A moderate state of denial
Published in: Jewish Chronicle
Not long ago, I had an animated discussion with a government minister. He was suggesting that in certain circumstances – not now, mind, but if there were a bit of give and take – Britain might think about talking to Hamas. When I reacted with horror, he said defensively, ‘Well, have you got any better ideas?’ (I gave him one or two, but strangely he didn’t seem to care for those either).
I had previously had almost identical conversations with other ministers. Then, however, it was Arafat, not Hamas, with whom they said the world had no alternative but to deal. Would they have taken the same attitude to Hitler? I asked them all. Because like the 1930s, just what is there to talk about with people whose non-negotiable position is the destruction of the Jewish entity?
I was thinking about these conversations when I read the reported recent comments of Mahmoud Abbas, the ‘moderate’ Fatah leader. I say ‘reported’ advisedly, since as far as I know they were not reported by the mainstream media. Might that be because it found what he said too inconvenient to fit the – what’s the word these days; ah yes -- ‘narrative’ of the moderation of Abbas and the noble cause for which he is fighting?
For according to a report on WorldNetDaily, the ‘moderate’ Abbas called upon the Palestinians to stop fighting each other and instead ‘raise our rifles only against the Israeli occupation’. But wasn’t he supposed to be, unlike Arafat, a man who didn’t want to kill Israelis? Isn’t that why we supposedly can do business with him and not with Hamas?
He is, after all, the ‘moderate’ being frantically propped up by the American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. This week, she asked him nicely if, to break the stalemate, he would set up within temporary borders the state he says he wants. No way, said the ‘moderate’ Abbas; he wanted the lot now, right of return as well – and that was non-negotiable.
Couldn’t be clearer, you might think: the destruction of Israel, through unlimited Arab immigration to a state that is not Palestine, is to him non-negotiable. Yet America has armed him with 7,000 assault rifles and one million rounds of ammunition, all given safe passage by Israel as a special delivery to Fatah –some members of which openly belong to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
Of course we all understand that this is to help Abbas defeat Hamas, because Hamas is pledged to destroy Israel. Would that be the same Hamas whose erstwhile leader Sheikh Yassin, who was killed by the Israelis, was praised by Abbas in his remarks?
And anyway, Fatah also wants Israel destroyed. Its maps and insignia erase Israel from the Middle East altogether. It teaches its children to hate and to kill Jews. And it says at every turn that the two-state solution is but a staging post to the final solution of one state. As Khaled Abu Toameh wrote in the Jerusalem Post, the idea that Abbas is militarily weak is ludicrous. He controls more than 45,000 security personnel, in addition to thousands of Fatah gunmen and activists, compared with fewer than 5000 Hamas militiamen.
He doesn’t fight Hamas not because he is weak but because he refuses point blank to have a Palestinian civil war. Palestinian blood, he says, must not be spilt. Instead he will use the guns supplied to him so thoughtfully by America and Israel to spill Jewish blood. That’s because he accuses the Jews of corrupting the world, quoting the Koran verse 5:64 which goes on: ‘We have cast among them enmity and hatred till the day of resurrection’.
Such rabid antisemitism should surprise no-one who recalls that he has a PhD in Holocaust denial. But the appalling thing is that most of the so-called civilised world colludes at the fiction that he is a moderate and that he represents a just cause for which the Palestinians will accept a just solution.
If that were so, Israel and a Palestinian state would have been living peacefully side by side for the past six decades. But the world ignores the facts of history. It ignores the disgusting things Abbas says. It ignores the Palestinian death cult he does nothing to stop, and scapegoats Israel instead as the regional bully.
Sympathy for murderous hatred has thus become – obscenely -- the great compassionate cause of the west. And many Jews, on both sides of the Atlantic and in Israel itself, have fallen for it too. They have been persuaded to see in the plight of the Palestinian people their own historic reflection.
Individual Palestinians may deserve compassion, but their cause amounts to Holocaust denial as a national project. The great Jewish heart thus bleeds for its own destruction.