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Arafat’s Deputy

by Mitchell Finkel

Some of Abbas’s more memorable malefactions.

The easiest way to rewrite history is to forge a new identity for some of history’s most notorious malefactors. For Mahmoud Abbas, a new identity just might wash away a lifetime of demagoguery and duplicity.

Understandably, there is a need for a Palestinian leader who can sing with the angels and talk Jabberwocky to the foreign policy elites. Indeed, the entire structure of the proposed two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict hangs on such a leader – a leader who can undo the past and banish disbelief from the minds of the Israeli electorate. But given
For a supposed “moderate,” Abbas seems to be well connected to the Middle East terror network.
Mahmoud Abbas’ long and illicit association with the Ministries of Terror throughout the Middle East, Abbas remains an improbable choice for an impossible assignment.

A brief review of some of Abbas’s more memorable malefactions should give us a better sense of the man. Suppose we begin with his doctoral dissertation (Patrice Lumumba University, Moscow, 1982).

The entire dissertation reads more like an ideologically driven diatribe than a serious attempt at scholarship. The central argument of his thesis is that the Zionists pushed the number of innocents that were devoured by the Holocaust well beyond the limits of plausibility. More than that, his dissertation asserts that the Zionists openly and flagrantly colluded with the Nazis throughout the 1930s and ’40s. Mahmoud Abbas has never retracted any of these monstrous allegations.

In an interview with the Arab-Israeli daily Kul Al-Arab (August 25, 2000), Abbas said, “They claim that they had a Temple here 2,000 years ago. I challenge that claim.” Again, Abbas has never retracted that statement.

Fatah, the dominant political party in the West Bank, was co-founded in 1959 by its current chairman, Mahmoud Abbas. Fatah may not have a state, but it does have a Charter and its Charter clearly particularizes the rights and obligations of its denizens. Jihad, for example, is defined as a sacred right and the eradication of the Jewish State, a solemn obligation. The Charter has never been revoked.

For a supposed “moderate,” Abbas seems to be well connected to the Middle East terror network. A day after Saddam Hussein sought his final absolution in a hangman’s noose, a wistful Abbas let some of his pent-up sympathies for the tyrant from Tikrit bubble up. According to Abbas, “Saddam Hussein entered history as a symbol of Pan-Arab nationalism.” (Palestine Radio and Television, December 31, 2006)

According to the Palestinian daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Mahmoud Abbas sent the following salutation to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “On behalf of the Palestinian people, I wish to extend our warmest and most heartfelt best wishes. As you memorialize the Glorious Victory of the Great Islamic Revolution, we pray that Allah will grant you and your people continued progress and prosperity.”

In a moment of candor, Abbas and Khaled Mashaal both agreed that “there are no differences over our objectives.” Mashaal is headquartered in Damascus and is Hamas’s chief military and political strategist.

Then there is this: At the Aqaba Summit (June 3, 2003), the United States delegation urged Abbas to recognize the Jewishness of the Jewish State. Abbas refused.

In the throes of the Second Lebanon War, a jubilant Mahmoud Abbas began to believe that the doggedness exhibited by Hizbullah had established a new paradigm in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Hizbullah, Abbas asserted, “has become a source of pride and has set an example for Arab resistance.” (Jerusalem Post, September 6, 2006) But Hizbullah is not the only source of pride for Abbas. There are the Brigades.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are, by all counts, the most virulent faction within Fatah’s hierarchy. As if to underscore the obvious, in May of 2002 the State Department concluded that the Brigades were indeed a terrorist organization. Writing in the Wall Street Journal (June 20, 2007), Michael Oren noted that Abbas has “never disavowed the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.” Commenting on the steady stream of promises to end the
Abbas and Khaled Mashaal both agreed that “there are no differences over our objectives.”
ongoing reign of terror, Avi Dichter, Israel’s Minister of Public Security, reminded us that “for the past seven years, the Palestinian Authority hasn’t lifted a finger to stop terrorism.” (Haaretz, October 2, 2007)

Evidently, Abbas is as adept at making promises as he is in breaking them. Another example should make the point. This past summer, two congressional delegations meet with Abbas. Abbas was quite emphatic. The rift between Fatah and Hamas, they were told, was beyond repair. A week or so later, Abbas meet with the visiting Japanese Foreign Minister, Taro Aso. Without a twinge of self-consciousness, Abbas told the Foreign Minister that “the split with Hamas is temporary and will be removed.”

So, what are we to make of all this? Hani Al-Hasan, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, has given us a rare insight into the thinking of Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority. On one hand, the Authority is prepared to let the “armed struggle do the sowing,” and on the other hand, there is the expectation that “the political struggle will do the reaping.”

In an interview carried by Agence France-Presse (November 11, 2005), Abbas vowed to “continue on the path of our late president (Yasser Arafat) until we fulfill all of his dreams.” In another interview, with Italy’s most evocative journalist, Oriana Fallacci asked Arafat, “Are you interested in peace”?

“No!” bristled Arafat. “We don’t want peace. We want war, victory. Peace for us means the destruction of Israel.”

Just yesterday, or so it seems, Abbas was Arafat’s faithful deputy . And today? Today, Abbas is hailed as a moderate, an emissary of peace. That synthetic conversion will probably be remembered as the greatest hoax of our time.

Let me leave you with the following cautionary note: “Woe unto them that speak of evil as good, and good as evil.” (Isaiah, 5:2)

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