Abbas, the Jews, and the history that wasn't

Over the last few years it has become very common for Palestinian officials to proclaim that Jews are newcomers to Palestine, and that there never was a Jewish presence before the Zionists came in the XX Century. Furthermore, it is also said that a Temple never stood on Temple Mount (Haram Al Sharif), and Lord Balfour was just an ati semite trying to get rid of his Jews. If you find this description bizarre, I could add an Italian lawmaker offended by a comment by a Holocaust survivor that Jesus was a Jew, or a Palestinian comment claiming Jesus as a Palestinian. I could add a lot more. Most of it has been used by common Palestinians to justify why Jews have no rights to Palestine. What changed lately is that these comments are coming from elected officials of the Palestinian Authority. It beggs the question of why this is happening and why now.

Yasser Arafat (may he be getting his just reward wherever he is) used to play a very dangerous game to keep all Palestinian factions around the table. Hamas, Fatah, PFLP, etc, they all saw him as the father of the Palestinian Nation, respected him and supported him. When he was forced in 2003 to name a Prime Minister, he chose his long-time associate Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen). While Abbas had a very different style from Arafat's and tried to stay behind the curtain, he was in those days a strong proponent of the Two State Solution and promoted the idea of cooperation and coexistence with Israel. Arafat was not happy about it so he marginalized him.

But when Arafat died in 2004, the Palestinian leadership had no choice but to appoint him as President of the Palestinian Authority. In the beginning he continued to advocate coexistence, but as time went by and he felt betrayed by many of his associates and dissapointed by what he perceived to be lack of results in the Peace negotiations with Netanyahu, he started to turn into an authocrat and moved farther and farther away from the idea of coexistence. The win of Hamas in the legislative elections of 2006 and the subsequent take over of Gaza were for him a turning point. From then on, his main interest appears to be survival rather than a Palestinian State.

After feeling dissapointed by Obama because he felt he did not deliver the Palestinian State, he was forced to confront the Trump Administration, which was far less sympathetic to his positions than the prior US Administration. So step by step, Abu Mazen moved away from negotiations and found in promoting International recognition of Palestine at the UN and related fora a way to gain popular support in the Palestinian street. But this didn't help him deliver a Palestinian State either.

Most politicians, when confronted by failure, would try to find a way to rebuild their credibility by changing their political goals to some more attainable ones. But Abbas is a son of the Middle East. His approach was to change his narrative to undermine policies he felt was detrimental for his survival.

So when the Trump Administration announced the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Abbas countered with a statement that there never was a Jewish Jerusalem until the modern Zionist movement and proclaiming the death of the Peace process, lying the responsibility for the death at the feet of Trump and Israel. As a result, he decided to cut any dialogue with Israeli or American representatives. In ther words, with the very people who could help him advance his own agenda.

Then came Pompeo's announcement that the US Administration no longer saw Jewish communities in the West Bank as "inherently incompatible with International Law", Popmeo's statement represents a position that the US governments actually held until the Carter Administration and from Reagan's to Obama's. But the announcement weakened his position in the Palestinian Street, so he countered by claiming that Jews are invaders who came in the XX Century and have no connection to Palestine nor Jerusalem. In other words, a pattern is emerging that with every diplomatic defeat he refuge himself in a more bizarre alternate version of history.

When the Italian politician I mentioned before, from the city of Trieste, took offense at soembody mentioning Jesus' Jewishness, the media and the public ridiculed him by quoting the gospels. Isn't is time past due for somebody to remind Abbas that the Quran mentions that "all lands will be for the faithful, except for the land Allah promised to the Jews, because Allah's promise is eternal" So who are these "Jews" the Quran mentions?

The biggest tragedy the Palestinians had in their quest for dignity, self respect and self-determination, has been their leaders: Hajj Amin Al Husseini (Nazi collaborator), Yasser Arafat (Terrorist leader) and Mahmoud Abbas whom I cannot find a way to define other than a dilletante with a psychotic understanting of History.

Peace, based on the idea of two states for two people, can only be reached when both sides come to the table with an open mind and self-understanding, qualities that, so far, have been hard to find among Palestinians. Like Diogenes, we have been searching for an honest man in the wrong place.


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