Israeli analysts say speech by the Palestinian leader reflects his true colors as an ideological denier of Jewish rights in the Land of Israel.
By Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News
Israelis who have closely followed the career of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas were not surprised by the extreme comments included in his speech on Sunday night to the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Central Council meeting in Ramallah. During his rambling two-and-a-half-hour speech, Abbas rejected Jewish ties to the Holy Land, described Israel as a colonial project unconnected to Judaism, and asserted that European Jews chose to die in the Holocaust rather than go to Palestine. The tone was similar to the notorious book written by Abbas in 1982, titled The Other Side: The Secret Relationship between Nazism and Zionism, in which he argues that the Holocaust had been exaggerated and that Zionists created “the myth” of six million murdered Jews.
Yoni Ben Menachem was a young reporter for Israel Television when he became the first Israeli to interview Abbas and PLO leader Yasser Arafat in Tunis in 1993. Ben Menachem told World Israel News (WIN), “Even then Abbas was more extreme than Arafat. I am not surprised to hear these extreme words from a man who wrote a book denying the Holocaust.”
Abbas’ ideology reflected in PA schools
According to Ben Menachem, “Abbas’ ideology has long been reflected in what they are teaching in the schools of the Palestinian Authority. It’s incitement from the leadership.”
“The Palestinians were expecting a speech with a vision in the aftermath of Trump’s declaration about Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Instead they got a twisted history lesson without a message of peace or any solution to the Palestinians problems,” Menachem said. “For months we heard about Abbas’ ‘red lines’ on the core issues of Jerusalem, settlements, water, ’67 borders, and it was obvious that he was not going to compromise on his red lines. He wants no compromise with Israel. He only wants to stand by his red lines. Now that he realizes that he will not get what he wants from Trump, he decided to torpedo everything.”
After Abbas became Palestinian prime minister in 2003, he walked back some claims made in his book, saying, “The “Holocaust was a terrible, unforgivable crime against the Jewish nation, a crime against humanity that cannot be accepted by humankind.” He insisted that he does not deny the Holocaust and that “when I wrote The Other Side…we were at war with Israel. Today I would not have made such remarks.”
Assertions that defy history
Yet some of the claims made in Sunday night’s speech were as hateful and inaccurate as the book itself. Abbas made many assertions that defy history. Some examples: David Ben-Gurion imported Jews from Yemen and Iraq to Israel against their will; Israel is a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism; Israel deliberately started trouble in Arab countries in order to forcibly move Jews from Arab lands and populate the new Jewish state. Throughout the speech Abbas purposely omitted the Jewish historic presence and periods of sovereignty in the Holy Land.
Abbas said that as far as he was concerned, the Oslo Accords , signed in 1993, were no longer valid because Israel had “ended” the landmark agreement through its actions. “There is no Oslo,” and the Central Council meeting must now take decisions on how to move forward, Abbas declared.
Abbas had long been on the record as a supporter of Oslo because the Accords allowed for the Palestinian leaders to leave exile and move to Judea and Samaria, paving the way for the creation of the Palestinian Authority.
Palestinian Affairs expert Dr. Menachem Klein of Bar Ilan University told WIN, “I have never heard Abbas sound this angry. This was a speech to the Palestinian people in which his narrative expresses his disappointment, frustration, and the need to find a new direction for the Palestinian people to realize its goals. He declares clearly, ‘this is our land and we are not giving it up.’”
According to Klein, “This was not an Abbas good-bye speech, but rather an ‘I believe’ speech in which he clearly defines his views.”
A defining moment
Speaking to WIN, Itamar Marcus of Palestine Media Watch emphasized the parts of Abbas’ speech dealing with the Trump administration’s peace efforts. “Essentially, Abbas told the US, ‘we don’t need you anymore’ and that there is no going back. He even accused the US of having been behind the Arab Spring in order to redraw the borders of the Middle East.”
Marcus views Abbas’s speech as a defining moment. “He had been very careful to watch his words, but now he says clearly that we, the Jewish people, have no right to exist in Israel and that we have no history in this land. Now he is saying what his ideology has always been. This is not a going away speech, but rather an uncompromising last stand.”