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Israel plans a show trial

August 30, 2002 | Page 3

AN ISRAELI court wants to put the Palestinian Intifada on trial. But it may find Israel's occupation on trial instead.

Marwan Barghouti was the second most popular Palestinian leader after Yasser Arafat when he was illegally arrested April 15--in territory supposedly under full control of the Palestinian Authority. Barghouti is a relative moderate, yet Israeli officials have nevertheless decided to subject him to a show trial--scheduled to begin September 5--in an attempt to discredit the Palestinian resistance. Now, four months of confinement, torture and interrogation at the hands of Israeli police have increased his standing all the more in the eyes of Palestinians.

For days on end, Barghouti was shackled to a chair that was angled forward--a method of torture called "position abuse," commonly used by Israeli intelligence. Last month, Barghouti made his first public appearance in court--and gave Israel a taste of his defense strategy. He raised his cuffed wrists above his hand and yelled, "The Intifada will win" in Arabic, Hebrew and English. As the television cameras rolled, he yelled, "I have a charge sheet with 50 charges against Israel for the bloodshed of both people!"

A day later, Israeli politicians were humiliated by the news that former South African president and political prisoner Nelson Mandela had agreed to attend the trial as an observer. "What is happening to Barghouti is exactly the same as what happened to me," Mandela said. "The government tried to de-legitimize the African National Congress and its armed struggle by putting me on trial."

The Palestinian struggle for justice will continue--no matter what lies and slanders that Israel hurls.

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