In recent days, we have been treated to the remarkable spectacle of international outrage and criticism of Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas on account of his latest anti-Semitic speech.
Even those who have tended to sanitize Abbas, like former Secretary of State John Kerry, President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, and even the New York Times piled on in criticizing his speech.
Abbas condemned the Jews, among other things for their social behavior and usury, opining that it was these factors, not anti-Semitism, that accounted for their persecution down the ages. He also claimed that most present-day Jews weren’t really Jews at all, citing the discredited notion beloved by anti-Semites that Jews are descended from the Khazar kingdom that converted to Judaism and thus have no connection to the Jews of the Bible.
Accordingly, there was much to condemn in Abbas’ speech, yet the international outrage is nonetheless surprising, not because it is unjustified or exaggerated – it is neither – but because it was so conspicuously absent in the past.
It is not as if Mahmoud Abbas had a pristine record until this month when it comes to Jews. He and the PA he heads have been defaming the Jews for literally decades, not to mention glorifying Jew-killing terrorists living and dead.
This is the same Mahmoud Abbas who for years has named dozens of schools, streets, sports teams, summer camps, and public squares after terrorists who murdered innocent Jews. One particularly illuminating example: the PA has honored repeatedly Dalal Mughrabi, the perpetrator of the 1978 Fatah coastal road massacre in which terrorists under her command hijacked an Israeli bus and murdered its 37 occupants, including a dozen children. The PA has named squares, streets and competitions after Mughrabi.
Abbas is the same leader who honors terrorists with television specials, days of celebration and mourning, and $355 million per year of financial payments to Jew-killers and their families. Indeed, in the very same week that the U.S. enacted the Taylor Force Act, designed to penalize the PA for paying salaries to jailed terrorists and stipends to the families of dead terrorists, the PA published its 2018 budget showing that, in open defiance of U.S. law, it is continuing to financially reward terrorists for murdering Jews.
This is the same Abbas who incited the horrendous 2015-16 “knife intifada” wave of terror, in which Palestinian Arabs murdered 65 innocent Jews and wounded close to a thousand more. The PA repeatedly rebroadcast Abbas’s public blessings on those who spill blood for Allah, to “protect” the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre from being defiled by Jews’ (and presumably Christians’) “filthy feet.”
This is the same Abbas who, via the party he leads’ Facebook page, bragged of having killed more Jews than Hamas, the U.S.- and European Union-recognized terrorist group that calls in its Covenant for the global murder of Jews.
And of course, this is the same Abbas, co-founder, together with arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat, of the terrorist group Fatah, who insists that, in any future Palestinian state, not a single Jew will be allowed to live.
But Abbas had a much earlier start in something equally sinister to encouraging, glorifying, financing, and basking in praise for the murder of Jews – Holocaust denial.
In 1982, Abbas completed a doctoral thesis at Patrice Lumumba University (now the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia) under the title ‘The Connection Between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement,’ and defended at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. This was turned in 1984 into an Arabic language book, The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism, in which Abbas argued that Nazi genocide of the Jews resulting in 6 million dead was a “myth” and a “fantastic lie” that resulted from a Nazi-Zionist plot. He also quoted fellow Holocaust denier Robert Faurrison in a bid to prove that there had been no gas chambers at Auschwitz.
Despite some convoluted retractions and condemnation of the Holocaust in recent years, Abbas, as recently as 2013, was reasserting that the Zionist movement had ties with Nazism. And before Abbas’ foray in Holocaust detail in the 1980s, he proudly arranged the financing for Black September’s sadistic torture (which we now know included brutal beatings and castration) and massacre of the eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. This terrorist slaughter he described as a “heroic operation” and “one of the most important actions in modern history.”
Abbas’ abundantly documented record of anti-Semitic thought and practice over decades is scarcely a secret. The lessons to be drawn from so disgraceful and sinister a record could have been drawn by any government willing to acknowledge it. It is therefore mind-boggling that the truth of it has only now been acknowledged. The truth is no one was interested in knowing anything about it. Foreign governments had no time for facts that might disturb their conception of Israeli culpability and the possibility of a peace built on a profoundly concessionary Israeli policy.
Tragically, Abbas’ views faithfully reflect the views of the Palestinian Arabs. It’s high time to realize Israel doesn’t dare make any more concessions or create a Palestinian Arab state which would only enable the Palestinian Arabs to endanger the Jewish State of Israel.
Morton A Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). Klein has been named one of the top five Jewish leaders by the Forward newspaper. Follow him at @mortonaklein7 and ZOA.ORG.