call.

Now the question is, what role the Palestinian Authority will play, what will their next move be and why have they remained silent all these years and not even tried to investigate his assassination?

They say that this authority, which is led by Arafat’s comrade in arms, does not have the money to finance criminal and laboratory investigations. This cannot be true because the examinations conducted by the Swiss Institute did not cost more than a million dollars. Can it be true instead that this authority, which has piled on a debt of over $4 billion on the Palestinian people, is unable to spare another million to reveal how the historic leader of the Palestinian jihad was martyred!

We are surprised by the silence of the PA and their continuation with the negotiations, not only after discovering this crime and Israel’s role in it. Especially as settlement activity continues at an unprecedented rate and Netanyahu insists on keeping the Jordan Valley, abolishing the right of return and recognising Israel as a Jewish state.

Calling for an international investigation should not be enough for the PA, it’s nothing but a speck in the corner of their eye. In fact, the PA needs to withdraw from negotiations, join the International War Crimes Tribunal and prosecute the Israelis. They need to maintain the late president’s legacy of resisting the occupation.

The most important investigation will be the internal investigation to expose the ‘political’ tools used by Israel to facilitate the assassination and the criminals who executed the crime.

Will the PA and its leader take these two investigations seriously and follow them through until the end without worrying about the negotiations or anything else? Despite our doubts, we hope so.

This is a translation of the Arabic text published by Raialyoum, 8 November, 2013

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Zio Mafia

| Coup unravels: Rousing video of President Morsi in detention!

Leaked video captures Morsi in detention ~ MEMO, courtesy Al Watan.

Published by pro-coup Al Watan newspaper, 3 November 2013. Below is the transcript of the video.

Screenshot of Al-Watan's video of imprisoned President Morsi

‘For Egypt to become stable, remain strong, and its children possess their will, just as I used to say we want to produce our food, our medicine and our weapons and therefore possess our will. Israel would be of no value whatsoever should Egypt become like that’


(The coup) is legally a full-fledged crime. Hence, I am the president of the republic according to the existing constitution in the country (words missing), a blow to the institution. It turns upside down all institutional standards and the concept of institutionalism in legislation as well as in formation. We are in a state of a coup. I am a small price for something like this.

God, the Almighty, knows that I’m telling the truth in what I’m saying. What is happening is causing suffering for the country, for the whole of Egypt. (Omitted words.) This is not the time for talking about this matter. It will be when the right time comes. (Words omitted)

In the conflict between us and Israel what is going on is a fiasco. When will Egypt once again return to the situation where there is a separation of powers and where there will be freedom and genuine democracy? What is published in the newspaper is that some of the Arabs living in Jerusalem asked the Israeli authorities to name a street after Rabia, and that the Israeli authorities have fulfilled their demand; that which I have read in the news (then his words are omitted).

Does that mean that Israel is pleased with Rabia or displeased with Rabia (words are omitted). He would always search for a disaster, (incomprehensible words.) Perhaps time will prove that they stand behind this calamity in which we happen to be. I say perhaps, because I’m not absolutely sure, I don’t want to accuse anyone. Yet, what we are going through does of course serve Israel. (It would not please Israel)

For Egypt to become stable, remain strong, and its children possess their will, just as I used to say we want to produce our food, our medicine and our weapons and therefore possess our will. Israel would be of no value whatsoever should Egypt become like that. This Israel has no value whatsoever. Yet, so long as Egypt suffers from anxiety the enemy will benefit. That’s because we are weakening ourselves from within. We move forward a little then backward again. We walk forward a little then retreat. This will (eventually) move on.

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Egypt’s generals ask for amnesty from Morsi ~ MEMO.Egyptian soldiers keeping eye on the streetsThe general said that this visit was part of an initiative which involves the military institution officially apologising to the president for all the offensive actions carried out by some of its 222 leaders.A group of generals in the Egyptian army, along with the leadership of a military services branch, have met with ousted President Mohamed Morsi to launch a campaign called the “Initiative of Repentance,” a senior source in the army said.Speaking to the Egyptian social news website Rassd, the source said that the initiative involves the military institution officially apologising to the president for all the offensive actions carried out by some of its 222 leaders.

The source was among the generals who secretly met with Morsi in his prison last week and preferred to remain anonymous. He reiterated that the offensive actions do not reflect the position of the overwhelming majority of the military institution’s leadership.

He said that some of the leaders were exploiting their political positions to maintain sovereignty over the military. These coup leaders, according to the source, reflected a “tainted mental image” about the army.

The initiative, according to the source, is aimed at regaining a “positive mental image” of the military institution by returning it back to carrying out its basic duties, namely securing Egypt and protecting its borders.

Rassd reported the source saying that Morsi welcome the initiative, but insisted that amnesty be given only to those leaders whose “hands were not tainted with the blood of Egyptians and those who did not incite violence.”

Morsi also demanded that the leaders who were involved in the coup on 3 July be prosecuted before military courts.

The source added that Morsi asked the delegation to prepare a vision for the military institution should the army return back to the military bases. The vision, Morsi said, should include details about promoting the army’s combative abilities.

Morsi’s advice was appreciated and the delegation promised to prepare this vision as soon as possible.

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Morsi is the strongest, most legitimate person in this farcical trial ~

Abdel Bari Atwan, MEMO.

Abdel Bari AtwanPresident Mohamed Morsi proved in the dock, that he was at least morally stronger than his jailer, Colonel Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Perhaps the military rulers will realise, in the coming days that the presence of the elected president Mohamed Morsi, in the presidency cage would be much more merciful and less costly to them than his presence behind bars or standing in front of the comical courts’ judges. What happened yesterday morning during the short, private opening session is an indicator of this.

The military rulers, along with the Egyptian judicial system, should be the ones actually standing in the defendants’ dock, as well as the official and private media outlets. This regime, an extension of Mubarak’s regime, believed that overthrowing the elected president and putting him, along with most high and low ranking Muslim Brotherhood leaders, behind bars would end the Egyptian crises and restore security, stability and prosperity to the country. What is actually happening is quite the opposite, despite the attempts to cover up and de-fraud at every level.

President Mohamed Morsi proved in the dock, that he was at least morally stronger than his jailer, Colonel Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the head of the country and the leader of the Egyptian army. The ruling Egyptian regime seemed to be uncomfortable dealing with the trial and this situation; not only did they change the venue the day before, but seemed afraid to broadcast the trial live as Hosni Mubarak’s trial by Field Marshal Tantawi had been. They deployed 20,000 soldiers and 1,500 tanks to guard the building, as if they were going to war.

President Morsi has the right to declare, as he did during the first session in court, that he is “the President of the republic” and that those who should be tried were those who overthrew legitimacy, disrupted the people’s will and the rule of the ballot box in the first free presidential elections in Egypt’s history.

He also has the right to question a judiciary that has tried an elected president ousted by a military coup for fabricated crimes. A fair and independent judiciary should refuse to give up its neutrality and independence and oppose its politicisation.

President Morsi did not commit any criminal offenses punishable by law and if a crime was actually committed, the crime was against him and his colleagues because they wouldn’t “kill a fly”. It was their supporters who were killed, tortured and politically arrested, including those who were killed in cold blood in front of the Republican Guard’s headquarters, in Rabaa al-Adawiyya and al-Nahda squares. They were shot by security forces and the army, or crushed to death by tanks and bulldozers.

The charges against President Morsi are fabricated and the trial is purely political. To say that he incited murder is both distasteful and unconvincing. How could he have ordered the killing of demonstrators and protesters in front of his palace when his opponents were on the verge of breaking into the palace to kill him, forcing him to escape from a back door and 8 of the 10 victims were his supporters? How can he stand in the defendants’ dock on charges of incitement to murder, while those who actually murdered i.e. the Minister of Interior, have not been charged with anything, such as Habib el-Adli and his aides? What’s more is that they were the ones who committed massacres in the squares when they forcefully dispersed the protests with live ammunition.

Perhaps the most comical charge President Morsi faces is his conspiring with the Islamic resistance movement, Hamas. Since when has communicating with our resisting brothers become a crime worthy of condemnation and imprisonment? Didn’t President Mubarak’s regime and its figures communicate with Hamas and host its leaders in the most luxurious hotels in Egypt, rolling out the red carpet for them every time they landed at one of Egypt’s airports or crossings? Those of us who followed their trials did not hear of any of them being charged with conspiring with the movement, nor have we heard this mentioned in any of the Palestinian movement’s trials. If collaborating with Hamas is a crime, we must re-try Mubarak, the Arab League, and the old and new leaders of the Egyptian intelligence.

President Morsi is still the legitimate president of Egypt, whether or not we agree with him. If he made mistakes during his term or failed to save the country from crises, then he should be politically tried in the parliamentary and presidential elections, by the people, through the ballot box. His reign only lasted 12 months before the demonstrations, protests, sit-ins and the bullying by his opponents, the supporters of the former regime, who were determined to overthrow his rule and did not give him the opportunity to fix his mistakes or even catch his breath.

Those who deserve to be tried are the individuals who ousted the elected president, sent tanks and bulldozers to crush the peaceful protestors in the Rabaa al-Adawiyya and in front of the Republican Guard headquarters and turned Egypt into a military dictatorship. They took hold of the other’s opinions, silenced the media, and aborted freedom of expression, the most significant achievement of the great Egyptian revolution.

Egypt needs an extremely strong man, embodying a third option, to put an end to this absurdity and restore the country’s prestige and respect for legitimacy. He needs to lay the foundation for a true democracy based on national reconciliation and committed to coexistence and ending segregation. Without this, and in light of the vengeful conflicts we are currently witnessing, we do not think the country will experience stability any time soon.

This is a translation of the Arabic text published in El Shaab Newspaper on 4 October, 2013

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