What do Marwan Barghouti, Yasser Arafat, Ahmad Qureia – and leaders past and present of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others – have in common? Besides encouraging their followers to kill Jews in Israel, they regularly pull the wool over their followers’ eyes, lying, cheating and profiting from the suffering of the Palestinians. They habitually sacrifice average Palestinians in their struggle against Israel, while protecting themselves and their loved ones from harm.
The latest is the case of Marwan Barghouti, West Bank leader of Arafat’s Fatah movement, founder of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade (outlawed as a terrorist organization by the United States) and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Barghouti is serving five consecutive life terms in an Israeli prison for his involvement in terrorist activities that caused the deaths of many Israelis.
What did he do?
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, along with Fatah’s Barghouti, recently called on Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli prisons to start a hunger strike. They’ve been into it for a few days now, the prison authorities report that over 2,000 prisoners are starving themselves. The Palestinian Authority and Israeli Arab groups have organized demonstrative solidarity days with the hunger strikers … but not Barghouti – he was caught on a hidden video camera in his cell … eating!
That’s right, while his fellow prisoners were refraining from food, Marwan Barghouti, the Tanzim terrorist leader, was caught on camera feeding his face. First he covered the door and window of his cell – so as not to be seen – then he washed his hands and pigged out.
According to Prison Services spokesman Ofer Lefler, Barghouti asked wardens for the food and ate without knowing that a camera was filming from a small hole in the wall. Israel wanted to catch him, to show fasting prisoners how their leader was behaving, Lefler said. “I want to show the world and the Palestinians that we are dealing with terrorists,” Lefler continued, “Barghouti is sitting on a pot of meat and he sends his friends to die.”
Imagine that …
Then there’s Yasser Arafat. No, he wasn’t caught eating – yet – but, he did tell the Palestinian Legislative Council in Ramallah, that the hunger strikers are “shaheeds” (martyrs – I guess he’s planning their early demise) saying:
Your release is at the top of our list of priorities. Together we will continue fighting until the establishment of our own state with Jerusalem as its capital. [Minister of Internal Security Tzahi] Hanegbi says that he doesn’t care if you starve to death. I say to him that he does not scare us when he says we will die since we are all prepared to be Shaheeds.
Arafat threatens martyrdom every so often to encourage his people to kill themselves, but when faced with real opportunities to be a martyr himself, he backs off (see my April 2004 article, “Arafat Plays Victim Again“).
Yasser has done a good job of making sure Suha, his wife, and little girl, Zahwa, age 9, are safely absconded in France, far from any real danger. That’s while other 9-year-old Palestinian children attend terrorist summer camps, dreaming and praying for martyrdom (i.e., to kill Israelis and themselves). Suha lives on over $150,000 a month, with millions more in the bank. In fact, the French have been carrying out an investigation into Suha’s accounts – it seems she might be involved in Yasser’s money-laundering activities.
Yasser has been accused of having skimmed over the years $1-3 billion from Palestinian funds, for private use. So, while Yasser Arafat encourages the children of his people to sacrifice their lives for the cause, he makes sure his daughter is safe in France. And while millions of ordinary Palestinians are in starvation-type conditions, living from day to day, Arafat’s wife allegedly lived at a $16,000 a day hotel (suite plus 19 rooms) in Paris when she first got there, shopping in the most exclusive Parisian shops, and now has a mansion in an exclusive Parisian neighborhood.
Charges of corruption in the PA are rife, and recently Arafat was forced to admit – in a speech to the Palestinian Legislative Council – to making “mistakes” and pledged to clean up the Palestinian Authority. But he refused to sign anti-corruption legislation. In a “stormy and tense” follow-up meeting afterward with pro-reform legislators, Arafat told them, “[that his speech] was enough and that there is no need for any signatures,” said Azmi Shouabi, one of the meeting’s participants.
Then there’s Ahmad Qureia (Abu Ala) the Palestinian prime minister and another Fatah leader. He’s been embroiled in what’s been called the “PA cement scandal.” Several Arab companies have been importing cement from Egypt on behalf of Israeli contractors. The Egyptian cement is then used to build parts of the separation fence, as well as new houses in Jewish communities in Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza).
They’ve been making a lot of money. And, according to reports, the Al-Quds Cement Factory in Abu Dis – in eastern Jerusalem – has been accused by others in the PA of supplying material for the construction of the fence in Abu Dis itself and Jewish communities in Yesha. That factory is co-owned by the family of the PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia. So while Qureia screams about “the settlements and the wall,” he and his family are pocketing profits from their construction.
Maybe the Hamas and Islamic Jihad people are better?
Not a chance. While calling for more Israeli deaths – read, more Arabs killing themselves in terror attacks against Jews – Hamas and Jihad leaders scrambled like rats to hide in the woodwork every time Israel attempted another “targeted killing.” After Israel picked off Hamas leader Ismail Abu Shanab last year, all the top Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists were reported to have gone into hiding. That scenario repeated itself several times over the next year as Israel eliminated terrorist leaders Sheikh Yassin, Rantisi and others.
Shortly after Abu Shanab’s departure last year, I had to pay a condolence call where I tried to cheer up a mourner by telling him a joke. I told him:
I heard on the radio that one of the top Hamas officials was on a live telephone interview with Al-Jazeera TV (which is very important for their propaganda campaign) when he heard something outside, the sound of helicopters in the distance. He immediately told the reporter, ‘I am sorry, this interview is over, I have to go now’. Click went the phone.
I then told him:
The good news is that all the top Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists are reported to have gone into hiding. They’re all running like rats. Those so-called “holy warriors” who send off others to murder and die, they’re terrified.
That cheered him up, and it should cheer us up as well. For all their rhetoric, all these terrorist leaders aren’t running to be martyrs either. And do you think any of their sons or daughters are becoming suicidal bombers? Not a chance.
Compared to Arafat, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders – many who are now dead – who regularly incite the Palestinian masses to sacrifice themselves for Palestine, Barghouti’s little indiscretion – eating during a hunger strike – seems rather mild. And, can we really fault old Yasser for trying to better himself from the Palestinians’ pocketbook, or, Ahmad’s avaricious behavior?
It really is indicative of a much broader problem, that Palestinians face, the perfidy of their “leaders.”
But then again, they are terrorists aren’t they? And the biggest victims of Palestinian terrorism are the so-called Palestinian people themselves.
Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst and consultant. He has a master’s degree in international relations and policy analysis.