November 24, 2004 - On January 15, 2002 Yoela Chen, 45, a secretary at Wolfson Hospital in Holon, and her aunt Rachel Heini, 70 were driving to a family wedding in Jerusalem. They stopped in Giv'at Ze'ev, just north of Jerusalem, to get gas. Two Arabs approached the car and spoke to the women. Assuring themselves that the women were Jewish, they fired at the car, eight or nine rounds, hitting Yoela in the head and chest and killing her, and wounding her aunt in the shoulder and hand.
"She was a wonderful woman, she loved helping," said the brother of the bride. "She wanted to take part in the wedding, and her husband stayed home to take care of the children."
The attack on Yoela Chen was ordered, financed, and organized by Marwan Barghouti.
Barghouti admitted responsibility and was convicted of premeditated murder in an Israeli court. He was also convicted of ordering the attack in which a Greek Orthodox monk was murdered in Ma'aleh Adumim in June, 2001, and the attack at Tel Aviv's Seafood Market restaurant in March, 2002 that resulted in the deaths of three others.
The court treated him fairly and even leniently, acquitting him of 33 other attacks in which only his indirect involvement could be established.
Marwan Barghouti is a senior leader of Fatah and its Tanzim Militia, a known terrorist organization. On January 17, 2002 a member of the Tanzim attacked a bat mitzvah (girl's 12th birthday) party in Hadera in northern Israel, killing six and wounding 30. Israeli security sources have firmly established that Barghouti knew of this attack in advance and gave it his blessing (Yediot Ahronot, January 20, 2002).
Marwan Barghouti is also widely promoted as the most popular prospect to succeed Yasser Arafat.
There is a very dark irony here. Yasser Arafat was a mass murderer. So wouldn't Barghouti, himself an unrepentant convicted murderer, be his perfect successor? The problem, of course, is that his election would be a further sign that the Palestinians are not really interested in peace.
What does Barghouti himself have to say about peace? Here is Barghouti in his own words:
America is "the head of global terrorism." Referring to suicide bombers: "If Ramallah will not have security then neither will Tel-Aviv." (Al-Ayam [Palestinian Authority journal], March 6, 2002).
"I am sure... it is our right to use all means at our disposal to destroy our enemy.... We still have many options left, the mortar is not the last weapon in our arsenal" (Al Hayat Al Jadida [Palestinian Authority], May 8, 2001).
Concerning negotiations: "The armed struggle is part of the Intifada... which will continue until the liberation of our land and the establishment of our state" (Al Hayat Al Jadida, March 1, 2001).
On coexistence with Israel: "I've always thought that a good idea would be one state for all the peoples." (New Yorker interview, 2001).
The Palestinians may choose whom they wish. But the nonchalance by which much world reaction is greeting the prospect of Barghouti is surprising. Arabs say they want peace. Europe says it wants peace. Yet when it comes to the Palestinians, it seems that any leader will do, regardless of his record and the absence of any evidence that he has changed
Why is the bar set so low for the Palestinians? Yasser Arafat, a master terrorist who did all he could to obstruct peace, wins the Nobel Prize. Yet only Shimon Peres, one of the more dovish Israeli leaders, was pressured to give his back. Why are standards so much higher for Israelis?
There are only two possible answers: hypocrisy, or racism.
Hypocrisy, in that honoring either Arafat or Barghouti as men of peace indicates hostility toward Israel that is never admitted.
Racism, in that so little is expected of the Palestinians that those who murder women and children receive posts and prizes rather than condemnation.
Those who sympathize with the Palestinians - why do they not respect the Palestinians enough to hold them to the same high standards they hold the Israelis?
And if Palestinians are not expected to meet minimal standards of behavior in an international community, how can they be expected to lead a country of their own?
"Arab Terrorism Claims Two Lives as Arafat "Talks" Peace." Israel News Agency, January 16, 2002.
"Barghouti Sentenced To Five Life Terms." Israel National News, June 6, 2004.
Goldberg, Jeffrey. "The Martyr Strategy: What Does the New Phase of Terrorism Signify?" New Yorker, July 9, 2001.
"Marwan Barghouti, Fatah-Tanzim, and the Escalation of the Intifada." Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jerusalem Issue Brief, vol. 1 no. 16, January 24, 2002.
"Profile: Marwan Barghouti." BBC News, May 20, 2004.
"Published Excerpts - Maroun Barghouti." Israel Defense Forces News, November 24, 2002.
"Tanzim Leader Barghouti Convicted For Deaths of Five People." Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 20, 2004.
"This Peace is Killing Us: Memorial for the Israelis Murdered Since September 2000." gamla.org.
Peace with Realism