You are here:   Reputations >  Overrated > Overrated: Mahmoud Abbas

 Illustration by David Smith

Mahmoud Abbas is the man who Britain, America and Europe think deserves to be the president of an independent state of Palestine — the establishment of which, they tell themselves, would end the Middle East impasse. 

To Western eyes Abbas, the Fatah-backed President of the Palestinian Authority, is a moderate. It is, however, simply astounding that he should be viewed in this way. It is even more astounding that Western liberals should endorse him and give him a free pass for his behaviour.

Both he and the Palestinian establishment he controls repeatedly say they will never accept Israel as a Jewish state. So his aim remains the destruction of Israel. He and his people repeatedly say that not one Jew would be allowed to live in Palestine. Such a state would therefore be a racist entity ethnically cleansed of Jews. 

Abbas has gone even further in making plain that his bigotry is directed not just at Israel. Considering the possibility that Nato forces might be brought in to police a settlement, Abbas declared: "I will not accept the presence of Jews in these forces."

Such bigotry is hardly surprising given that he earned the Soviet equivalent of a PhD in Moscow for a dissertation published in Arabic entitled "The Other Side: the Secret Relations between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement" in which he claimed that the Holocaust didn't happen. 

He declared that the gas chambers were never used to murder Jews, and that at most 890,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis. This happened, he claimed, in part because the Zionists led a campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule in order to fuel their exterminationand so bring about the victory of Zionism.

Not only does Abbas thus odiously deny the Holocaust, but he and his cronies also repeatedly deny the history of the Jewish people in their false claim that the Palestinians, rather than the Jews, were the authentic inhabitants of the land.

Despite mouthing platitudes in English about the aim of two states living side by side, when speaking in Arabic Abbas and Co deny Israel's right to exist at all. 

Although the Jews are the only people for whom Israel was ever their nation-state, the PA-controlled paper Al-Hayat al-Jadida stated earlier this year: "The Zionists must acknowledge publicly, in front of the world, that the Jews have no connection to the Palestinian Arab land." And last May (in a speech read by an adviser), Abbas scorned as a mere Israeli claim the 3,000-year old historical presence of the Jews in the Land of Israel-and asserted an entirely fictitious 9,000-year-old Palestinian presence dating back to 7000 BCE. Despite the fact that no such people as the Palestinians then existed, Abbas declared that this made them "the owners of history".

Abbas may look like a mild-mannered businessman but in fact he is steeped in terrorism. He has boasted of dispatching "fighters" to murder Israeli civilians during the terrorist intifada of 2000-05. And today he persists in glorifying the murder of Israeli innocents and showering honours upon their killers. 

Once again, he speaks out of both sides of his mouth in English and Arabic. In a recent interview with Israeli TV, he condemned the Palestinians' naming of a square after Dalal Mughrabi, the terrorist who perpetrated an atrocity in 1978 when nearly 40 Israeli civilians were burned alive in a hijacked bus.

However, when speaking to Palestinians in 2010, Abbas said: "Of course we want to name a square after her...We carried out a military action. Can I then later renounce all that we have done?"

Under Abbas, the PA regularly glorifies terrorists and turns them into role models. After the death of Amin al Hindi, a senior planner of the massacre of Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics, Abbas personally attended the official red-carpet military funeral provided for him by the PA. 

He described another of the Munich terrorists, Muhammad Daoud Oudeh, as "a wonderful brother, companion, tough and stubborn, relentless fighter". And he does nothing to end the incitement to hatred and murder of Jews and Israelis promulgated in the educational materials, sermons and media under his control. 

This is not the behaviour of a moderate. This is a man who should be in a courtroom being prosecuted for mass murder. Yet this is the man to whom the West declares that Israel must make concessions so that he can plant a state of his own on its border, which the people around him make clear will be used as a springboard from which to destroy Israel.

The fact that Abbas has made no concessions is ignored. The fact that he demands an end to settlement building but nevertheless refused to negotiate while such building was frozen is ignored. The fact that he is a Jew-hater committed to ethnic cleansing and the destruction of a country is ignored. 

The West gives Abbas a free pass because they think there is no alternative solution to the one he proposes. But, appallingly, the solution that he represents risks being a final one.

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November 25th, 2011
11:11 AM
Darkman, If I'd wanted a litany of myths, fictions, and factoids, I'd have gone straight to the MFA's website, or the Virtual Jewish Library, or Palestine Facts, or any of the vast number of such propagandists. But, thank you anyway.

November 19th, 2011
1:11 AM
Hazlitt, you seem to reason under moral relativism's "everyone's to blame" equation. I cannot accept this in light of recent history, namely the original 1947 Partition Plan, which the Jews accepted & the Arabs rejected, 1967's Khartoum Conference, in which an offer of land for peace was rejected by the Arab League, Arafat's walking away from Camp David in 2000, etc., etc. Does there ever come a time when the Arabs' consistent intransigence disqualifies them from further claims? According to you, I merely "say" that Hamas seeks the destruction of Israel. Have you read their covenant? Have you seen their media & clerical rhetoric? HOW CAN YOU BE IN SUCH A STATE OF COGNITIVE-DISSONANCE? And yes, even if a Palestinian state were ever conceived, it wouldn't signal the end of conflict, as attested to by Arafat & numerous Fatah & Hamas figures. The goalposts would simply be moved further as new claims arose, engendering more pressure on Israel from the "world community" to relinquish ever more territory. Just look at the example of Hezbollah. For years they insisted their raison d'etre was to remove IDF presence from Lebanon. Fair enough. Then after Israel did finally leave Lebanon entirely, Hezbollah changed its stated goal to a new one of "liberating" the Holy Land. Israel did what the world wanted, but did it lead to peace on that border? Did it lead Hezbollah to moderate now that its stated aim had been achieved? No, it lead to yet another war. You say that if the new nation of Palestine did attack Israel, she would have "free reign" to defend herself. This is ridiculous in light of recent events. You know very well that Israel is held to a different standard & even when attacked by Gazan rockets or Hezbollah missiles, the world's response is consistently "yes, Israel, but...." followed by much hand-wringing over Israel's use of "disproportionate force" (a term seemingly applied only to the Zionist entity). Israel's strength, ironically, will always put it in a weaker position vis-a-vis the world, as any Palestinian provocations will be discounted on account of their minimal military means. So, no, Israel will not get any breaks even if there was an independent Palestine. Regarding the "absurd propaganda," as you rightfully term it, it's a mistake to downplay it as being employed by "some" Palestinians. If you paid any attention to what comes out of media, clergy & educational systems in the wider Arab world, you'd know that this propaganda is widespread, mainstream & officially sanctioned by the PA itself. And contrary to being "irrelevant" to the conflct now, I contend that it's very much the reason for the continuation of it. After all, where is the impetus on the Arab side to make peace, let alone compromise, with "aliens" who don't even belong there. The West & sadly, Israel itself, have not shed enough light on this. Also, your dismissal of "ancient history" shows a complete lack of understanding of the ages-old bond of the Jewish people to that land. Even secular Israelis would acknowledge this. The Zionists' legitimacy has absolutely nothing to do with post-WW1 political decisions, not least being the fact that the concept of Zionism predates that conflict. Forget "legal bearings," you can't ignore the historical fact that there was an Israel in existence there over a thousand years before the Arab conquest. The Arab world certainly has not forgotten history (except of course where Israel is concerned!), & it's wrong for you to consider Israel solely within a modern context, because by doing so you aid the revisionism, aka blatant lie, which seeks to un-couple an ancient people from any link to their ancient homeland. And again, I stress, the revisionism you discount are not the utterances of a marginal few, but an ongoing, thorough & widespread inculcation over successive generations. It is their mainstream discourse, as much as you might not want to believe it. Arafat himself denied to Bill Clinton that Jerusalem was ever a "Jewish" city or that there ever was a Temple there, IN COMPLETE DISREGARD OF HISTORICAL & ARCHEOLOGICAL FACT. And as for "oppressing" the Palestinians (ignoring the fact that they never existed as a distinct, sovereign nationality prior to 1967), this situation could've been averted completely, & solved on numerous occasions, but for the fact that the Arabs would rather have no Palestine rather than some Palestine, because again, the Jewish nation has no right to exist as an independent body in the midst of the Arab/Islamic Middle East. For you to dismiss this is to follow the same old rotten false premise that's driven Western policy-makers for decades, namely that if Israel gives up X, Y & Z, peace will break out tomorrow. If you know anything at all about the Arab/Islamic mindset, they don't consider just the West Bank & Gaza "occupied," they consider EVERY INCH of Israel to be "occupied." Which is why the establishment of a Palestinian state does not mean the end of the conflict. Israel pulled out of Lebanon & got another war, pulled out of Gaza & got another war, gave Arafat land, guns & money & got another war. Even the much-lauded Egyptian revolution has produced what? Calls for a "re-examination" of the peace treaty with Israel. Great.... I don't have a magic solution, but a Palestinian state will not end the conflict. The Arabs look at things over an extended period of time & the establishment of Palestine is but a stepping stone to the end game of eliminating Jewish sovereignty in Israel. You might think this irrational in light of Israel's current military might, but death by a thousand cuts over time is death nonetheless. As for Oslo, I was opposed to it (surprise, surprise), insofar as it meant bringing Arafat back from the dead. Trying to be even-handed & looking at the conflict in modern, equal-claim terms, I was sorely disappointed at the PA for not doing a damn thing to prepare their people for eventual re-conciliation. Israel had a Peace Now movement, holding rallies that attracted tens of thousands. Where was that reciprocated on the other side? It wasn't & those advocating rapprochement internally, away from Western ears, were hung as "conspirators." And this was after the IDF pulled out & gave the PA de-facto, fledging autonomy over themselves. Frankly, the "Palestinians" have abrogated their claim to sovereign nation status many times over, through their maximalist stance & unceasing, officially-sanctioned incitement against Jews in particular & Israel in general....all of which was in full force well before there ever was an "occupation," so you can't blame it on that, either.

November 18th, 2011
1:11 PM
Darkman, How can you tell a politician is lying? His lips are moving. The US is currently most adept (taking over from Britain as "top Nation"). Israel is no slouch. But they're all at it, not just one particular sub-species. Fatah and Hamas, you say, seek the destruction of Israel (whatever that might mean precisely). If Israel made peace, you say, and allowed the establishment of a Palestinian state, Fatah and Hamas would still seek the destruction of Israel. Would Israel be worse off? No. It would remain one of the most formidable military powers in the world. Indeed, it would have free rein to retaliate if attacked - it would no longer be brutalising a population under occupation, but defending itself against a sovereign state, and all the laws of self-defence would be on its side. Would Israel be better off? Possibly - it may be that the bulk of the Palestinians prefer peace to justice, and would have a stake in marginalising terrorists or freedom fighters. You refer to absurd propaganda about ancient times some Palestinians use to counter the Zionist version of history. It is irrelevant to the question of a resolution of the conflict now. I was brought up a Presbyterian. I have strong sympathy for Judaism's strong ties to its place of origin and ultimate fulfilment. This has nothing to do with a sovereign state of Israel. Ancient history has no hold on those who do not share the religion or a sympathy with the religion. It has no legal bearing. The Zionist settlers had rights in Palestine, I think, because of the decisions of the Great Powers after WW1 (however outrageous that might now appear). Israelis have rights now because their state is a state like any other. This gives Israel no right to oppress Palestinians, who also have rights in Palestine (even if some of it is now overlayed by Israel, however that came about). Israel can try to accommodate Palestinian rights or it can continue to try to confine them in ghettoes and wash their hands of them, with the consequent continuation of Palestinian enmity (however futile and relatively powerless, except to murder the odd Israeli). You mention Oslo in passing. We might debate it some other time.

November 17th, 2011
8:11 PM
Hazlitt, the problem with your response is that you are taking as gospel the words of actors who have a history of saying one thing for Western ears & quite another for internal consumption. In effect, you are falling for exactly what they want you to believe. To think that someone of your seeming rationality would place his faith in the rhetoric of those who glorify suicide-bombing, of those who inculcate children with the belief that shaheed-hood is something to aspire to, is very saddening & quite honestly, infuriating. Green lines & borders are straw-men, it's the very EXISTENCE of Israel (regardless of size) that is objectionable & must be eliminated. Arafat said many things in English & signed lots of paper, which he admitted in Arabic were all Trojan horses. Israel (in its infinite stupidity) made the "painful concession" of allowing him back into the heart of the country, giving him land, guns & money. And that worked out very well for both sides! Hamas, Hezbollah & the so-called "moderate" Fatah are all of the same ilk, all working towards the same end, namely the destruction of the "Zionist entity." How on earth can you advocate for a side that denies the very existence of Israel over a thousand years BEFORE the birth of Islam, BEFORE the 7th-century Arab conquest. The actors you quote are unwilling to acknowledge ANY Jewish connection to that sliver of land whatsoever! You know this flies in the face of historical truth. I would ask them to take a look at the Arch of Titus...are the Romans looting booty from a mosque, for heaven's sake? (They would probably answer in the affirmative, as their historical revisionism posits an astounding number of lies, ie: Jerusalem was never a "Jewish" city, Jesus was a "Palestinian," Moses was a "proto-Muslim," etc.). You may dismiss all this as Zionist propaganda, like you did Phillips' piece, but by doing so you aid in perpetuating the lie (in Arabic, not English!) that Israelis have no "right" to be there, have never been there, & are nothing more than a Western/colonial/imperialist implant. Until the Arabs stop inculcating successive generations with this false notion, there will NEVER be peace.

November 15th, 2011
11:11 AM
Anonymous, I've not been back to this site for some time, otherwise I'd've replied sooner. Abbas, whatever else he may be, is no Nazi. This is silly. I don't know what you mean by "Jewish entity". The PLO recognized Israel decades ago. Hamas has offered for at least a decade to negotiate with Israel on the Green Line. Hizballah has stated that it will observe whatever agreement the Palestinians reach with Israel. The Arab states have offered full diplomatic recognition in return for a resolution on the Green Line. The Muslim states have done likewise (including Iran). It is difficult to offer more. If you mean, the Palestinians must agree that Israel is a "Jewish" state before Israel will negotiate on the Green Line - this is to require the Palestinians to accept that those left within Israel are second-class citizens and those expelled or cleansed are to renounce their legal rights. It isn't clear to me they should do any such thing. The (illegitimate) body Israel chooses to negotiate with (the PA) does not have the authority to cede the rights of the refugees, although, if you read the Palestine Papers, you will find the PA was indeed willing to cede those rights and just about everything else Israel demanded. If you go back to the history, you will find Arab state willing to negotiate with Israel (even before it came into existence!). Is there anti-Semitism in Arab states? Yes. Was it exacerbated by the creation of the state of Israel? Yes. Is it exacerbated by the behaviour of the state of Israel? Yes. Is it a foul blot on the Arab states? Yes. (On Arab anti-Semitism, read Gilbert Achcar, "The Arabs and the Holocaust".) Is this anti-Semitism an obstacle to a resolution of the conflict in Palestine? No. Racism is not at the root of the problem. Melanie Phillips in her small way makes things worse by retailing propaganda for one side. A conscientious journalist would not retail such falsehoods, half-truths, and tendentious editing of facts.

November 11th, 2011
6:11 AM
Doan, you might think abbas hates israelis because they 'conquered his land' and 'kill his people' you might want to open a history book. see that the west bank was conquered in a war launched by 6-7 arab countries, that israel in its 60 years of existance has only tried to self defend itself against a continuous effort to destroy it by its neighbours. that israel is making tremendous efforts to not harm any civilians, and to try to achieve real peace and give the palestinians those lands. when israel was founded, it made a call to all its surrounding countries, to live in peace with them. it was immediately attacked by them and is still being attacked continuously in many ways - wars, terror, murder of its olympic athletes, massive media false propaganda etc. it never had a moment's peace from its neighbours. so dont be so hasty saying abbas has reasons to hate jews. he doesnt. also, denying the holocaust as he has done has nothing with israeli policy. its pure anti-semitism.

November 5th, 2011
1:11 PM
Hazlitt: I think its quite hard for Israelis to understand why Nazi like leader such as Abbas is being applauded worldwide. I think tiki is wrong but it's quite reasonable to think so if you don't understand the mass influence of liberal media across Europe. The truth of the matter is there is not a single arab leader in all of the conflict's history that ever accepted any Jewish entity of any sort in the middle east. There is actually a clear law against accepting such entity in the Palestinian authority punishable only by death because of treason. Most Arab countries are officialy unwelcome jews because of our ethnicity. Racism is the root of the problem and thanks to Melanie and others we might have a change to make things better.

October 30th, 2011
7:10 PM
Give me a break. Why would a Palestinian hate Jews?? (asked incredulously). Next time, try to square your propaganda with some sort of logic that is easier to believe. Otherwise, what might be the longterm effects of perpetuating "doublethink" onto a people?

Max Wolfsson
October 18th, 2011
4:10 PM
Dear Melanie, you forgot another "pacific" fact about Abbas: he was the perpetrator of the massacre of about 30 little children from the little school of Maaloth, in the north of Israel

October 17th, 2011
8:10 AM
well said

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