Netanyahu: Barghouti is a political leader like Assad is a pediatrician

“Calling Barghouti a ‘political leader’ is like calling Assad a ‘pediatrician,'” Netanyahu said of the New York Times media bias.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday ridiculed the New York Times for labeling Palestinian terror leader Marwan Barghouti a “political leader.”

On Sunday, Barghouti published an op-ed in the Times in which he announced he was launching a hunger strike with other Palestinian prisoners in Israel. The Times described him only as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian,” neglecting to mention he was sentenced to multiple life terms over his central role in several suicide bombings.

Speaking at the Maimouna festivities in Dimona, Netanyahu said he read the article in the Times that “presents arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti as a ‘parliamentarian and leader’.”

“Calling Barghouti a ‘political leader’ is like calling Assad a ‘pediatrician,'” he said, referring to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, who is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his countrymen, and most recently killing dozens in a chemical attack. Assad is an ophthalmologist by training.

“They [Barghouti and Assad] are murderers and terrorists,” Netanyahu declared. “We will never lose our sense of clarity because we are on the side of justice and they are on the side that is neither just nor moral.”

“This moral clarity, the readiness to defend our country, the readiness to fight those who would destroy us, is one of our greatest strengths, alongside love of Israel,” Netanyahu added.

“We will continue to develop our country and we will continue to safeguard it,” he vowed, wishing the crowd a happy holiday.

The Times’ failure to mention Barghouti’s acts of terror elicited criticism from Jewish organizations and political figures.

The Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the IDF 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.

A Leader of Terrorism

Barghouti gained prominence during the second Palestinian Intifada as 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 11 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. 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.”

The NYT finally published a clarification on Monday, essentially recanting its original description of Barghouti.

“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: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News