When Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas described Israel as a “colonialist project that is not connected to Judaism” — as he did in a speech last week that was littered with anti-Semitic overtones — the natural reaction from the pro-Israel community was to condemn the lies and defend the truth.
Abbas’ libelous speech, in fact, was condemned across the political spectrum. Even J Street released a statement saying there was “no excuse for calling into question either the Jewish connection to, or Palestinian recognition of, the state of Israel — or for language and proposals that are justifiably earning widespread condemnation.”
Moderate commentator Ben-Dror Yemini on Ynetnews characterized the speech as “More hallucinations. More illusions. More rejectionism” — adding that Abbas’ real problem is not with the creation of Israel in 1948 or the expansion of the state after 1967 but the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that first supported the Jews’ right to a national home.
The reason Abbas is obsessed with the 1917 recognition of Jewish sovereign rights is that it undermines his faux narrative that Israel is a colonialist state rooted in European guilt after the Holocaust. As long as he can position the Jewish state as an artificial project that punished Palestinian Arabs, he can claim the mantle of victimhood and continue his diplomatic war against the legitimacy of Israel.
This addiction to victimhood is also crucial to his retention of power. Put yourself in Abbas’ shoes. His people live in misery while, next door, the hated Jewish state thrives. Doubling down on victimhood means he can blame every Palestinian hardship on Israel.
It also justifies saying no to every peace proposal, as Palestinian leaders have done for decades. After all, if Israel is the result of Jews stealing Arab land, what is there to negotiate? There is only one thing a thief must do, and that is return the stolen goods in full — and maybe even throw in a penalty for emotional damages.
If Palestinian leaders ever conceded the 3,000-year Jewish connection to the Holy Land, it would explode the edifice of lies they have told their people. It would force them to acknowledge that Jews also have sovereign rights, which would force them to accept compromises. It would mean they’d have to admit that their problem with Israel is not with the settlements that came after 1967 but the settlements that came after 1917. It would mean they’d have to accept at least some responsibility for the miserable state of their failed society.
Even for those who tend to blame Israel for the absence of peace, it’s hard to deny the fundamental obstacle of one party completely denying the legitimacy of the other.
The minute Abbas himself concedes the legitimacy of the Jewish state, an avalanche of pressure would descend upon him. All of a sudden, he would have to look at the hated Zionist state as a partner rather than a thief and start caring for the welfare of his people. All of a sudden, he’d have to actually produce results.
Compare that to the status quo. By sticking to his narrative of exclusive victimhood at the expense of Jewish oppression, Abbas is celebrated around the world. He continues to cash in on “humanitarian” aid that fills his coffers and that of his cronies; he continues his diplomatic and legal war against Israel at the United Nations and international criminal courts; and, above all, he’s off the hook to make any compromises for peace.
For a corrupt liar who has contempt for Zionism, this status quo is, well, heaven on earth.
There is, of course, one complication in this whole picture — the Palestinian people. The day they realize they have been lied to for so long by their own leaders is the day those leaders will abandon their villas in Ramallah and hop on their private jets to any country that will take them.
That day may come sooner than they think.
According to a poll conducted in the summer of 2016 by the reputable Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and published in Al Monitor, 65 percent of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip want Abbas to resign.
Among the reasons cited, journalist Ahmed Labed from Gaza City told Al Monitor: “President Abbas, who has been in power for 11 years, has been illegitimately occupying the presidential office. His mandate expired in January 2009. Moreover, throughout the period of his presidency, Abbas hasn’t accomplished any noteworthy achievement for the Palestinians.”
His major “accomplishment” has been to malign and undermine the Jewish state and instill hatred in his people for their Jewish neighbors, all while pretending to be a “moderate” to the world.
Even for those who tend to blame Israel for the absence of peace, it’s hard to deny the fundamental obstacle of one party completely denying the legitimacy of the other, especially when that party has an interest in maintaining that lie.
Israel has made its share of mistakes. Its biggest, perhaps, is that it never had a long-term strategy for handling the territories captured in 1967, especially in Judea and Samaria. This has allowed Palestinian leaders to place all the blame for the absence of peace on the growth of Jewish communities in these territories.
Never mind that Palestinian leaders have rejected every peace offer made by Israel without ever making a counteroffer. As bad as those rejections have been for Israel, they’ve been even worse for the Palestinians.