Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, reported last week that the imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti “released an unusual statement from his cell. He called on his people to start a popular uprising against Israel, to stop negotiations and security coordination and to boycott [Israel]. Barghouti recommended that his people choose nonviolent opposition.” Barghouti, as Haaretz noted, “is the most authentic leader Fatah has produced, and he can lead his people to an agreement. ... If Israel had wanted an agreement with the Palestinians it would have released him from prison by now.”The Ha'aretz quote is not a news article, but an editorial. But even its news coverage didn't properly report everything mentioned in Barghouti's letter.
I had gotten to know Barghouti before his five life sentences for involvement in killing Israelis. His call for nonviolent resistance is noteworthy and the latest in a series of appeals to and by Palestinians — coming from all over — to summon their own “Arab Awakening,” but do it nonviolently, with civil disobedience or boycotts of Israel, Israeli settlements or Israeli products.
Friedman, that journalist's journalist, of course cannot be bothered to fact check Ha'aretz editorials when they so neatly fit into his preconceived biases.
So without Friedman actually knowing the contents of the letter, he goes on to praise it and say it is consistent with his own strategy for Palestinian Arabs:
I can certainly see the efficacy of nonviolent resistance by Palestinians to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank — on one condition: They accompany any boycotts, sit-ins or hunger strikes with a detailed map of the final two-state settlement they are seeking. Just calling for “an end to occupation” won’t cut it.
Palestinians need to accompany every boycott, hunger strike or rock they throw at Israel with a map delineating how, for peace, they would accept getting back 95 percent of the West Bank and all Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and would swap the other 5 percent for land inside pre-1967 Israel. Such an arrangement would allow some 75 percent of the Jewish settlers to remain in the West Bank, while still giving Palestinians 100 percent of the land back.
In reality, the divergence between Friedman's interpretation of Palestinian Arab supposed calls for "nonviolent resistance" and the reality is stark.
It is not easy to find the text of Barghouti's letter. Fatah websites minimized coverage of the missive, while Hamas websites were more expansive in their coverage. Why, of Barghouti's main message is to call for non-violent resistance, is Hamas so interested in pushing his agenda, even with his calls for a boycott of Israel?
The actual letter gives us the answer, and it is not nearly as peaceful as Ha'aretz and Friedman try to represent it.
In his letter, Barghouti urges a 17-point strategy for Palestinian Arabs to take. None of them accept the existence of Israel. Here are those points, paraphrased.
1. Unify the people, stop the infighting and have the Palestinian Arab leadership take the problems seriously, because there can be no victory for national liberation movements without victory.
2. Stop negotiating with Israel, as Israel is not a partner for peace, and it is still building settlements. However, he claims, the settlement enterprise was "paralyzed" during the first four years of the violent second intifada, it led to the dismantling of Gaza settlements, and he implies that this is an important fact to remember.
3. "Emphasis on the absolute right of our people to resist occupation by all forms and means and methods", concentrating on the territories. The form of resistance must be chosen as far as suitability for each stage of the resistance, and it should concentrate on large scale popular resistance "at this stage," but in no way does he denounce terror and in fact he says quite clearly that terrorism is a legitimate and absolute right.
4. A comprehensive boycott of all Israeli goods.
5. Renewal of the effort to get the UN to recognize "Palestine," if not through the Security Council then through the General Assembly and other UN agencies.
6. Urge Arab nations to participate in political, economic, and diplomatic sanctions against Israel, and reject all forms of normalization.
7. Recruit Palestinian Arabs in the West and elsewhere to get involved in the development of the "Palestinian national movement."
8. Stop all security coordination with Israel and stop the PA security services from preventing terror attacks against Israel, and instead use them to prevent attacks from Israel.
9. Force any visiting politician to meet Palestinian Arab officials in Jerusalem before going to Ramallah.
10. Strengthen the Palestinian Arab economy, concentrating on products that are now being provided by Israel.
11. Fight corruption in Palestinian Arab government and institutions, as corruption "represents another face to the occupation."
12. Take advantage of Arab revolts and urge Arab nations to support Palestinian Arabs.
13. Invite ordinary Arabs to support Palestinian Arab political goals and the people.
14. Insist on preconditions before any negotiations can resume: release of all prisoners, Israeli recognition of the "1967 borders," commitment to end the "occupation" on all "occupied" lands, total cessation of settlements and recognition of the "right to return."
15. Releasing the prisoners who were part of the PA and Hamas governments.
16. Releasing prisoners who are serving life sentences (like Barghouti.)
17. Push for a UN resolution declaring all prisoners to be prisoners of war and freedom fighters, presumably to fall under the Geneva Conventions, and to boycott all Israeli legal institutions and not to use them at all to gain justice.
He then reiterates his major points:
The belief in the absolute right to the land of our parents and grandparents, and our right to resist occupation by all means and methods, and our belief in the ability of our people to survive and emerge victorious with unwavering faith, and our absolute confidence in our people in all generations to continue the path of resistance and struggle.
There is nothing the least bit moderate about Barghouti's position. He supports terror in its proper time and place, he supports the complete destruction of Israel in stages, and he insists the Arab world today to go back to how it was before 1967 and create a constant state of war with Israel on all levels.
Romanticizing Barghouti is supporting a mass murdering terrorist who explicitly wants to destroy Israel.
This is Thomas Friedman's - and Ha'aretz's - hero.