Op-Ed: Palestinian Hunger Strikers Have the Power of Choice
Paula R. SternPaula R. Stern is the Founder and Documentation Manager of WritePoint, a technical writing company.
Currently, 1,580 Palestinian prisoners have decided to go on a hunger strike because they want...well, honestly, I don't care what they want and I won't give them this op-ed as a platform. What I will tell you is that of this large amount, only 6 have yet to be charged with crimes.
Of the remaining 1,574 - all were tried and convicted of crimes. One of the hunger strikers is Abdullah Barghouti. It is his fact that appears in the media as one of the poor starving prisoners. I know his name. I know his history and I know he deserves no compassion, no regret.
If Israel had a death penalty, his name would be listed high among those deserving death for what he has done.
Years ago, I was working on a project and was asked to edit a long list of his crimes. It was a project to document what various convicted criminals/terrorists had done. Each article made me angry; each victim named made me sad. Abdullah Barghouti's article made me sick.
By the end of the article, my stomach was in knots and I had to stop for a while. I remember going into my daughter Aliza's room and picking her up and holding her while she slept. I needed her purity after touching the filth that is Abdullah Barghouti's life.
15, not 16, people died that day because whatever he was, that man that chose to murder and maim, he was not a person.
He was convicted and sentenced to 67 life terms for his crimes. He is the one who made the bomb that was hidden in a guitar and taken by a young Arab couple to a lovely pizzeria in Jerusalem on a sunny day in August, 2001. Fifteen people died that day - eight of them children.
Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, the "man" who carried the bomb, died in the explosion. When you hear of this attack, the number of dead varies. Some say 15; some say 16. The difference is the terrorist bomber who chose death.
I will say 15 people died that day because whatever he was, that man that chose to murder and maim, he was not a person.
A woman who was his cover,. Ahlam Tamimi, escorted al-Masri to the pizzeria as a distraction to the soldiers and others. It worked. Her "boyfriend" got the chance to murder while she calmly walked away. She was eventually captured and tried, convicted of murder, sentenced, and recently released as one of the prisoners in the Gilad Shalit deal.
She was asked about the children she murdered – you can watch her smile on YouTube when she finds out the number is eight and not three as she had previously thought.
The man who made the bomb that Tamimi and her murdering f is still in jail. He was convicted and sentenced to 67 life terms for his crimes. Do you really care if he starves himself to death?
Obama and the UN have expressed concern for the health of the hunger strikers. If I were to tell you that Charles Manson was on a hunger strike - would you insist he be released? Would you care? If I told you Timothy Mcveigh, who murdered 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing was on a hunger strike would you expect the UN to step in?
Before you jump on the wagon of sympathy - please know the facts. There are only six out of more than 1,580 prisoners who have not been charged. Each of these six cases is being or has been evaluated by legal authorities.
Two of them - the ones who started this whole nonsense, are leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the court has rejected their demands because they present a clear danger to Israel and Israelis. They are not innocent people leading innocent lives.
If they had the chance, more Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masris and Ahlam Tamimis would walk into more Sbarros and murder more Malki Roths. This is their life's mission and one they are willing to die for.
Each of these 1,580 prisoners has a choice to eat and live or starve himself to death.
That choice, to live or die, is more than they gave their victims.