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April 19, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 6882

Palestinian Writer To Marwan Al-Barghouti: Hunger Strikes Achieve Nothing; What Palestinian People Are You Talking About?

April 19, 2017
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 6882

In a recent article on the liberal left-wing website Al-Hiwar Al-Mutamadin (alhewar.org), Palestinian writer Majdi 'Abd Al-Wahhab addressed the hunger strike that has been launched by Palestinians in Israeli prisons under the leadership of Marwan Al-Barghouti and has been dubbed "the Struggle for Freedom and Dignity." In the article, titled "Marwan, Hunger Is Degradation, Not Dignity," 'Abd Al-Wahhab criticized the strike, stating that hunger bears no connection to freedom and dignity and that this method has been tried many times in the past without yielding any positive results. He advised Al-Barghouti to pursue the goal of his own release from prison, so that he may spend the rest of his life with his family, and asked Al-Barghouti and his fellow prisoners to leave the Palestinians alone and let them enjoy their lives. He also wondered how Al-Barghouti could claim to speak in the name of thousands of prisoners when he was being held in solitary confinement and how he had managed to smuggle letters out of his solitary confinement cell.

It should be noted that 'Abd Al-Wahhab has written on the topic of Al-Barghouti in the past. In a May 2016 article he explained why there was no chance of Al-Barghouti's release from the Israeli prison.[1]

 


Marwan Al-Barghouti (image: karamapress.com)

"The Palestinian prisoners, or, to be accurate, many of them, are starting a hunger strike today after Marwan Al-Barghouti announced the strike in a letter that was no doubt smuggled out of solitary confinement cell no. 28 in Hadarim Prison, [where he is currently held]. First, before addressing the essence [of the letter], let me ask: How did the leader [Al-Barghouti] even manage to smuggle this letter out of a solitary confinement cell?! Perhaps with the help of miracle workers?...

"As for the letter [itself], Marwan addressed it to the people, [but] I do not know which people he is talking about. Does he still believe that the Palestinian people exists? Does he not know we are all on the brink of announcing that we relinquish our Palestinian identity? And may God forgive the Jews for turning us into a people!!

"Marwan Al-Barghouti began his letter with the words: 'I address you from my narrow solitary confinement cell.' And I ask: Can a solitary confinement cell be wide? And how can a letter like this be written from a solitary confinement cell? But worse than that is [the fact that] he claims to be 'among thousands of prisoners and [writing] in their name.' If he is in solitary confinement, how can he feel that he is among thousands [of prisoners]? Is this not a hallucination? And how can he feel that he speaks for [all the prisoners], unless the Israel Prison Service allowed him do so? I wish our leader had begun his letter with the words: 'I address those who wish to hear me after the Israel Prison Service allowed me to address this letter to you.' Then he went on to speak of 'the prisoners who decided to take part in the noble and heroic struggle for freedom and dignity– the battle of the open-ended hunger strike.' And I ask: How are freedom and dignity connected to hunger?! Does one need to go hungry in order to attain freedom and dignity? All I know is that hunger is a sign of degradation.

"Marwan Al-Barghouti then stressed that the prisoners have conducted dozens of protests and strikes over the [last] 50 years, and that over 200 prisoners have been martyred. I ask him: What did you attain with all these protests, sir, except for 'martyrdom'? And if these protests were to no avail, as evident from the 'martyrdom' – or actually death – of 200 [prisoners], why announce the present hunger strike?! After all, nothing has changed in your conditions of imprisonment, and I do not even want to go into the question of applying the term 'martyr' to one who died as a result of a hunger strike or who threw himself to his death.

"Marwan Al-Barghouti wrote that every year the occupation casts thousands into the darkness of its prisons and detention camps. I ask: What is he complaining about, if that is the road to freedom?! Is this not a [necessary] struggle [according to his beliefs]? Did he think Israel would hand out roses to those who kill its sons?! Is this not a kind of foolishness?!

"Moreover, Marwan noted that this strike takes place in the month of April, and reminded everyone who had forgotten [exactly] what happened in the month of April: '[It is] the month of the [Deir] Yassin massacre [and of the death of] 'Abd Al-Qadir Al-Husayni[2] and Abu Jihad[3]... and that is not the end of the list.' I ask Marwan: Does that not mean that it was all to no avail and that the path taken by all these leaders was undoubtedly mistaken?!

"Finally, I call on our leader Marwan Al-Barghouti to consider carefully how he can be released from prison and return to his wife and children before he turns old, if at all, and spend some time with his family, without which life has no meaning. [I say to him:] Leave us, our children, our young people and our mothers alone, for all we want is to enjoy life and not spend it with you in a dark prison. If you and thousands of others have chosen this [life in prison], then may you enjoy your choice. But if you want to leave [prison], think carefully and send another, different message. Let me remind you that your message will coincide with the Jewish festival of Passover and the Christian festival of Easter. You should know that [these] holidays are associated with light, salvation and liberty, and these are things that I wish for you and for all of us."

 


[2] A Palestinian Arab nationalist who founded and commanded a militant group that fought in the Jerusalem area in the 1948 war. He died on April 8, 1948.

[3] Palestinian leader Khalil Ibrahim Al-Wazir, aka Abu Jihad, was a co-founder of Fatah and a top aide of PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, who eventually became the commander of Fatah's military wing. He died on April 16, 1988.

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