Thursday, June 09, 2016

09-Jun-16: The convicted killer, the churchman, the prize

Convicted murderer Barghouti: Man of peace? [Image Source]
Twelve years ago, the career of an ambitious Palestinian Arab gang leader, a member of Arafat's inner circle, ended when he was convicted in Tel Aviv District Court in relation to the deaths of five innocent people.

There were other charges as well: attempted murder, membership of a terror organization and conspiracy to commit a crime; he was convicted of those as well. He was acquitted on technical grounds in relation to 33 additional counts of murder. Our impression (we were present in the court room for part of the trial ) was that the prosecution could have pressed those extra charges. Evidently a decision was taken that the accused would be imprisoned for a long-enough term if convicted on those charges where technical factors did not play a role. And indeed, that's what happened.

At the conclusion of Marwan Barghouti's trial in May 2004, the prosecution sought a sentence of one life term for each murdered victim and he was sentenced to - and is currently serving - five life terms behind bars:
Murdered on Marwan Barghouti's 
orders in 2001: Father 
George Tsibouktsakis
The court said in its verdict that "the defendant most of the time did not have direct contact with the field operatives who carried out the attacks. That connection was maintained through associates close to the defendant. Barghouti was responsible for providing the field units with money and arms via these associates..." The judges said Barghouti's orders for terror attacks were sometimes "based on instructions" from Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. "Arafat would never give explicit instructions for attacks but he let it be known when the timing was right," the judges said. "He made sure his subordinates understood very well when he was interested in a cease-fire and when he was interested in terror attacks against Israel," the verdict said.
["Barghouti Convicted in Deaths of Five People", Haaretz, May 20, 2004
Barghouti was one of those Arafat subordinates. And when we wrote above that his career ended, we were engaging in what seems more and more to be wishful thinking. We'll get to that in a moment.

A few brief words about his victims, none of whom has been honored with even a tiny fraction of the often-fawning media coverage of their convicted killer:
Murdered on Marwan Barghouti's orders 
in 2002: Yoela Chen, mother of 2, 
shot dead at a gas station 
on her way to a Jerusalem 
family celebration
  • The court ruled that Barghouti was directly responsible for a January 2002 terror attack on a gas station in Givat Zeev in which an Israeli woman, Yoela Chen, 45 and a mother of two, was murdered. The attack, the judges said, was carried out at his direct order in revenge for the assassination of another Palestinian Arab terrorist called Carmi who had been responsible for a long list of murderous attacks on Israeli civilians. Barghouti admitted his responsibility for Yoela Cohen's killing.
  • The killing of a Jewish-looking, traditionally bearded man, driving his car in the early summer of 2001 along one of Judea's intercity desert roads was carried out on Barghouti's orders, the judges said. That man was in reality not Jewish. Shot dead from a distance by Barghouti's sharp-shooters and a volley of 13 bullets, he was in fact a young, bearded Greek Orthodox monk, George Tsibouktsakis, also known as Father Herman, a religious devotee, one of two monks who lived in, and maintained, the ancient St. George Monastery perched on the edge of Wadi Kelt. Tragically, shot dead while looking Jewish.
  • The court found that Barghouti explicitly approved the murderous March 2002 shooting and hand-grenade terror attack at Tel Aviv's Seafood Market restaurant where three people were murdered in a frenzied assault just after 2 in the morning. The victims were Police Sergeant-Major Salim Barakat, 33, from the Israeli-Druze community of Yarka - killed by one of the attackers who fled the restaurant; and Yosef Haybi, 52, of Herzliya and Eliyahu Dahan, 53, of Lod - both of them killed inside the restaurant.
  • He was convicted as well for masterminding a car bomb attack in Jerusalem.
The 2004 Barghouti trial in Tel Aviv District Court was public,
transparent, and definitive: the accused was convicted on multiple
charges of murder and sentenced to five terms of life
imprisonment [Image Source]
None of these convictions in a non-military court and in front of an overflowing and often unruly crowd of witnesses, many of them Arabs, and overseas observers who flew in especially for the trial, prevented tendentious media coverage before, during and after Barghouti's conviction. Much of it is just as tendentious today.

Of all the many distortions, inaccuracies and open lies connected with that coverage, none is as galling as the way this vicious, violent man is routinely - and dishonestly - called a "political prisoner", and sometimes a "detainee". He has never been either. As a matter of objective reality, he ought to be called convicted murderer. And taking into account his undisputed role as head of the Tanzim shooting-and-bombing division of Fatah, he fully qualifies to be termed a terrorist.

Associated Press, as we wrote in an earlier blog post ["21-Mar-14: Allegedly objective journalism"] produced one of these distorted, politically-spun articles two years ago. That AP piece, entitled "Jailed militant key to Mideast talk" (March 19, 2014), sought to depict Marwan Barghouti as a Mandela-like man of peace who, if only he were sprung from jail, would take his natural place in the pantheon of Palestinian Arab statespersons and blaze a path to whatever peaceful destination they believe the Palestinian Arabs are heading. (UKMediawatch documented similar news-media efforts in an excellent analysis in 2013.) 

Murdered on Marwan Barghouti's
orders in March 2002: Yosef Haybi
Here's some of what we wrote two years ago:
We personally sat through the [2004] murder trial of Marwan Barghouti... The hearing was in Tel Aviv, in the Magistrates Court complex that rarely gets the kind of lavish media attention in evidence that week. Aljazeera's TV crew were there along with reporters from all over. A motley assemblage of lawyers from Israel, the PA and overseas were too, intent on defending the 'great' man from the lowly offenses of which he was charged. Some of the most entertaining moments on the trial's first day involved one of those would-be advocates, an unusually boorish individual intent on making a splash, being physically picked up by the security people and thrown out the door of the court room and onto the floor of the adjacent lobby. (You dream of moments like that.) 
Two main factors (among many) persuaded us to be there. One: Marwan Barghouti had personally given post-massacre shelter and money to members of the Hamas gang that planned and carried out the bombing of the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in which our teenage daughter was murdered three years earlier. He was, in legal terms, an accessory after the fact to the terrorism...  
For us as recently bereaved Israelis, grieving for the lost life of a fifteen year-old daughter with such goodness and potential, it was almost unbearably painful to observe the lengths to which Israel's organs of justice bent over backwards to give this prominent member of the loathsome Palestinian political 'elite', a first-degree Arafat inner-circle insider, the fairest and most transparent of trials.  
One of lawyers in the defense counsel team was the self-parodying (and subsequently disgracedShamai Leibowitz, grandson of one of modern Israel's great religious philosophers. Leibowitz proposed to the court, with chutzpah that brought some of us to point of choking with rage, that the cold-blooded Barghouti with those deeply blood-drenched hands ought to be viewed as a warrior in the service of freedom, challenging the Pharaohs of his time. The court ought to think of him as being like Moses, Israel's great Law Giver. There were less bizarre moments too. 
Murdered on Marwan Barghouti's
orders in March 2002: Police Sgt Major Salim
Barakat, 33, an Israeli Druze, father of a
3 year old daughter
It appears we are now facing a fresh round of bizarre Barghouti moments, the theological equivalent of fashioning a silk purse out of a female pig's aural orifice

As reported by a church news site a few hours ago [Episcopal Digital Network
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has endorsed the nomination of Palestinian political prisoner, Marwan Barghouthi, for the Nobel Peace Prize. In the nomination letter sent by the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, he said, “I decided to support this campaign alongside seven other Nobel Peace Prize laureates as a reflection of our belief that freedom was the only path to peace… I hope the Nobel Committee will take a bold decision bringing us closer to the day this holy land, charged with unique symbolic value, can stop being a living testimony of injustice and impunity, occupation and apartheid, and can finally be a beacon of freedom, hope and peace.”
Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, is, to put it mildly, not one of our favourite church-people - or people of any kind - on the basis of his years of explicit support for Palestinian Arab terror and for Barghouti. He has been a member of the modestly-named International High Level Committee of the Campaign for the Freedom of Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian Prisoners, launched in October 2013.

Nine years ago we noted [here] what he said when Gaza erupted in an Arab-on-Arab bloodbath with Hamas and Fatah battling it out for winner-takes-all control of the rich-in-absolutely-nothing enclave: Tutu, watching the thuggery and the slaughter from a safe distance, said he was "in despair over these events", though he claimed to understand why the rival factions were at each other's throats:
"When you are oppressed, it is so very easy to turn on yourselves," he said.
Murdered on Marwan Barghouti's
orders in March 2002: 
Eli Dahan, 53
And so easy, we reminded ourselves at the time, to blow up innocent women, children, men, schools, hospitals, restaurants. So easy. And to have church leaders slobber their sympathy all over your poor oppressed heads.
The only thing more appalling about what the Palestinian Arabs have done to themselves is the unforgivable forgiveness, the incomprehensible understanding emanating from such ill-informed, theologically-addled, hand-wringing, high-profile individuals as the pious church-man quoted above. Without him and the many others like him, the devastation and misery of the Pal-Arabs could have ended decades ago. [Our June 2007 blog post]
Painful as this is, Barghouti and his terrorist handlers must be quietly confident the crimes of the bigoted, violent Fatah apparatchik will recede into the past as a groundswell of support builds for the frankly absurd notion that he is a peacemaker - perhaps the peacemaker - who can bring the Palestinian Arabs into a meaningful dialogue with the despised Israelis. The moral gymnastics involved in seeing things in that upside-down, black-is-white fashion are reality in this part of the world, and explain why we find it necessary to spend so much time reminding audiences of the catastrophic Shalit Deal and the ongoing suffering it has delivered.

The idea that Barghouti is now a serious contender for the same award that the Nobel Committee gave to Tutu - and with Tutu's enthusiastic endorsement - is an indictment of Tutu's twisted values and the values of the ideologues promoting this ugly initiative.

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