People with little knowledge of the Palestine-Israel situation often sigh before uttering the following sentence: “If only the Palestinians had their Nelson Mandela”.
The similarities between Barghouti and Mandela are astonishing. Both were jailed by white supremacist states (Mandela is on record as labelling Israel as an apartheid regime). Both used military means to fight against the repression their people faced. Both were accused of targetting civilians, and both denied it.
Despite their incarceration, both were hugely influential over their people. Barghouti is touted as a potential president of Palestine – even from inside his prison cell.
If the parallels are to be continued, Barghouti will be released from prison (his name keeps coming up in stories about prisoner exchanges). After the fall of the Jews-only state, he will lead the united state of Israel-Palestine in the country’s first universal elections (covering Israel, the West Bank and Gaza). And become the unified state’s first post-apartheid president.
He will then preside over a general amnesty for Jews who repressed non-Jews through peace and reconciliation hearings, which will reveal the truth of those dark years, but will not seek to blame.
What’s more, Barghouti – the secular leader – is admired even by Hamas. Marwan Barghouti is Palestine’s greatest hope.