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Commentary :: International : Politics
candidate for palestine presidency
29 Nov 2004
{editor note- please do not post in all caps!]

Organize support and international solidarity for the independent campaign of Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi as the next president of Palestine.
Marwan Barghouti, the imprisoned likely successor to Abu Ammar among the Palestinians and by far the most popular single leader on the Palestinian street, has decided not to enter the upcoming Palestinian elections for president on January 9, 2005. Under huge pressure, he has reluctantly called for Palestinians to close ranks and fall in behind the candidate of the PLO old guard, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), a figure many Palestinians regard as the "pampered puppet of the Americans."

There is one man -- a declared independent and radical democrat among those vying for leadership of the Palestinian national liberation movement after the passing of Abu Ammar -- who deserves the solidarity of the international left. That is Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi. His campaign should be given broad support in the Palestinian cities, villages and camps under the suffocation of the Occupation, and by progressives across the globe.

Mustafa is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative (Al Mudabara), founded in June 2002 together with the late Edward Said, Dr. Haidar Abdul Shafi and other key Palestinians. A noted physician, he is head of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, and director of HDIP, the Health, Development Information and Policy Institute based in Ramallah, a grassroots formation bringing together over 90 Palestinian NGOs. Their online journal is The Palestine Monitor.

Mustafa Barghouthi has been an outspoken critic of Arafat and the PLO old guard for years. In his campaign, he will attempt to appeal to the great silent majority of younger Palestinians weary of the PLO and unwilling to support Hamas – part of the "third front" Al Mudabara seeks to open. Importantly, Mustafa has called for popular mass non-violent struggle. The PNI has been in the forefront of non-violent direct action against the Apartheid Wall. His work for a Palestinian civil society and a radically democratic independent state deserves the solidarity of the entire international left. Significantly, when Edward Said passed last year, it was his close friend Mustafa who was asked by the international and anti-authoritarian left to offer a eulogy [1].

Mustafa understands that Sharon and his cabal are determined to destroy any basis for a viable Palestinian political future. The pullout from Gaza and its enclavization are part of that broader push to fragment and demoralize the Palestinians -- their territorial dismemberment integral to the overriding Israeli state policy of de-Palestinization of Palestine.

As he has stressed: "Israel's strategy in its campaign against the Palestinian people is to generate such a profound state of fragmentation as to sap their ability to sustain their struggle and create independent national institutions. This strategy extends beyond the geographic-demographic domain to threaten all social, economic and political aspects of Palestinian life" [2].

At this crucial juncture, the international left must call for the freedom of Marwan Barghouti and other Palestinian political prisoners. It should provide support and solidarity for the just launched presidential campaign of Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi and the ongoing work of his organizations, in particular Al Mudabara / the Palestinian National Initiative [3].

1. See "A Tribute to Edward Said," http://www.counterpunch.org/barghouthi09252003.html
It was also in ZNet and Interactivist Info Exchange.

2. Mustafa Barghouthi, "Against Fragmentation," http://www.mediamonitors.net/mustaphab15.html

3. For information on the PNI, see http://www.almubadara.org For links to some of his articles, http://www.palestinemonitor.org/archives/Article_archives_04.htm Note in particular the March 2004 interview at http://www.palestinemonitor.org/mustafa/hope_out_of_ramallah.htm. See also his recent statement "After Arafat II: In Palestine Democracy is a Security Issue," International Herald Tribune, 24 Nov. 2004, www.iht.com/articles/2004/11/23/opinion/edbarghouthi.html

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