The idea of equating Mandela with Barghouti, serving five life prison terms for planning and implementing suicide bombing attacks, is preposterous to most Israelis. Even left-wing author Amos Oz, who once sent Barghouti an inscribed copy of his own memoir with wishes for peace, told TIME writer Karl Vick, "I don't like the comparison. Mandela never mentioned the right way to put an end to apartheid was to kill civilians, and Barghouti did."
The daring comparison of Barghouti with Mandela is based in large part on the terrorist’s statements calling for “peaceful resistance.” He is undeniably the most popular figure in the Palestinian Authority and easily could be elected as an in absentia replacement for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Barghouti, through an attorney, told Vick, "For more than five years, the Palestinian factions have stopped their armed operations except for self-defense. At this point in time, Palestinians give the priority to political and diplomatic efforts, peaceful resistance and international isolation of Israel to achieve freedom and independence."
Neither Vick nor TIME mentioned several terrorist attacks in the past five years, the most recent being the brutal murders of five members of the Fogel family in Itamar, located in Samaria, and the killing of Ben Yosef Livnat by armed Palestinian Authority soldiers as he was returning from prayers at Joseph’s Tomb (Kever Yosef).
Concerning Barghouti’s violent past, he blames it all on Israel, which he said gave Arabs no other choice but to fight. "It is important to note the first Palestinian intifadeh [sic] followed almost the same approach as the Arab revolutions, but was met by severe Israeli brutality and suppression resulting in the loss of [hundreds] of Palestinian lives,” he told Vick.
Oz implicitly justified Barghouti, telling the American magazine, "There are so many heads of state who were involved in armed struggle before they became heads of state - it's not unusual in history - including some of the leaders of the State of Israel."
Nevertheless, Vick admitted that “comparisons with Arafat are more apt” and noted that “Barghouti's graffito portrait stands beside Arafat's likeness on the most prominent stretch of The Wall, beside the Kalandia checkpoint that separates Ramallah from Jerusalem.”
Barghouti, as Vick added, was a proponent of the Oslo Accords at the same time he was organizing the Tanzim terrorist group that was responsible for murdering, maiming and wounding hundreds of Israelis.
Left-wing leader politician Chaim Oron, a former Knesset Member in the Meretz party, flatly stated to TIME that no Arab leader officially refutes “resistance,” an option he said “is always on the table” and simply leaves open the question whether or not it will be chosen.
Barghouti, behind bars, has no option, but there are more than a few Israeli politicians who are willing to give him the option and free him if Hamas releases kidnapped IDFsoldier Gilad Shalit.