Seeing is believing. And when you see Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas actually inciting Palestinians to violence and justifying and urging terrorist acts, it stops you cold.
The words of Abbas and his message are so sinister and hateful that the hairs on my neck actually stood up when I watched a video of his remarks. I cannot help but wonder whether President Barack Obama or senior-level people inside his administration have bothered to watch the clip. It’s readily available on the website of Palestinian Media Watch, which tracks the content that is broadcast to the Palestinian public and shares egregious examples of the steady diet of hate speech that is indoctrinating the next generation of Palestinians.
More importantly, has the White House or the State Department actually considered the degree to which this incitment signals that Israel does not currently have a willing partner for peace on the Palestinian side? In my columns I typically refrain from extensively quoting others, especially when their sentiments are hateful or blatantly anti-Semitic. After all, why give additional airtime to such messages? In this case, though, I think it is important to read the words of Abbas in order to fully understand how outrageous they actually are.
When talking about the Middle East, context is always important. So as you read here what Abbas actually said, keep in mind that they were uttered at the very time that the Palestinians are waging yet another wave of terrorist violence against Israel. The latest incarnation has involved using cars are deadly battering rams to run down Israelis and Palestinian women and even children attacking Israelis with knives and meat cleavers, seeking to hack them to death in surprise attacks on the street in broad daylight.
Here is what Abbas said in remarks carried on Palestinian television:
“We bless you, we bless the murabitin [people carrying out religious war]. We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing, every martyr will reach Paradise and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah. The al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is ours, and they have no right to defile them with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.”
The statements by Abbas are nothing short of remarkable. After all, we have become accustomed to this kind of talk from leaders of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic jihad or any one of the other terrorist groups that remain committed to the destruction of Israel and promote the wanton murder of Jews. But in this instance, we are talking about a man who has been lauded for his supposed “moderation” and has been praised for years in the mainstream media as a Palestinian leader who rejects the idea of using violence and terrorist tactics against Israel.
With Abbas making such hateful statements and defending the use of terrorism against Israelis, how in the world can we expect him to prove himself a true partner for peace with Israel? Should we just shut our ears, close our eyes and ignore the fact that Abbas is explicitly justifying terrorism and propagating the false narrative that Palestinians need to carry out vicious attacks because the Jews are “defiling with their filthy feet” Islamic and Christian holy sites to which Israel is actually guaranteeing free and open access?
Maintaining dual messages (peaceful and pragmatic on one hand and dark and violent on the other hand) is something that Palestinian leaders have been employing since the onset of the Oslo peace process and the installation of Yasser Arafat as the leader of the Palestinian Authority. As those who follow the region will recall, what Arafat said publicly in English and what he told his own people in Arabic were typically two completely different things.
As someone who has traveled to Israel a dozen times to better understand the various issues at play in the Middle East, I find the Abbas statements devastating because they show just how little progress has been made toward peace despite decades of efforts. These kinds of comments from what is supposed to be the moderate side of the Palestinian leadership make you throw your hands up in despair and question whether peace between Israelis and Palestinians will ever be possible.
I certainly hope that peace will one day come to the Holy Land, but for Israel to actually settle its conflict with the Palestinians once and for all will require a true partner on the Palestinian side. Sadly, that goal will remain a pipedream as long as the Palestinian public is being fed a steady diet of hatred and incitement to violence against Israelis and Jews.