The NYT was slammed by Jewish organizations and leading figures for failing to mention that Marwan Barghouti is a convicted terrorist in his op-ed.
The New York Times came under fire on Monday for publishing an opinion piece by imprisoned Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti without mentioning that he is convicted of multiple murders.
Barghouti, who announced in a Sunday op-ed that he was launching a hunger strike with other Palestinian prisoners in Israel, was described by the Times only as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.”
No mention was made either in the op-ed or by the Times that Barghouti, who sought to portray himself as a political prisoner and a “victim” of the Israeli judicial system, was in fact sentenced to multiple life terms over his central role in several suicide bombings.
Yair Lapid, leader of Israel’s Yesh Atid political party, blasted the Times’ omission as “an intentional deception.”
Writing in a Times of Israel op-ed, Lapid said “the reality is that a convicted terrorist is inventing stories about those who imprison him, as prisoners do all over the world, including in the United States. Instead of saying to him – as a responsible newspaper should – that if he doesn’t have a shred of evidence to support his stories then they can’t be published, the New York Times published them in its opinion pages and didn’t even bother to explain to its readers that the author is a convicted murderer of the worst kind.”
In an interview with IDF Radio, former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren said Barghouti’s op-ed “was full of lies” and noted it was published during the Jewish holiday of Passover, preventing the Israeli government from formally responding to its claims.
The Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), an Israeli military unit that manages day-to-day operations with Palestinians in the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip, also denounced the Times’ characterization of Barghouti.
“By referring to him only as a political figure, the Times failed to point out that after a fair trial in 2004, Barghouti was convicted of murder and carrying out terrorist acts and was therefore sentenced to five life sentences and an additional 40 years in prison. Barghouti is a murderer of Israeli civilians,” COGAT stated.
Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro echoed these criticisms, writing on Twitter, “It’s debatable if Marwan Barghouti has a political future. Pals & Israelis debate it. But NYT was wrong not cite his terrorism conviction.”
The failure was also noted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), which tweeted that the Times “must have forgotten to mention that Marwan Barghouti is a convicted terrorist, responsible for the murder of innocent civilians.”
A Leader of Terrorism
Barghouti gained prominence during the second Palestinian intifada as the leader of Tanzim, the armed wing of Fatah, which carried out multiple terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, including children. He also helped establish Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in 2000, which has been blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the European Union.
Under Barghouti’s leadership, the al-Aqsa Brigade helped escalate the second intifada by launching numerous terrorist attacks against civilians. These include the January 2002 Bat Mitzvah massacre, in which Palestinian terrorists killed six people at a birthday celebration for a 12-year-old Jewish girl, as well as the March 2002 Yeshivat Beit Yisrael massacre, in which a Palestinian suicide bomber killed eleven Israeli civilians, including two infants, three children, and two teenagers.
Barghouti was arrested by Israel in April 2002 and charged in relation to suicide bombings and shooting attacks that claimed the lives of hundreds of Israeli civilians and soldiers, and wounded hundreds more. He was convicted in May 2004 of his involvement in three terrorist attacks in Israel that killed five people: Greek Orthodox monk Tsibouktsakis Germanus; police officer Sgt.-Maj. Salim Barakat, 33; Yoela Hen, 45; Eli Dahan, 53; and Yosef Habi, 52.
He was acquitted on charges of 33 other murders due to lack of evidence of direct involvement, with the court noting, “he did not have direct control over the terrorists but did wield influence.”
Not a Palestinian Mandela
Barghouti has over the years sought to portray himself as a proponent of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians who opposes violence against civilians.
In a 2001 interview with journalist Jeffrey Goldberg he was asked whether the conflict would end if he received “one hundred per cent” of his demands from Israel. Barghouti tellingly responded: “Then we could talk about bigger things … I’ve always thought that a good idea would be one state for all the peoples.”
Barghouti was elected to Fatah’s Central Committee in December, winning more votes than any other candidate. Polls consistently show that he is one of the most popular Palestinian political figures.
In The Myth of the Palestinian Mandela, published in the April-May 2017 issue of The Tower Magazine, media analyst Dexter Van Zile criticized efforts to whitewash Barghouti’s terrorism convictions and portray him as a “Palestinian Nelson Mandela.”
The NYT finally published a clarification on Monday.
“This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy,” NYT explained.
By: The Tower and United with Israel Staff