We Should Listen to What Abbas Is Really Saying
Serving his sixth year of a four-year term that expired on January 9, 2009, the unelected president of a people who first came into existence in 1964 appeared before the United Nations and demanded a homeland. Mahmoud Abbas, once again calling himself the President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), invoked a sense of legitimacy that could have made sense only in an organization that gave the world the biggest swindle in the history of humanity -- oil for food.
In an organization where Gaddafi's Libya chaired the Commission on Human Rights, where Saddam Hussein's Iraq headed the Commission on Disarmament, and where Hezbollah's Lebanon sits on the Security Council, Abbas's presence as the voice of the Palestinian people was in keeping with the farce the U.N. has become. As Abbas's grandfatherly image flashed across the TV screen in a Gaza restaurant, the Hamas-run General Investigative Services were busy showing Gaza's inhabitants how much Abbas spoke for them by forcing them to turn off the TV. The restaurant's owner was arrested.
Outside the U.N. office in Ramallah stood the authentic face of Palestine. Latifa Abu Hmeid was chosen to deliver the petition for Palestinian statehood. The mother of seven sons, five of whom are murderers of innocent civilians and four of whom (one is dead) sit in Israeli prisons under life sentences, Hmeid is appropriately the face of the true Palestine. After delivering the petition for Palestinian statehood, Hmeid was publicly honored by the PA for rearing five sons who killed innocent Jews. Hmeid personified Golda Meir's aphorism that peace would come when Palestinian mothers loved their children more than they hated Jews. That time clearly has not arrived.
Abbas, taking a leaf from Jimmy Carter, resurrected the myth that Palestinians disseminate to the world. In Abbas's speech, all the insurmountable problems in the negotiations stem from the presence of the settlements. All the hardships the Palestinians face are the result of the security barrier and the checkpoints.
Yet before there was a single settlement, there was terrorism. Before there was a single settlement, the Arabs meet at Khartoum, in 1967, and announced their position on the Jewish state, a position that should be applauded for its consistency as much as it should be denounced for its folly: no negotiations, no recognition, and no peace. The infamous three "nos" of Khartoum and the inability of the Arabs to accept a Palestinian state as long as it meant the recognition of a Jewish state have unnecessarily condemned three generations of Palestinians to lives of poverty and war.
At Camp David, Yasser Arafat was given over 95% of what he allegedly came to negotiate, and he said no. President Clinton was so enraged by Arafat's lack of sincerity in negotiating that Clinton stormed out of the meeting. Months after Arafat's death, Mahmoud Abbas was made a slightly bolder offer at Taba, and he too said no.
The state that Abbas proposed is one that, like most other Muslim states in the region, would be Judenrein (free of Jews). PA Ambassador to Lebanon Abdullah Abdullah said that even the refugees would not be resettled in Palestine or automatically be given Palestinian citizens. The PA is playing the gambit of getting a state and still seeking to unload three generations of refugees on Israel. The PA wants to keep the refugee issue alive as a means of destroying Israel.
As for the checkpoints and security barrier, Abbas noted the indignities they placed on the Palestinians, but he ignored that the checkpoints and the security barrier were built by terrorism. Terrorism built security responses, and ending terrorism will eliminate them.
Abbas claims that he comes to the U.N. with only the hope and courage of his people. But he also carries Grad missiles, Qassim rockets, and the murders of innocents. Just the other day, a group of stone-throwing Palestinians claimed the life of a twenty-nine-year-old Israeli motorist and his infant son.
Abbas also demands all of so-called "East Jerusalem" for his capital, including the Wailing Wall, the holiest place in Judaism, and even the Jewish Quarter itself. Throughout his speech Abbas championed a national identity that is a mere half-century old and denied a Jewish relationship of three thousand years to the land, one that preceded Islam itself by more than two millennia.
I do not blame Abbas for his grandstanding at the U.N. He will get a lot out of this. Not wanting to exercise a veto in the Security Council, the Obama administration will put enormous pressure on Israel to make further concessions, even those which threaten Israel's security. In addition, despite Abbas's jettisoning of decades of American-shepherded diplomacy, including the Oslo Accords, the Obama administration is pressuring Congress not to cut off aid to the Palestinians, some of which goes to provide monthly stipends to convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons.
If there is anyone to blame for this fiasco, it is successive Israeli governments that, like Neville Chamberlain, sought peace at any price -- even trusting Yasser Arafat, the greatest murder of Jews since Adolph Hitler, after he conspicuously and repeatedly told the world he had no intention of adhering to the Oslo accords. Also to blame are progressive American Jews, who are incapable, in the light of overwhelming evidence, of changing their position that the settlements are the primary obstacle to peace and that all that is needed is to give more concessions to the avowed murders of Jews. There is the immature, naïve, and incompetent Barack Obama, who staked out positions for the Palestinians with regard to Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem that even Arafat never claimed. Obama emboldened Abbas to think he could make demands that were far outside the norms of previous discussions.
Abbas has torn up Oslo. Israel should follow his example. It is far better to face an intractable enemy from the vantage point of strategic depth and the high ground of the Judean hills than it is from a narrow isthmus of strategic vulnerability. Israel's original boundaries -- the Auschwitz borders -- were conceived by the British to enable them to withdraw and make the Jews vulnerable to the Arabs, who intended to push them into the sea. Remember, on the vote for partition, Britain abstained and did not even recognize the Jewish state until it had beaten back the Arab armies.
Abbas, like Arafat before him, has revealed his true intentions -- though they have long been well-known in the Arab world. As the PA Representative to Lebanon Abbas Zaki noted two years ago, the peace process is simply a different route to destroy the Jewish state. Jewish-American progressives and the Israeli left will still adhere to their mantra of making concessions to murderers as the way to peace. But those who understand that Abbas has no intention of creating a viable and lasting peace will see that as Arafat said immediately after Oslo, the only peace Israel will get is the Hudaibia with the Meccans: the faux peace Mohammed created to build up his forces to enable him to ultimately triumph over his enemies.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science who specializes in the study of violence in politics.