As the director of a proudly Zionist organization, it isn’t often I can say that I agree with the Palestinian Authority’s anti-Semitic, terrorism-sponsoring, Holocaust-denying, opposition-squashing dictator Mahmoud Abbas.
Indeed, his “genocide speech,” as Abbas’s UN speech on erev Rosh Hashanah has come to be known in Israel, was replete with stunning fabrications and age-old libels.
Yet his ultimate assessment of the prospects for future negotiations between the PA and Israel is one I can’t help but embrace. He said, “[I]t is no longer acceptable, nor possible, to repeat methods that have proven futile, or to continue with approaches that have repeatedly failed and require comprehensive review and radical correction.”
He is right. We must make a change.
It is long past time for Israel and its supporters to wake from the 21 year dream of a negotiated peace with Palestinian Arabs. Breaking up is hard to do, but how often can Israel get used and abused and still believe the relationship can work? The PA no longer tries to hide its rejection of a negotiated peace with Israel. Replete with deplorable lies, threats, and an embrace of unilateralism, Abbas’s speech was nothing less than a declaration of diplomatic war on Israel.
Not that we should be surprised. Even with the terrorist group Hamas’s serial attacks and crimes this summer, including public executions that would make their ISIS brethren proud, Abbas maintained his unity coalition, as he emphasized again last week.
So why continue to pretend that Abbas is a moderate? Why continue to reward (and generously fund) Israel’s sworn enemies? We need to close this chapter and readopt our former policy of not negotiating with terrorists – and add a policy of not relabeling terrorists as moderates, just so we can negotiate with them.
In case, as in the past, we were slow to get the message, Abbas made sure to repeat it in various ways.
First, Abbas said that his goal is to “rectify the historic injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people in Al-Nakba of 1948.” In other words, he seeks to “rectify” the founding of Israel altogether. This position has long been reflected in the PA’s actions and words – from its rejectionist charter, to its maps and textbooks showing all of Israel as Arab land, to its outright refusal, sans counter-offer, to accept Israeli offers in 2000 and 2008. Abbas once again let us know that his goal is not Palestinian Arab statehood. He aims to eliminate Jewish Israel.
Second, Abbas publicly discarded the mantle of moderation. Throughout his speech, Abbas justified violence and extremism, “armed resistance” and “the traditions of our national struggle” – i.e., terrorism and military attacks on Israeli civilians. Can we finally face it ? He’s just not that into us – existing.
Finally, Abbas once again embraced his true leadership role, as commander in chief of the diplomatic war against Israel. Time and again he reaffirmed the PA’s embrace of “Big Lie” tactics, with outrageous claims of Israeli aggression, war crimes, apartheid, and genocide. In attempting to achieve a state unilaterally, Palestinian Arabs count on rampant anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism to bolster their efforts. The PA is doubling down on defamation as diplomacy.
Supporters of ongoing “peace” talks consistently excuse this type of repugnant behavior in order stay in the relationship. They advocate ongoing funding of the PA, knowing much foreign aid directly supports terrorism and graft. And they seek to justify Arab violence creatively rather than to put the blame where it belongs. Incredibly, there were Israeli MKs who bemoaned the “delays” the speech would cause, rather than its hateful content. Better to replay the Palestinian Arab narrative of nonsense than face the hard reality, that the ongoing war to destroy Israel is the ideological and tactical goal of the Palestinian Arab leaders.
Refusing to recognize this makes it all the more likely the abuse will continue. We see this with the ever more strident and violent anti-Semitism, spouting the same lies as Abbas, now seen everywhere from European capitals to American college campuses. We cannot defend our interests vigorously while affirming the legitimacy of those who work to destroy us.
Last week, after Prime Minister Netanyahu met President Obama to discuss the dramatic changes and threats in the region, we were witness to the narrowness of thought the blind commitment to the “peace process” can induce. Rather than respond with substance to the larger issues, Obama issued a knee-jerk condemnation of Israel because Jerusalem’s municipal government issued building permits for new apartments. (Never mind that, as Netanyahu correctly responded, it is plainly anti-Semitic to bar Jews from moving to Jerusalem.) Abbas already had announced his abandonment of future negotiations and rededicated his efforts to attack Israel diplomatically and economically. Yet Obama chose to pretend that the show can go on.
Obama’s motives are a subject for separate consideration. But what of the majority of the American pro-Israel community, represented by our major Jewish organizations, who for more than 20 years have supported fruitless rounds of negotiations and endless one-sided compromise, while threats to Jews and Israel only increase? Will they continue to treat the PLO, the PA, Fatah, and Abbas himself as “moderates” and “peace partners,” overlooking their venomous words and evil deeds? Or will they break with the past and set new policies grounded in the truth?
Let’s hope they trust Abbas one last time. Take him at his word. And break with the PA once and for all.