Marwan Barghouti led a Palestinian paramilitary group through the Second Intifada, rejecting any attempt to reach a peaceful negotiation and decrying Israel as foundationally illegitimate. He will spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of five murders and two attempted murders, from a drive-by shooting to a car bomb.
Now, his son — who calls Barghouti a “freedom fighter” — has come to Stanford, on our dime.
On May 24, Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) invited Barghouti’s son, Aarab. Aarab Barghouti, one of Marwan Barghouti’s four children, has spent most of his life advocating for the release of his father from prison. The talk was supposed to discuss the reasons for the recent hunger strike in Israeli prisons, but Aarab spent much of his time arguing that his father, Marwan, should be released from prison.
Even when pressed in the question and answer session, Barghouti never once mentioned his father’s victims, brushing off the deaths of dozens as a form of legitimate “resistance.”
How was this talk financed? Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine requested $450 to host Barghouti. A supermajority of elected ASSU Senators — everyone bar Chapman Caddell and Gabe Rosen — decided to spend limited student resources to let him come. Their rationale? That this represented free speech.
Of course, any group should have the right to bring anyone whom they like to speak. But nowhere does the First Amendment say people with disgusting, disgraceful opinions and pasts are entitled not only to free speech but also to a pedestal and a Stanford-shaped microphone to shout that hateful speech. If Stanford wants to spend its students’ money on a speaker, they should be sure that speaker is likely to promote reasonable dialogue on campus. Barghouti fails that test spectacularly.
And regardless of who pays for a speaker to come, no student group escapes our right to judgement. SJP has invited a man who openly embraced 9/11 to speak. Now, they welcome with open arms a mass murderer apologist.
Aarab characterized his father as a believer in human rights and as a “freedom fighter” whose goal is grounded in “peace” and the “dignity” of all. In addition to portraying his father as “a peaceful man,” he described him as a “politician,” who “never supported violence against anybody,” and who is being held by the Israeli government as “a political prisoner.” That Barghouti had been convicted in a court of law, under a ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard, was apparently irrelevant.
Ironically, right after Aarab denied his father’s role in these deaths in the orchestration of five murders, he proceeded to contradict himself, stating that he was “against killing civilians, but in resistance, of course we are going to.”
When asked by an audience member to condemn Hamas, Barghouti refused to do so. He declined to denounce condemn the recognized terror group, whose stated goal is not only the destruction of Israel, but also the genocide of all Jews (in accordance with Article 28 of Hamas’ founding Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement). If celebrating killers and terrorists is how SJP wishes to pursue “justice” in Palestine, then the notion that SJP stands for any justice for anybody is an insult to the dignity of all.
SJP claims that they are an organization dedicated to “justice and recognition of universal rights.” Yet, they are apparently willing to associate, repeatedly, with perpetrators and defenders of atrocities. SJP’s welcoming of apologists of terrorism and mass murder to our campus reflects their unending support for violence against people for nothing more than their religious identity.
SJP did not respond to the Review_’s request for comment on this article._