Dire Consequences: Abbas Edition
During Mahmoud Abbas’s Cooper Union address, he called for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to help “make peace.” What he failed to mention was how he and his party were going to do the same.
After last week’s horrific terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, the deadliest attack in over three years, the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization had little to say. Soon after the attack Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. "This is the direct result of the incitement being led by Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas, incitement which the international community is irresponsibly ignoring," Netanyahu stated in his address. Only after hours of waiting and a statement by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry did Abbas finally react. While Abbas’s response included an apology, it also needled in an excuse: "We also condemn the violence and call to stop interference at Al-Aqsa [the Temple Mount] and the incitement by Israeli ministers," Abbas’s office stated. Abbas uses simple victim blaming tactics, forcing the victims to take responsibility for the attack and removing culpability from the terrorists.
The Temple Mount, an important religious site for Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike, has been a target for violence over the weeks leading up to the attack. Aside from sporadic violent riots on the Temple Mount, Rabbi Yehuda Glick, the leading advocate for Jewish access to the Temple Mount, was shot four times in the chest by Mu’taz Hijazi, an Arab gunman. Glick had just given a speech at the Begin Center in Jerusalem regarding the lack of Jewish presence on the Temple Mount and was met outside by a man on a motorcycle. According to Glick, who survived the attack, before shooting him Hijazi said, “I’m very sorry. You are the enemy of Al-Aqsa.”
Hijazi, a Jerusalem resident living ten minutes away from the Temple Mount, resisted arrest and was killed by Israeli police. Instead of condemning Hijazi’s reprehensible actions, Abbas sent his family a letter in the mail. According to the Jerusalem Post, Abbas wrote that he received with “anger and condemnation the news of the heinous crime committed by the gangs of killing and terrorism in the Israeli occupation army.”
Upset by this, Netanyahu stated, "When we are trying to calm the situation, Abbas sends condolences over the death of one who tried to perpetrate a reprehensible murder. The time has come for the international community to condemn him for such actions.” This recurring passive reaction has gone on for too long. Abbas did not mention the assassination attempt. He did not mention the peace that he demanded Netanyahu to make. Instead he concluded that this killing would be added to the “crimes of the Israeli occupation army against our people since the nakba (in 1948).”
For people unfamiliar with Israeli politics I offer you an episode worthy of comparison. In 1994 Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli, killed 29 and injured 125 Arab Muslims who were praying inside of a mosque. Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin condemned the attack, describing Goldstein as a "degenerate murderer” and "a shame on Zionism and an embarrassment to Judaism.” No one made an excuse. No one pointed a finger. The Israeli government owned up for what they knew to be wrong and censured Goldstein.
What Abbas told the crowd at Cooper Union was that he was looking for a partner in peace. After his continual lack of leadership, world leaders like Kerry, Glick, and Netanyahu are thirsty for the same thing Abbas claims to want- an active partner in peace.
- Elisha Jacobs