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Marwan Barghouti's continued relevance to the Palestinian public

Marwan Barghouti remains a hated figure in Israel for his involvement in terrorist activities during the second Intifada. However, his place as a national leader of the Palestinian people is unquestioned in the West Bank and Gaza. For this reason, Israelis will likely be seeing Barghouti on the other end of a negotiating table after his inevitable release from prison.

In a new book, smuggled out of jail page by page, Barghouti details his life behind bars in Israeli prisons. I have written a feature story about Barghouti’s new book, his current position inside Palestinian politics and where the campaign to free him is heading. You can read the whole piece at The National. Excerpts:

Fadwa Barghouti is a carefully appointed woman who has spearheaded her husband’s awareness campaign since the beginning of his current imprisonment. From the same village of Kober, Fadwa is a distant relative of Marwan, sharing the same fourth-generation great grandfather. Sitting in her comfortable office overlooking the Muqata compound where Yasser Arafat was confined by Israeli forces at the height of the Second Intifada, Fadwa remains confident that her husband will be released soon, but is visibly upset at the recent failure by Hamas to gain his freedom. “I know why he was not released,” she told me sipping sugary tea, “but I am not going to tell you.”

Sitting under the ubiquitous photo of her husband surrounded by Israeli prison guards with handcuffed hands held high, she glowingly reports that he is using his time in prison to enrich himself intellectually.

He is a ferocious reader, consuming books in English, Arabic, Hebrew and French on topics ranging from French colonial rule in Algeria to the latest biographies of the former US president Bill Clinton and Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister. He also has a deep respect for the work of Paulo Coehlo and the Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Liebowitz. Additionally, Barghouti has written two books and completed his PhD from the University of Cairo entitled, The Legislative and Political Performance of the Palestinian Legislative Council and its Contribution to the Democratic Process in Palestine from 1996 to 2008. His doctorate, like the recent book, was smuggled out of jail one page at a time and took years to complete.

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    1. Richard Witty

      The urge for peace is wonderful.

      And yet, the significance of the armed resistance during the second intifada was of an entirely different nature than the armed resistance of the South African ANC.

      Specifically, the ANC conducted military attacks on infrastructure, with the strictly disciplined intention to minimally harm civilians.

      The armed resistance of the second intifada was the oppossite. Its measure of success was the extent that civilians were killed.

      The ANC’s armed resistance earned a mix of condemnation (for any armed resistance) and admiration.

      The Al Aqsa Martyrs, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP armed resistance during the second intifada earned a mix of dismissal, fear and hatred.

      It was not a romantic period. Not a justifiably passing political mistake, certainly not without sincere and clear apology based on existential moral grounds, not just tactical.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ben Israel

      Comment was deleted

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ben Israel

      Comment was deleted

      Reply to Comment
    4. As one of my last posts on +972, it gives me great pleasure to delete your last two absurd comments Ben Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Ben Israel

      Comment was deleted. Goodbye Ben Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    6. AYLA

      No story has made me realize how little I understand about Palestinian politics (and, possibly, life) as much Marwan Barghouti’s, of which I became aware only around the prisoner release swap over Gilad Schalit. Looking forward to reading your feature piece, Joseph. Maybe, in the future, when you write for other publications and the work would benefit 972 readers, you can reprint here, as you are now? In any case, I trust we’ll being seeing you. Thank you, again, for everything. Talk about a man who walks his talk. Respect, as they say, here. As for your deleting powers; you had the ruby slippers all along. Just ask Ami, aka The Remover. 😉

      Reply to Comment
    7. AYLA

      p.s. love a book being smuggled out of jail, page by page.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Jacob Issidore

      I love your work Joseph…

      Reply to Comment
    9. Danny Demiculo

      “His doctorate, like the recent book, was smuggled out of jail one page at a time and took years to complete”

      Not true – the PhD was done with the approval of the jail authirities – hundreds of books (or “plenty” as Lisa would have put it) were allowed so he could finish his degree.

      http://www.news1.co.il/Archive/001-D-232999-00.html

      Reply to Comment
    10. Danny, the statements expressed in the article which you have linked to have been discredited by those close to Barghouti including his PhD supervisor. The process of gaining his PhD, according to these sources, took so long because his work had to be smuggled out. Only after he was close to gaining his PhD did the Israelis ‘acknowledge’ that he was working on a PhD and changed their policy in order to save face and allow narrow articles like the one you posted to be written. Thanks for you point.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Danny Demiculo

      You contradict yourself – If the Israelis allowed him obtain his PhD, why did he have to smuggle it out ?
      Many palestinian prisoners study while in Israeli jails – Barghouti is one of them. Even Sammir Kuntar, anthoer “resistance hero” grduated while in Israeli jail.

      http://reshet.ynet.co.il/%D7%97%D7%93%D7%A9%D7%95%D7%AA/News/Politics/Security/Article,39664.aspx

      But, of course, your sources are 100% committed to the truth, and there is absolutely no need to question their accuracy, as opposed to Israeli sources backed up by physical evidence.

      Reply to Comment