Ethics Dunce: Marwan Barghouti, The Snacking Hunger Striker

See, this is the thing: if you are secretly snacking while leading a hunger strike, you’re doing it all wrong. Gandhi didn’t do this. At least we don’t think he did.

 Over a thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are in the third week of a mass hunger strike, demanding better conditions. Now the leader of the strike, terrorist Marwan Barghouti who i being  held in solitary confinement at the Kishon prison, has been caught on camera eating cookies and a candy bar.  Israel released videos of the would-be martyr sneaking snacks in his cell, and naturally  Palestinian leaders called foul, dismissing the videos as fakes aimed at demoralizing his hungry followers. The problem is that Barghouti has cheated before.

In 2004, leading another hunger strike, he was caught on camera eating while his fellow prisoners were refraining from food like good hunger strikers. Not knowing he was being surveilled,  the Palestinian leader covered the door and window of his cell,  washed his hands and chowed down after asking wardens for food.  The Israeali Prison Services spokesman said that cameras were set up to show the fasting prisoners how their leader was behaving. “Barghouti is sitting on a pot of meat and he sends his friends to die,” the spokesman said at the time.

Thus this terrorist’s credibility is not very high when it comes to hunger strikes. Obviously he is not cut out for this particular form of protest; to be fair, not everyone is. It is really, really dishonest and wrong, however, to lead others to starve themselves and then secretly pig out. India might still be part of the British empire today if Gandhi was caught on candid camera scarfing down buffalo wings and Fritos. Secretly snacking while leading a hunger strike is a direct contradiction of the term “leader,” and has the especially distasteful feature of conning both the target of the protest and those protesting.

If you are not familiar with the snacking hunger striker, Barghouti founded the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade terror group and was the leader of Fatah’s armed wing, the Tanzim, during the second intifada before being captured by Israeli forces in April 2002. He was tried on 21 counts of murder in 2004, acquitted for “lack of sufficient evidence,” but  was sentenced to five life sentences for five murders in three attacks, plus an additional 40 years imprisonment for attempted murder.

Last year, Belgian members of Parliament  nominated Barghouti for the Nobel Peace Prize. I’m sure the murders won’t count against his candidacy, but surely the fake hunger strike should.

The Mahatma would not approve.


Facts: Jewish News, NYT

9 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Marwan Barghouti, The Snacking Hunger Striker

  1. Maybe he smoked some weed and that clouded his judgement. I don’t this guy is cut out to become a terrorist martyr. The Belgiums nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize? Boy there must be some red faces in Brussels!

  2. Taken from the Yale grad-student play book:

    (This is even worse than the original article I was going to link to, where students would leap frog: strike until they could go on no longer, and then another student would starve themselves).

    As a recent former grad student myself, I voted to organize when the University of Connecticut gave the Graduate Student Association two options: an immediate phase out of health insurance, or an immediate cut.

    I however, I would have personally sent a letter to the university president, the governor, national labor board, etc, rescinding my vote if union organizers pulled a stunt like this. A hunger strike is essentially a coercive measure, a threat of suicide. It is only appropriate in the most extreme of circumstances, where the power discrepancy is huge, and the aggrieved party has no other leverage.

    The appropriate response is for Yale to expel the students (especially if this were a true hunger-strike), suspend and/or fire them. The Yale students are making a mockery of themselves, and diluting the power of hunger strike. It is especially depressing that this totalitarian tantrum they are throwing is reminiscent of terrorists in Israel, especially that both are receiving worldwide praise for their ‘courage’.

    (It is times like this that I am thankful that in 1893, the Connecticut General Assembly revoked Yale’s Land-Grant status in favor of the Connecticut Agricultural College (today’s University of Connecticut – otherwise I might be a cowering Bulldoge, rather than a goofy little Husky).

  3. “Last year, Belgian members of Parliament nominated Barghouti for the Nobel Peace Prize.”

    I am curious, but also afraid to know why.

  4. Wait, he’s in solitary but he managed to coordinate a hunger strike?

    This reminds me of the stories out of the POW phase of SERE school. How they’d take the highest ranking “prisoner”, isolate him from his men and interrogate him for a day then sleep deprive him for more, then they’d finally leave him alone in a cell with a mattress and silence. In his near immediate sleep, they come in and place fast food wrappers around his bed with half eaten burgers. Then they’d parade his men by his door so they could see him “comfortable” and “well fed”, to try to break their spirits.

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