I wrote a post recently contending that Marwan Barghouti, the Young Turk Palestinian leader, should be freed from an Israeli prison (Free Marwan Barghouti). Another one of my intrepid right-wing readers wrote back this nifty and dismissive reply:
He should be freed after America frees Scott Peterson, killer of his pregnant wife….sure: conspiracy on the part of Israel…everywhere, conspiracies! smell the coffee for a change.
In his own fuzzy way, he’s suggesting that Barghouti no more deserves freedom than Peterson. Just as Peterson is a common criminal and murderer, so too is Barghouti.
This begs an interesting and troubling question. If Barghouti is a common criminal, then what was Yitzchak Shamir whose Lehi terrorist faction (which he co-headed) assassinated Count Folke Bernadotte, the Swedish diplomat assigned by the UN to mediate the Israeli-Arab conflict in 1948? To be fair, Shamir denies involvement or prior knowledge of the operation, but I find this terribly hard to believe. Lehi also assassinated Lord Moyne, Britain’s minister of state for the Mideast, in 1944.
My right wing friends must explain to me how Shamir is a Zionist hero and former prime minister who was never punished for his alleged crimes; while Barghouti is a fiend and enemy of humanity. A bit of a discrepancy in their thinking, no?
In fact, the Wikipedia entry creates even more parallels between Barghouti and Lehi strategy:
It [Lehi] considered the British rule of Palestine to be an illegal occupation, and concentrated its attacks mainly against British targets (unlike the other underground movements, which were also involved in fighting against Arab militant groups). Lehi prisoners captured by the British generally refused to present a defence when brought to trial in British courts. They would only read out statements in which they declared that the court, representing an occupying force, had no jurisdiction over them and is illegal.
This was almost verbatim Barghouti’s approach at his own trial. He refused to present a defense and denied the right of an Israeli court to judge him for his actions. He too read and spoke statements of defiance in court.
Isn’t it interesting how one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter?