What You Need To Know About Marwan Barghouti

To some observers, Marwan Barghouti promises a path to peace. To others, he inspires liberation. And to his jailers, he is a mass murdering terrorist.

Marwan Barghouti is widely seen as the most popular political figure in Palestinian society, but he is currently serving a life sentence for murder in an Israeli prison. Last week, Barghouti began a mass hunger strike with more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, demanding greater rights and changes to what he calls abhorrent prison conditions and treatment.

“Israel has established a dual legal regime, a form of judicial apartheid,” argues Barghouti in the New York Times, “that provides virtual impunity for Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians, while criminalizing Palestinian presence and resistance. Israel’s courts are a charade of justice, clearly instruments of colonial, military occupation.”

Barghouti’s hunger strike and op-ed have sparked fervent discussion as to its motives and validity. Among Israeli and Palestinian lawmakers and people, who this man is and what he wants remains open to debate, and public views are no less diverse. Here is a brief look at what prominent writers are saying about the controversial Palestinian leader.

Ben-Dror Yemini, Y Net News: “Barghouti Is Intentionally Lying, And So Is New York Times”

Famed Israeli journalist and writer Ben-Dror Yemini recalls his past friendship with Barghouti when his Palestinian counterpart emerged in the 90s as a leading voice in the Palestinian peace camp. But 20 years and one very violent Intifada later, Yemini only sees his former friend as distorting the comparatively tolerable conditions that terrorists like Barghouti experience in Israeli jails—with The New York Times disseminating his lies.

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel: “With Prison Strike, Barghouti Hopes To Prove Palestinian Street Is Still His”

While remaining popular in the streets, Barghouti’s political capital has diminished in prison, posits Avi Issacharoff. This strike will be a test of whether Barghouti can reassert authority and respect from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who by contrast has struggled with widespread unpopularity.

The Jerusalem Post Editorial Board: “No Barghouti Option”

The conservative Jerusalem Post editorial staff pores through the Palestinian prisoner demands to conclude this strike has nothing to do with prisoner conditions and everything to do with promoting Barghouti’s prospects for release and, ultimately, power.

Shannon Ebrahim, Al-Jazeera: “Palestine’s Mandela”

South African columnist Shannon Ebrahim, who previously interviewed Barghouti shortly before his arrest, offers the Palestinian-aligned viewpoint that Barghouti can be the Palestinian Mandela in the role of a liberator. Ebrahim believes Barghouti is the primary candidate to unify the Palestinian people, which is the Israeli regime’s greatest fear.

Steven Davidson is an editorial fellow at The Forward

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.
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What You Need To Know About Marwan Barghouti

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