OpinionIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

The serial killer who might be the first president of Palestine

Marwan Barghouti is serving five consecutive sentences of life imprisonment.

Palestinian children look at the image of former PLO chief Yasser Arafat and the imprisoned Marwan Barghouti during a demonstration in the southern Gaza Strip calling for the release of prisoners held in Israeli jails, Oct. 6, 2011. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Palestinian children look at the image of former PLO chief Yasser Arafat and the imprisoned Marwan Barghouti during a demonstration in the southern Gaza Strip calling for the release of prisoners held in Israeli jails, Oct. 6, 2011. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Moshe Phillips
Moshe Phillips is a commentator on Jewish affairs whose writings appear regularly in the American and Israeli press.  

A Greek Orthodox priest named Georgios Tsibouktzakis was murdered for the crime of driving while mistakenly being perceived as Jewish. And now his killer is being widely touted as the likely first president of “Palestine.”

In recent weeks, pundits in The New York Times, The Guardian and other news outlets have promoted Marwan Barghouti as the best candidate to replace Mahmoud Abbas as head of the Palestinian Authority and then become the first president of the “Palestine” that they hope to establish.

Incredibly, many of these Barghouti enthusiasts make no mention at all of the innocent people he was convicted of murdering. That’s like murdering them twice. Here’s some information on one of Barghouti’s victims.


Georgios Tsibouktzakis was born and raised in the picturesque northern Greek town of Evosmos, a name that means “pleasant scent.” Among its notable sites is the Agios Athanasios Church, which is more than 200 years old.

The Tsibouktzakis family must have been impoverished because upon completing primary school, at age 12, Georgios set aside his studies and found a job in a local fabric factory.

At some point, young Georgios experienced a religious awakening. He adopted an extremely humble lifestyle, giving away his belongings, including his most precious possession—his bicycle—and entering a Greek Orthodox religious order.

After studying at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Georgios decided to go to Israel. And why not? Christianity was born in the Land of Israel. The Christian Bible is filled with references to Judea (although there is no mention of “Palestine,” for some reason). As a devout man of faith, he wanted to spend the rest of his life in the Holy Land.

In 1990, Georgios arrived in Israel and resumed his religious studies at a local Greek Orthodox seminary. After three years, he became a monk and was given the name Father Germanos. Eventually, he was ordained a priest and deacon. He was assigned to live at St. George’s Monastery.

A word about St. George’s. Despite the frequent lies by Arab propagandists and their supporters about Israel supposedly mistreating Christians, in fact, the country is home to numerous monasteries such as St. George’s, which all operate as freely as any Jewish religious institution. St. George’s is located on a prime piece of real estate just 12 miles outside of Jerusalem.

For many years, Father Germanos was the only resident of the monastery. He spent his days in prayer and study. When necessary, he would drive to nearby Jerusalem to run errands. It was a humble and peaceful existence. Until June 22, 2001.

On that evening, the priest was driving back from Jerusalem to St. George’s. A Palestinian Arab terrorist with a sniper’s rifle was hiding above the highway near the exit for the Jewish community of Ma’ale Adumim.

As Father Germanos’s car came into view, the terrorist saw his yellow Israeli license plates. So he opened fire. Because if you have Israeli plates, you’re probably Jewish, and if you’re Jewish, you deserve to be murdered. Thus, the clergyman’s life was taken at the age of 34.

Israel’s security services learned from their sources that the attack had been planned and carried out by Force 17, a terrorist unit of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah Party movement that was commanded by longtime “intifada” leader Marwan Barghouti. That information was confirmed by the apprehended shooter, a 22-year-old Fatah member Hassin Radeida.

Barghouti was arrested and indicted as the mastermind of the murder of Father Germanos, as well as a string of other murders. Barghouti had the opportunity to contest the charges and prove his innocence. But he refused to deny culpability and declared that the “Zionist” court had no right to prosecute him.

Of course not—since, in Barghouti’s view, murdering Jews is right and proper, then prosecuting anybody for murdering them is wrong and improper.

On May 20, 2004, Barghouti was convicted of the murders of Father Germanos and four other innocent people. He is serving five consecutive sentences of life imprisonment.

The various news columnists and others who have been building up Barghouti in recent weeks say that he is the only figure in the Palestinian Arab world who is popular enough to serve as head of the P.A., and then as the president of “Palestine.”

If that’s true, what does that tell us about Palestinian Arab society? Their single most popular political person is a serial killer. How sad that supporters of the Palestinian cause have decided to champion such a monster, while Father Germanos and the murderer’s other victims lie in their graves, forgotten and abandoned.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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