Abbas gins up anti-Israel incitement about Jerusalem to foment a third intifada
Mahmoud Abbas, having abandoned any semblance of adherence to the peace process, is now ramping up some of the most vicious incitement against Israel in a deliberate strategy to generate a third intifada.
In his most provocative statements yet, Abbas gave a keynote address to an Arab gathering in Doha during which he claimed that Israel is out to erase any vestige of Arab-Islamic and Christian presence in East Jerusalem. Specifically, he charged that Israel has plans to build a Jewish Temple on the ruins of A-Aqsa Mosque and denied any Jewish history in Jerusalem. In a similar vein, he accused Israel of pursuing a strategy of "ethnic cleansing" to whittle down the Arab population, while Judaizing Israel's capital.
All these charges, of course, are a tissue of lies but they're very dangerous lies, apt to arouse another intifada. We've seen in recent days how the Muslim "street" can easily be prodded to resort to massive, deadly violence.
Abbas' speech, in this regard, was a bundle of toxic lies. There already have been several Arab rock-throwing riots in recent days in the heart of Jerusalem.
Far from threatening Al-Aqsa Mosque or the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Israel has been a diligent custodian of all holy places - Christian, Muslim and Jewish - in Jerusalem. Al-Aqsa Mosque is absolutely in no danger of being harmed, Just the opposite: It is vestiges of the First and Second Jewish Temples atop Temple Mount that have been systematically erased by the Muslim Wafq, which administers this site.
Also, with regard to Abbas' "ethnic cleansing" charge - Israel supposedly reducing the Arab population to make room for more Jews in Jerusalem - the city's demographic history gives the lie to any such notion. For more than 40 years, the trend has gone the other way. Since Israel unified both parts of Jerusalem, the Arab population actually has increased faster than the Jewish population. There are more Arabs today than ever before. The Arab population has grown in both absolute and proportional terms. The latest population counts show Arabs now comprise more than 35 percent of Jerusalem's population and demographic trends indicate that Arabs will easily expand to 40 percent by 2020 and reach parity with Jews before mid-century. Some ethnic cleansing!
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to issue a scathing rebuttal to Abbas's phony charges, calling them "defamatory, contemptible, baseless and irresponsible."
"This is not how one makes peace," the prime minister remarked.
Netanyahu accused Abbas of denying Jerusalem's Jewish past and distorting reality. Under Israeli control, he noted, there is freedom of worship for all religions.
Since Abbas has postured as a champion of peace, Netanyahu added, one might expect him instead to "prepare his people for peace and co-existence and not disseminate lies and incitement."
With Abbas racheting up vicious anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement, it will be interesting to see whether mainstream media, which are in the habit of covering up such outrageous provocations, finally will show their readers and viewers the real Mahmoud Abbas.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers