Once a year Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas makes a pilgrimage to the United Nations where he appears to have licence to make unspeakable and false accusations against Israel without being held accountable or challenged about the purpose of his libels, the veracity of which nobody in their right might should believe.
In 2011, he told of a “multi-pronged policy of ethnic cleansing aimed at pushing them [the Palestinian people] away from their ancestral homeland”.
In 2012, he spoke of a “licence for the occupation to continue its policy of dispossession and ethnic cleansing and encourages it to entrench its system of apartheid against the Palestinian people”.
In 2013, when he apparently had a different speech writer, Abbas gave a speech in which he talked of peace and co-existence, but in a way that was so reminiscent of Arafat’s brand of doublespeak that it was hard to take it seriously. In particular, there was the part about the PLO affirming in the late 80s its “choice of peace as a strategic option and of a solution resulting from negotiations, it firmly repudiated violence and affirmed an ethical and principled rejection of terrorism in all its forms, especially State terrorism”. Strangely enough, it was the late 80s and early 90s that brought with them the First Intifada and some of the worst terrorist attacks Israel has seen. And let’s not forget that one of the main players was the military wing of (no surprise for guessing) the PLO, the forerunner of the Palestinian Authority which Abbas today leads.
With this form in mind, it came as no surprise that when he spoke this year at the United Nations, Abbas came out swinging at his “peace partner” Israel, although no doubt he has re-hired the same speech-writer from his previous efforts at the United Nations. He called Israel a “racist, occupying state”, but this time, Abbas took his dissembling to a new level accusing Israel of “genocide”. He declared, “I affirm in front of you that the Palestinian people hold steadfast to their legitimate right to resist this colonial, racist Israeli occupation” and that “the difference today is that the scale of this genocidal crime is larger”. Apparently, “Israel has chosen to make it a year of a new war of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people”.
The difference this year is that Abbas’ Palestinian Authority is in a unity government with Hamas which was recently engaged in this war with Israel. The same Hamas who committed hundreds of war crimes on a daily basis. The same Hamas whose Covenant which calls for the genocide of Israelis and Jews all over the world. The same Hamas who placed the Palestinian people in harm’s way for their own political gain.
And yet, Abbas did not mention the word “Hamas” once during his entire speech.
Of equal interest was the fact that only a few days earlier, US President also mentioned the most recent conflict without mentioning Hamas either.
In his UN speech, President Obama said, “the violence engulfing the region today has made too many Israelis ready to abandon the hard work of peace”. The hard work of peace is not being undone by Israelis disillusioned by the violence. The hard work of peace is being undone by the violence; by rockets fired indiscriminately at Israeli civilians, tunnels that were constructed and opened up on Israeli sovereign territory, with plans to kidnap and murder innocent civilians. The United States has gone to war without a specific threat to its own sovereign territory, and yet Israelis are meant to sit down with people of the same ilk as those they are fighting in Syria and Iraq and sip tea together?
These curious speeches evoked Basil Fawlty’s warning to his hotel staff not to mention the war in front of his German guests. What is it about organisations with racist philosophies that make so many on the political stage so reticent about making the slighted mention of them?
Is this how peace is made? By legitimising hatred of one for the other? By legitimising terrorism?
Perhaps the word “hypocrisy” is apt in this case.
A few days after Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu took to the stage with a difficult task – to expose the shameful lies of the PA leader, and to do so with an audience that had clearly given his nonsensical rant a free pass.
PM Netanyahu seemed to say a number of things that made sense. For example, he compared ISIS to Hamas, saying that they are “branches of the same poisonous tree. They share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control”. Netanyahu demonstrated this straight from the mouths of leaders of ISIS and leaders of Hamas. He also criticised those that applauded strikes on ISIS but condemned Israel a few weeks earlier.
Netanyahu also warned the world not to “be fooled by Iran’s manipulative charm offensive. It’s designed for one purpose, and for one purpose only: To life the sanctions and remove the obstacles to Iran’s path to the bomb. The Islamic Republic is now trying to bamboozle its way to an agreement that will remove the sanctions it still faces, and leave it with the capacity of thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium. This would effectively cement Iran’s place as a threshold military nuclear power. In the future, at a time of its choosing, Iran, the world’s most dangerous state in the world’s most dangerous region, would obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons”.
He pointed out Hamas’ crimes saying, “Hamas embedded its missile batteries in residential areas and told Palestinians to ignore Israel’s warnings to leave. And just in case people didn’t get the message, they executed Palestinian civilians in Gaza who dared to protest… No less reprehensible, Hamas deliberately placed its rockets were Palestinian children live and play… Ladies and gentleman, this is a war crime. And I say to President Abbas, these are the warm crimes committed by your Hamas partners in the national unity government which you head and you are responsible for. And these are the real war crimes you should have investigated, or spoken out against from this podium last week”.
He also declared that “by investigating Israel rather than Hamas for war crimes, the UN Human Rights Council has betrayed its noble mission to protect the innocent. In fact, what it’s doing is to turn the laws of war upside-down. Israel, which took unprecedented steps to minimise civilian casualties, Israel is condemned. Hamas, which both targeted and hid behind civilians – that is a double war crime – Hamas is given a pass”.
The United States did not appreciate the comparisons between ISIS and Hamas, with State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki saying, “certainly we see differences… we would not agree with that characterization”.
She continued, “Obviously, we’ve designated both as terrorist organisations, but ISIL (Islamic State) poses a different threat to Western interests and to the United States. And that’s just a fact.”
It is a fact that the two jihadi groups have different names and operate in slightly different areas but the differences in intent are not so clear. We hear of horrific stories coming out of Syria and Iraq with mass killings and spectacular beheadings all in the name of Islamic hegemony that sounds not unlike that which Hamas preaches in its infamous Covenant.
One feels that the reluctance to mention Hamas and to admit to the similarity of the fight against both it and ISIS has a lot to do with the unwillingness to have exposed the double standards in operation.
The world expects Israel to adopt different standards and rules when faced with asymmetrical warfare than other nations.
But we are already seeing this with the way civilian casualties caused by the US and coalition air strikes are dismissed with a wave of a hand and with few headlines, and even less in terms of demonstrations and anger on the streets.
I recently came across a story of 41 children killed in Syria in a double-bombing on a school. No one took to the streets in protest against that but, at the same time some useful idiots protested in Melbourne outside an Israeli company, without caring at all about dying children in Syria or women in Iraq and the real genocide taking place there.
Meanwhile, Yonit Levi and Udi Segal from Israel’s Channel 2 television station have penned an article for Tablet Magazine entitled “Why the Gaza war looked different on Israeli TV than it did on CNN”. Having spent much of my spare time during the 50 days of Operation Protective Edge glued to Channel 2, and then on the other hand trying to monitor what they were saying about it in the Australian press, I can understand their viewpoint. They write, “Israelis, and the rest of the world were watching two completely different wars. In Israel, the country was under attack and it was all happening on live television… It might be difficult for an outside to understand, but when your child is spending their summer vacation running to find shelter – with merely a 15-second warning in the south, 90 seconds in Tel Aviv – one has limited emotional capacity to see what is happening to the children on the other side. When you add to that the fact that Hamas controlled all data and information coming from Gaza – and banned Israeli reporters – you see the juxtaposition emerging. The world showed the war in Gaza, and its effect on Gazans, while on Israeli television Gaza was a sidebar”.
It is worth reading the article in its entirety.
Chag Succot Sameach.
Media & Advocacy Director
Zionist Federation of Australia