Taking the lead from pro-Palestinian and Palestinian Authority ‘news’ sites and some radical NGO’s, a few “mainstream” news publications have begun adopting the egregious misnomer “political prisoner” to refer to Palestinians convicted for their involvement in lethal terrorist attacks.
This euphemism of course distorts the clear meaning of a term widely understood as referring narrowly to those imprisoned merely for their political beliefs. In fact, earlier in the year CiF Watch was able to gain corrections at both the Guardian and The Independent after they initially referred to the pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners (who Israel agreed to release in order to resume peace talks) as “political prisoners.”
More recently, while monitoring press coverage of Israel’s latest announcement that they will release 26 additional pre-Oslo prisoners, we noted that a major South African newspaper used this distorted term in a story about Desmond Tutu’s support for a campaign calling for the release of convicted Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti.
Note the strap line in this Oct. 27 ‘Mail & Guardian’ report:
The Mail & Guardian’s characterization of Barghouti as a “political prisoner” does nothing to inform readers that this merely represents Tutu’s rhetoric, nor does it mention the crimes Barghouti committed. Here are the relevant passages in the Mail & Guardian report:
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on Sunday threw his support behind the campaign calling for the release of imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouthi and other Palestinian political prisoners.
“I am proud to associate myself with the global campaign for the freedom of Marwan Barghouthi and other Palestinian political prisoners,” Tutu said in a statement.
Barghouthi has been in an Israeli jail since 2002 where he is serving five life sentences for his role in the fight for liberation in Palestine.
The Mail & Guardian fails to report that Barghouti’s “fight for liberation in Palestine” involved three terror attacks in which five Israelis were murdered, as well as his membership in a terror organization. The court in fact determined that “Barghouti was responsible for providing the field units with money and arms” and that the attacks were sometimes “based on instructions” he received personally from Yasser Arafat.
Specifically, the court found Barghouti responsible for a June 2001 attack in Maale Adumim in which a Greek monk was murdered, a January 2002 terror attack in Givat Zeev, a March 2002 attack at Tel Aviv’s Seafood Market restaurant in which three people were murdered, and a car bomb attack in Jerusalem. (Details from the original indictment, which accused Barghouti of responsibility for 33 additional murders, can be viewed here.)
As CAMERA has reported, Barghouti is also widely considered one of the main leaders in the Palestinian campaign of violence during the Second Intifada and helped found and then lead the Fatah-based militias (the Tanzim and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades) which carried out numerous deadly suicide bombings.
Desmond Tutu can of course say anything he’d like about Marwan Barghouti, but those who fancy themselves serious journalists have the professional responsibility to distinguish between claims that are factually based, and those which represent the agitprop of radical activists.
Whilst the Mail & Guardian may not be affiliated with the ‘London’ Guardian, their parroting of pro-Palestinian propaganda suggests at least a degree of ideological overlap.