Wednesday, October 01, 2003

More memorable Barghouti from his Israeli trial: "Speaking in near-perfect Hebrew, Palestinian uprising leader Marwan Barghouthi closed his trial in Israel on murder charges on Monday with a demand for independence for his people as the price of peace.

"``We are a people like all other people. We want freedom and a state just like the Israelis,'' said Barghouthi... ``Israel must decide: either it allows for a state alongside it, or it becomes a state for two peoples,'' he said in an hour-long closing argument in the language he learned in jail.

"In keeping with his insistence Israel has no right to try him, he dismissed the prosecution's case on Monday. Instead, Barghouthi took the stand in the familiar role of tribune for a people aggrieved by 1993 accords that failed to yield a state.

"``We are not historians nor government representatives,'' chided Sarah Sirotta, head of the three-judge panel in Tel Aviv court, halfway through Barghouthi's hour-long statement. ``If it were in our hands we would issue an injunction ordering peace!''

"To cheers from European Parliament observers in the gallery, Barghouthi exhorted her with a smile: ``Why don't you just get up and say 'I am against the occupation'?''"

There can't have been anything quite like this Barghouti trial since Mandela's trial in the 60s, although I wouldnt say at this stage it is the equal of Mandela's incredible speech. I've yet to see a full transcript of Barghouti's address. This New York Times report includes what has already seemed to have become an iconic photograph: Barghouti, surrounded by court security, proudly raising his handcuffs hands to give the V sign.

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