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How the Media Turned a Terrorist Mastermind Into the ‘Palestinian Nelson Mandela’

Marwan Barghouti gestures as Israeli police bring him into the District Court for his judgment hearing in Tel Aviv, May 20, 2004. Photo: Reuters / Pool / David Silverman.

The “Palestinian Nelson Mandela” (Associated Press).

A “political prisoner” (Times of London).

The man most likely to serve “as a credible negotiator of a Palestinian state” (former Human Rights Watch chief Ken Roth).

These are just some of the terms that have been used to describe Marwan Barghouti in both traditional media and social media ever since it was revealed that, as part of its negotiations with Israel, Hamas is demanding Barghouti’s release from prison.

With Barghouti’s name back in the headlines, this is a good opportunity to remind both the media and the general public about who he really is and what his potential release could mean for Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and regional stability.

No, @thetimes, Marwan Barghouti is not a “political prisoner.” He was convicted for the murder of five innocent civilians in three terrorist attacks.

Writing a puff piece portraying him as a Palestinian Nelson Mandela is insultingly premature.

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) February 5, 2024

Born in the West Bank in 1959, Marwan Barghouti’s introduction to Palestinian terrorism came at the age of 15, when he joined Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement.

At that time, Fatah had already conducted numerous terror attacks against Israeli civilians and civilian infrastructure.

At the age of 19, Barghouti was imprisoned by Israel for four years for his role in a Fatah terror attack.

In 1987, Barghouti was charged with anti-Israel incitement and deported by Israel to Jordan.

In 1994, as part of the Oslo Accords, he returned to the West Bank and became heavily involved in Palestinian politics, gaining a seat in the 1996 Palestinian Legislative Council election.

In the late 1990s, Barghouti became the head of Fatah’s Tanzim faction, which was responsible for internal security but also led Fatah’s terrorist campaign against Israel during the Second Intifada.

Barghouti is also alleged to have been a founding member and senior official in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a Fatah-affiliated terrorist organization founded in 2000.

While Barghouti was initially supportive of the Oslo peace process in the late 1990s, he became more militant by the turn of the century, believing that only violence could bring about a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In 2000, Barghouti took a leading role in fomenting the Nakba Day riots in May and was instrumental in inciting the Temple Mount riots in September. The latter is widely seen as the beginning of the violent Second Intifada period.

Between 2000 and 2002, Barghouti headed Fatah in the West Bank, led the Tanzim and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and headed the umbrella organization of Islamic and national forces, which was responsible for much of the terrorist activity during that time.

Initially, Barghouti advocated for focusing violence against Israeli soldiers and settlers (including men, women and children) but then expanded his campaign of terror to all of Israel.


In 2002, Barghouti was arrested by Israeli forces, and, in 2004, he was sentenced by the Tel Aviv District Court to five consecutive life terms for his role in the deaths of five victims of terror.

These victims included four Israelis murdered in two separate terror attacks (a shooting at a gas station near Jerusalem and a shooting/hand grenade attack at a Tel Aviv restaurant), and a Greek monk who was shot while driving near Jerusalem.

In addition, the court also found Barghouti guilty of orchestrating a failed suicide bombing outside a mall in Jerusalem and convicted him of heading a terrorist network.

In its verdict, the court found that Barghouti was morally responsible for many other attacks through his encouragement of terrorism, and was a key actor in acquiring funding from Yasser Arafat for Fatah terrorists.

Since his imprisonment, Barghouti has developed a mythic persona, portrayed as an ultimately peace-seeking Palestinian leader who is the only one able to unify the Palestinian factions and realistically attain a final status agreement with Israel.

However, this myth is unproven even if some media wish it were the reality.

In the more than 20 years that Barghouti has been in prison, he has made a number of statements, some of which appear to advocate for peace while others are more violent.

For example, in January 2012, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Barghouti had announced to reporters while at a court appearance that the withdrawal of Israel to the 1967 lines would bring an end to the conflict.

However, less than three months later, Barghouti smuggled out a message from prison that called on the Palestinians to halt peace negotiations with and boycott Israel, and sever all cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel (including security coordination). The end of security coordination would ultimately lead to the rise in anti-Israel terror activities.

In 2014, Barghouti made two public statements, claiming the right of Palestinians to “resistance in all its forms” and advocating for the “re-adoption of the ‘resistance’ option” by the Palestinians.

As late as December 2023, as Israel was in the midst of battling Hamas in Gaza following the October 7 massacre, Barghouti released a message that called on the Palestinians in the West Bank to join the “resistance” against Israel, and specifically called on members of the Palestinian security services to turn their weapons against Israel.

It is commonly claimed that, as a popular Palestinian figure, Marwan Barghouti is the first in line to replace Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority and that he will be able to both reform the PA and steer it toward a final status agreement with Israel.

However, according to analysts, this might not be the case.

In its study of Barghouti, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center notes that the idea that Barghouti (who has been absent from the forefront of inter-Palestinian politics for over 20 years) is capable of becoming a Nelson Mandela-like figure, uniting all the Palestinian factions while re-igniting peace talks with Israel, is exaggerated.

While Barghouti’s long imprisonment and leadership of the Second Intifada have made him a popular figure on the Palestinian street, it is unclear if he enjoys the status that the Western media applies to him.

Even as far back as 2009, the Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh wrote that Marwan Barghouti’s image as the Palestinian Nelson Mandela was more a construct of the foreign media and less a sentiment shared by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

As an example of how Barghouti’s image might be larger than his actual influence, the Meir Amit Center points out that under his leadership, the 2017 Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike “was not overwhelmingly supported by the Fatah leadership and the PA, or the Palestinian public.”

It’s not only his questionable popularity that clouds the media’s glorification of Marwan Barghouti and anticipation of his possible release.

As Seth Mandel notes in a recent article for Commentary Magazine, Mahmoud Abbas is still clinging on to power as head of the PA. The release of his “more popular rival” is “a recipe for chaos.”

The havoc created by Palestinian infighting coupled with Barghouti’s well-known tactic of using terrorism to put pressure on Israel is a perfect storm that may lead the region into further violence and turmoil.

Thus, while the foreign media and political commentators may be laying the groundwork for welcoming Marwan Barghouti’s release, it is important to keep in mind that, despite the impression promoted by the media of a Palestinian Nelson Mandela, he is a convicted terrorist mastermind whose entrance into Palestinian politics may lead to more violence and a further deterioration of the security situation for both Palestinians and Israelis.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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PA Libel: Bible Teaches That Only Jews Are Human, Didn’t Learn From Hitler

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visiting the West Bank city of Jenin. Photo: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Authority (PA) antisemitism is both vicious and fundamental to PA ideology. The PA’s demonization of Jews, Israel, and Jewish sources and traditions, has a very sinister purpose: It is the basis for Palestinian hatred and justifies murder.

Put simply, once the PA leadership convinces Palestinians that Jewish/Israeli evil is innate to Jewish nature — and endangers Palestinians and all humanity — Palestinians feel justified and even righteous about hating and killing Jews.

Official Palestinian TV recently broadcast one of the PA’s hate libels about Jews and Judaism, spewed forth by the father of terrorist.

After complaining about his terrorist son’s home being destroyed, he explained that “love of revenge is innate for them [Jews]. They learned it in the Talmud and the Bible.” He then repeated additional libels that echo PA/Fatah antisemitism about the evil beliefs of Jews, falsely claiming it is part of the Hebrew Bible:

Their biblical belief is that God created non-human beings in the form of humans. Only they are human, only Jews are human; the rest of humanity is not human. This is how they [Jews] think and this is how they behave. [emphasis added]

[Official PA TV, Jan. 24, 2024]

In reality, the Bible teaches that all people are created with the/in the/ “Image of God.”

Fatah taught that same libel about Jewish belief in its documentary about the evil nature of Jews:

In Europe, the [Jewish] tribe established camps and residential areas, crowded ghettos in order to separate from other people out of arrogance and disgust for non-Jews … who according to their [Jews’] worldview are snakes …

[The Jews] were hated because of their racism and their filthy behavior … They swear :… “Only we are people, and all the others are our animals.” [emphasis added]

[Official Fatah Facebook page, July 15, 2019]

The PA Fatah libel that was echoed by the father of the terrorist has practical implications: Since Jewish evil behavior is innate to Jewish belief, then the only solution is destruction.

Accordingly, the terrorist’s father then prayed that Allah should bring another Holocaust on the Jews, bringing up people like Hitler, Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, and Pharaoh.

With this prayer, he was again echoing PA religious teachings, that the Jews deserve their punishment from Allah, because they are “planning and systematically working to incite wars and strife in the entire world.” Because of this, he said, Allah sent the Nebuchadnezzar to destroy the First Temple, then he sent the Roman Titus to destroy the Second Temple, and then Hitler and the kings of Europe, and still the Jews did not learn their lesson.

The father of the terrorist, prayed for Allah to bring a new Hitler to torture the Jews:

We ask Allah to send someone who will torture them like Hitler did, and before him Nebuchadnezzar [Babylonian king who destroyed the Temple] and before him Pharaoh [who enslaved them]. [emphasis added]

PA TV taught that Hitler and Nebuchadnezzar were Allah’s punishment of the Jews:

The occupation [i.e., Israeli] government hasn’t learned from history, from [Allah’s punishments for] the corruption of the Children of Israel the first and second time. It hasn’t learned. They [The Jews] didn’t learn from what Nebuchadnezzar did to them [destroyed the First Temple]. They didn’t learn from what Titus the great Roman leader, did to them [destroyed the Second Temple]. They didn’t learn from what Hitler did to them, and the kings of Europe, and Spain — they didn’t learn.”

[Masoud Rayyaan, lecturer on Islamic Shari’a at Al-Quds Open University,Official PA TV, Oct. 19, 2018]

Palestinian Media Watch has been warning for years that the PA’s teachings and antisemitism must be expunged from PA teachings and national ideology before any peace process can be undertaken. See Itamar Marcus’ recent presentation to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, showing the connection between PA antisemitism and the October 7 Palestinian atrocities.

The author is the founder and executive director of Palestinian Media Watch, where a version of this article first appeared.

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The Leftist White Supremacists

Illustrative: New York University students stage a protest in Washington Square Park in Manhattan to oppose Israel and call for a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 25, 2023. Photo: Gordon Donovan/NurPhoto via Reuters Connect

On Jan. 25th, Temple Emanu-El in New York City held a memorial service for Henry Kissinger. This was unacceptable to leftist millennials. Hundreds gathered across the street to cheer on the diplomat’s death, holding signs that read “F—k Kissinger” and “Death to US Imperialism.”

But that wasn’t enough for a group of white millennials. Six surrounded an elderly couple as they were leaving the service, shouting: “You’ll burn in hell forever!” “You f–n piece of sh-t!” “We will burn your homes too!” The leader of the pack, a tall redhead, mocked the couple and threw water in their faces.

The synagogue, on the Upper East Side, was the first Reform congregation in New York city, and is one of the largest shuls in the United States. It is also fairly close to where I live. But that’s not what made the scene so disturbing. As my son, 14, said when I showed him the video: “Who does that to an elderly couple?”

Who, indeed? Anti-Israel protests have brought to the fore a contingent that would please both Hitler and Stalin: they’re white, neo-Marxist, ignorant — and despise Jews. They are the new White Supremacists, who in both their ignorance and abhorrence of Judeans, might even share some laughs with the old White Supremacists.

New Yorkers are well familiar with this group. As “teachers,” they screamed at our sons for being male and tried to indoctrinate them with every aspect of leftist orthodoxy. At protests they savage both the American and Israeli flags with glee. Their European and Australian counterparts have taken to chanting “Gas the Jews,” while offering up a Sieg Heil.

While there was no shortage of violence and incivility in the Antifa protests, this contingent of leftists consider Jews are a far bigger menace than neo-Nazis. Indeed, the new White Supremacists came to their antisemitism the old-fashioned way: scapegoating their problems on us. Their great-grandfathers were no doubt part of the gangs who beat up our great-grandfathers on the Lower East Side. Those who went to college were taught that Judeans, less than 2% of the world’s population and the most persecuted minority throughout history, are hyper-privileged, oppressors, and neo-colonizers.

Indeed, the explosion of antisemitism in academia would never have been able to gain ground without the aid of white professors and administrators. Sure, they glommed onto neo-Marxism and Islamism as vehicles for their deep hatred — but neither ideology created the hatred.

In fact, the hatred became the answer to their own intersectional dilemmas: If “whites” are the root of all evil, how to absolve their own white guilt? By spitting, literally or figuratively, on Jews. Never mind that we are an ethnicity that hails directly from the Middle East, multi-hued only because of the rapes and forced conversions we endured after being exiled from our homeland.

Leftists’ self-anointed supremacism was another way out. Why listen to Martin Luther King, Jr.? Essentializing race — calling for re-segregation — allows the anointed ones to maintain control, while fending off questions about their own oppressor status. Why make the schools in Harlem better? That would give people agency. Leftists’ bigotry of low expectations — their blatant racism — is quite necessary for both their own hyper-privilege and path to power.

And then came along their best card: the “cause” of Arabs who identify as “Palestinian.” Not only were they able to fabricate the most vile and ahistorical lies about the world’s only Jewish state, but all Jews — leftist or not — could now be harassed and abused for the sin of being Jewish.

Jewish students have been forced to stand in the corners of classrooms, walk across stages with their heads down, self-mutilate verbally. Leftist professors could barely contain their glee. They finally had us where they and their brethren wanted us: lined up at the guillotine.

Except their plan missed a key element. These were not the poor, persecuted Jews that their great-grandfathers beat up. These Jews are Zionists — Maccabees. These Jews are proud; they fight back. Not by using lies and violence. But by using precisely what white leftists fear the most: our brains.

Bill Ackman represents the new Maccabean Jew; he’s currently giving leftists nightmares. As for the white millennials attacking elderly Jewish couples in New York, I’ll just quote my Israeli neighbor: “The one benefit of social media: we know who they are.”

Karen Lehrman Bloch is editor in chief of White Rose Magazine. A version of this article was originally published by The Jewish Journal.

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Major Israeli Tech Entrepreneur Gil Shwed Retires

Gil Shwed, former Chief Executive of Network security provider Check Point Software Technologies, speaks during the annual Cyberweek conference at Tel Aviv University, Israel, June 20, 2016

Gil Shwed, one of Israel’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, announced his retirement on Tuesday, bringing an end to his 30-year tenure as CEO of Check Point, an Israeli software firm.

“This year Check Point celebrated 30 years since its establishment, in which we managed to generate growth and reached a peak in almost every parameter. I feel that this is the right time for me to focus on Check Point’s next leap,” Shwed, 56, said. “We are now looking for a replacement for the position of CEO. It’s a process that will take time and even when it ends I will remain involved. I want to focus less on the daily work, and more on the future of the company.”

Check Point was founded in 1993 by Shwed, Shlomo Kramer, and Marius Nacht. Shwed and Kramer were friends from their time together in Israel’s elite cyber unit 8200.

The company provides AI-powered advanced software and hardware for cyber security to more than 100,000 customers globally, bringing in more than $2 billion per year in revenue.

Headquartered in Tel Aviv and publicly traded on the NASDAQ, Check Point has a market cap of more than $19 billion dollars, making it Israel’s second most valuable company, $2 billion less than automobile giant Mobileye Eye. Shwed’s role as CEO has allowed him to amass a fortune of $4.4 billion due to his 20% share ownership in the company.

Shwed is also a recipient of the Israel Prize, an annual award given to Israelis who have shown a high level of excellence in their specific fields. Shwed was given the first award in the technology field when it was introduced in 2018.

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