When Mustafa Barghouti (pictured left) arrived at the Temple Mount on Friday, ostensibly to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Palestinian presidential candidate was instead turned away by Israeli police in front of dozens of journalists. How did the press know where and when Barghouti would arrive? Donald Macintyre of The Independent explains how Barghouti cynically orchestrated the event for the media:
If you are an opposition Palestinian presidential candidate, being manhandled by three plainclothes Israeli policemen into an unmarked white pick-up as you attempt to attend Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as Mr Barghouti was yesterday, is the stuff of television pictures money can’t buy.
Mr Barghouti, a 50-year-old academic, former communist and human-rights activist, may not be quite as charismatic as his very distant imprisoned relative Marwan, the missing candidate in the campaign which culminates in the election of a new Palestinian president tomorrow. But he knows a lot about how to use the media in a modern political campaign.
We were therefore told in plenty of time that Mr Barghouti would make his way down from the Mount of Olives to the Lion’s Gate to the Old City; so of course we were there in time to hear the Israeli policemen ask for orders on his walkie-talkie….
Fortunately for Barghouti, BBC reporter Martin Asser was more gullible.