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The whitewashing of Mahmoud Abbas

The antisemitic kleptocrat represents the opposite of Israeli and Zionist values.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, on May 7, 2020. Photo by Flash90.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, on May 7, 2020. Photo by Flash90.
Rabbi Uri Pilichowski
Uri Pilichowski

Every year over the last few decades, Palestinians have commemorated what they call the “Nakba”—Arabic for “catastrophe.” This “catastrophe” refers to Israel’s founding in 1948. The Palestinians accuse Israel of displacing the majority of Palestinian Arabs and charge that the Nakba continues today in the form of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians.

This year, for the first time, the United Nations held a commemoration of the Nakba, despite the protests of the U.S., Canada and Israel.

From Israel’s perspective, the Nakba is just another talking point in the Palestinians’ campaign to vilify Israel. Palestinians weren’t forced out of Israel, they left of their own volition, mostly in hopes that invading Arab armies would annihilate the Jews and end the Zionist dream.

However, the U.N.’s commemoration of the faux Nakba was the perfect setting for Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas to spread even more lies about Israel.

Examining Abbas’s lies is important, not to bring Abbas down or disprove his claims, but to understand the values of Zionism and modern-day Israel.

While many Israelis and Israel advocates spend their time and energy defending Israel from lies, others examine these lies themselves. Sometimes the best way to understand your own values is to examine the opposite values. In looking at Mahmoud Abbas and his lies, and how the world tolerates them, Zionists can better understand themselves.

After Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died, then-President George W. Bush called for a “new and different” Palestinian leadership. Abbas was supposed to be a new and different leader.

Unfortunately, Abbas turned out to be no better than his predecessor. Abbas is widely known as a corrupt leader, siphoning off hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid to his and his family’s personal bank accounts. He was elected to a four-year term in 2005 and has refused to allow another election since then. He is currently in the 18th year of that four-year term.

Abbas isn’t just corrupt and a dictator, he is also an antisemite. His hatred of Jews stretches back at least to the late 1970s, when he studied for a doctorate at Moscow’s Institute of Oriental Studies. Abbas titled his doctoral thesis “The Connections Between Zionism and Nazism Between the Years 1933–1945.”

The doctorate claimed that Nazism and Zionism had much in common and that Nazis and Zionists collaborated. At the U.N. commemoration of the Nakba, Abbas stated that Jews lie just like Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. It would have been more accurate for him to say this about himself.

World leaders hoped Abbas was a moderate who would sign a deal with Israel and end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unfortunately, Abbas has done anything but. Even when he met with Israeli prime ministers, he was not serious about negotiating, and he has spent the last decade refusing to meet Israeli prime ministers at all.

Instead of putting down Hamas, Abbas has signed multiple deals with the terrorist organization. Most damning, Abbas has continued the P.A.’s “pay-to-slay” program that funds Palestinian terrorists and their families on a sliding scale based on the heinousness of their attacks.

Most surprisingly, instead of being shunned by the world—as a corrupt, antisemitic and terror-supporting dictator should be—Abbas has been embraced by world leaders. American presidents Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden have all met with and honored Abbas. Abbas is regularly given the podium of the U.N. Incredibly, he still receives billions of dollars in foreign aid for him to steal.

“Whitewashing” is a term used to describe glossing over crimes and immoral behavior by focusing on other aspects of the criminal. Ironically, many of Israel’s best policies, including providing medical treatment to people from around the world, sending help to natural disaster zones and providing equal rights to Israel’s most downtrodden citizens, are often besmirched as whitewashing.

This is ironic, because if there is whitewashing going on between the “river and the sea” it isn’t on Israel’s part. It’s the international community granting legitimacy to a corrupt Abbas and his Palestinian Authority when they are nothing but a crime syndicate.

Israel and Zionism stand for justice, pluralism and peace. From its inception, Zionism sought peaceful coexistence with its neighbors and Arabs living in the Jewish people’s homeland. Mahmoud Abbas embodies the exact opposite of every Zionist value.

Rabbi Uri Pilichowski is a senior educator at numerous educational institutions. The author of three books, he teaches Torah, Zionism and Israel studies around the world.

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