An Israeli prison guard escorts jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, middle, to a deliberation at Jerusalem Magistrate's court on Jan. 25, 2012. Photo by Baz Ratner/Reuters

Cookies for Barghouti; Crumbs for Palestinian people


Hunger strikes usually conjure up images of a united front of beleaguered campaigners for a just cause led by a heroic, larger-than-life leader.

Rarely however, does the mastermind behind a 1,000-strong hunger strikers get caught stuffing his face.

Now some Palestinians are left hungering for some truth.

Marwan Barghouti — the self-promoted reincarnation of Nelson Mandela — and a convicted murderer, recently called on Palestinians in Israeli prisons to join him in a hunger strike for better conditions. Only problem is a video showing Barghouti “eating two cookies and a candy bar in the toilet stall of his cell. The video shows Barghouti appearing to try to hide the evidence by flushing the wrapper down the toilet.”

Once a self-declared “peace advocate,” Barghouti turned mastermind of Intifada suicide bombing attacks against Israel. Barghouti was sentenced to fifteen years in jail on five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Just as he sent suicide bombers out to die during 2002-2005 while remaining safely behind the scenes, he now munches on cookies and, in the words of Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, while he “urged his fellow prisoners to strike [against prison conditions] and suffer while he ate behind their back.”

It is this Cookie Monster of Palestinian Murder Incorporated who, from behind bars, plots the destruction of democratic Israel while the Palestinian man and woman in the street, beggared by the pervasive corruption of the Palestinian Authority, struggle to survive on the crumbs.

Barghouti’s shameful, murderous hypocrisy is also reflected in another member of the Barghouti clan, Omar, who founded the so-called BDS (Anti-Israel) boycott of Israel. Never designed to help a single Palestinian, its goal is to use “soft power” to demonize and cripple the Jewish state. Among their main “victories”, forcing Sodastream to close its factory built past the 1967 Green Line. As a result, Palestinian workers who were paid equal salaries as their Jewish co-workers, lost their ability to sustain their families. Recently arrested for tax evasion, he was allowed to travel to Yale to pick up the Gandhi Peace Prize!

Hate, hypocrisy, terrorism, and corruption of their leaders only delay and derail the hope of Palestinians for a bright future.

Instead of leading boycotts of Israelis, Palestinians should have attended the recent. 2017 Milken Global Conference. There a panel which included renowned venture capitalist and former UC Regent Chair Richard C. Blum, a Rwandan businesswomen-activist Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, Angela Homsi, Director of Angaza-Africa Impact Innovation Fund, joined with Jeremy Bentley, Head of Financial Institutions and Public Sector, Citi Israel, and other Israeli hi-tech innovators to discuss visionary but practical projects. Among the ideas discussed were using drones to overcome the infrastructure deficit across the developing world, foster new technologies to enable nations to meet sustainable development and climate goals, and jump-starting business startups across Africa.

Don’t look for purported “next generation” Palestinian leaders like the Barghoutis to embrace the true path towards peace and statehood. So long as there are millions pouring from the UN, governments, and NGOs that help sustain the bigotry, corruption and terrorism, Palestinians thirsting for opportunity in the here-and-now are having to forge their own path to a brighter and more prosperous future.

Let us hope that the new leaders of the United Nations, Secretary General Antonio Guterrez and US President Donald Trump will lead the way by halting the funding of fraudsters, bigots, and murderers, and instead begin to invest in all those interested in real peace.


Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Dr. Harold Brackman is a historian and consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

+