Peter Beinart Is an Apologist for Terror
Peter Beinart tries to trick his readers in his latest piece for the Forward. See if you can spot his sleight of hand as he describes the Israeli political reaction to the New York Times’ decision to publish an op-ed by Marwan Barghouti:
[Michael Oren believes] because Barghouti was convicted of terrorism, his cause is illegitimate, even monstrous. The problem with this argument is that it doesn’t only explain why Marwan Barghouti isn’t Nelson Mandela. It explains why Nelson Mandela isn’t Nelson Mandela either.
A decade earlier, when the Oslo Peace Process began, [Barghouti] had declared the era of military resistance over. “The armed struggle,” he claimed in 1994, “is no longer an option for us.”
Barghouti’s shift, which led him to play an active role in the second intifada, constituted a tragic mistake, even a crime, against both Palestinians and Israelis. I’m not justifying it. But he’s not the only national leader to have embraced armed struggle after losing faith in non-violence. Mandela did too.
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Beinart, whose parents were born in South Africa, knows very well that the analogy doesn’t hold water — so he tells half-truths to create it.
Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in 1964 for sabotaging South Africa’s power grid, and plotting to overthrow the government. No one was injured, let alone killed, by his actions.
Yes, Mandela supported violence against the state. Yes, sometimes African National Congress (ANC) violence killed civilians. But Mandela was not a murderer, and the ANC that he led never purposefully targeted civilians.
Barghouti, on the other hand, has been convicted of five murders — and more.
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs summed up Barghouti’s record as follows:
Barghouti was convicted in a criminal suit in Israeli district court on five separate counts of murder of innocent civilians.
Crimes orchestrated by Barghouti include: The murder of Greek monk Tsibouktsakis Germanus in Jerusalem on June 12, 2001; the murder of Yoela Hen in Jeruslaem on January 15, 2002; and the murder of Eli Dahan, Yosef Habi and Salim Barakat in Tel Aviv on March 5, 2002.
Barghouti was acquitted of 21 counts of murder in 33 other attacks, solely due to a lack of sufficient evidence.
Barghouti was the founder and senior official of the designated terrorist group the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which was responsible for massacring dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings and shooting attacks during the Second Intifada (2001-2005).
Barghouti also served as the head of the Tanzim, an armed faction in Fatah that carried out attacks on Israeli civilians during the Second Intifada.
During his trials in Israel, Barghouti showed no remorse for the murders that he committed.
There is a big difference between Barghouti and Mandela.
Furthermore, the New York Times, knowing that Barghouti was a murderer, didn’t let that influence its decision to publish his accusations against Israel (of torturing him, for example) as if they were facts. Barghouti clearly lied about Israeli prison conditions, and about Israel having arrested 800,000 Palestinians since 1967.
Moreover, Mandela clearly renounced his support for violence when he became a political leader. Barghouti is not a leader, and has not shown any remorse for his murders.
Beinart’s article is actually far more insidious than just comparing Barghouti and Mandela.
Beinart knows that despite Mandela’s history of supporting violence, the South African leader is viewed nowadays (rightly or wrongly) as a near-saint. Beinart’s intent is to make the reader feel the same way about Barghouti.
Beinart ends his article by pretending that his sickening argument has gone full circle:
“I was called a terrorist yesterday,” Mandela once said, “but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies, and that is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists.”
Do you hear that, Michael Oren? He’s talking to you.
There is no other way to read this than to say that Peter Beinart is trying to whitewash the actions of a terrorist who is responsible for the murders of many people, directly and indirectly.
Despite his halfhearted caveats and perverted downplaying of Barghouti’s terrorist past as “a tragic mistake” — as if Barghouti’s victims died in car accidents — this essay shows that Peter Beinart is an apologist for terror.