Editorial: Shuffling the Deck

In Texas Hold ‘Em parlance, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has gone all in.

In his Monday opinion piece in the New York Times, Abbas has said to the world that the future of Israel doesn’t matter one iota. In essence, he’s proven that his partnership with Hamas was no fluke, and he has removed the last vestiges of pretense that the Palestinian Authority cares one whit about moderation or establishing an effective dialogue with Israel.

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Abbas begins his tome not in the present, not by acknowledging and respecting his negotiating partner, but by a deliberate smear – focusing on the so-called Nakba, or catastrophe, of Palestinians’ expulsion from their homes when the State of Israel was being formed.

He then shifts to the present and in discussion about whether Palestinians should seek a unilateral declaration and recognition of state through the United Nations, takes as many potshots toward Israel as he can fit into a few paragraphs, to wit:

• Provides another in a long line of references to the “Israeli occupation”

• Admits that recognition of statehood would “pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice”

• States that “Negotiations remain our first option, but do to their (ie, Israel’s) failure we are now compelled to turn to the international community…”

• Refers to Israel’s “attempt to deny us our long-awaited membership in the community of nations…”

• Tries to put Israel on the side of aggression by stating, “We call on all friendly, peace-loving nations to join us in realizing our national aspirations…”

What’s the message? That the PA and Hamas bear zero responsibility for any failures, for death and destruction by terrorists, for digging bombing tunnels, for using civilians as human shields, for kidnapping Israeli soldiers. Basically, he pronounces in no uncertain terms that it’s all Israel’s fault.

No wait, it’s worse than that, because he tries to guilt trip the world into believing that because Israel got a state and the Palestinians didn’t, that the world should support the PA and Hamas in condemning Israel as a pariah and rogue nation.

If Abbas were a Jew, he’d be given a citation for his utter chutzpah. Unfortunately, his rhetoric is as shallow as a child’s wading pool. And it’s going to be palpably ineffective.

What’s the best Abbas can get? Well, a sovereign nation and a seat in the General Assembly. Then what? You think Israel cares if the anti-Semites who chronically vote to condemn the Jewish state do so again? You think the United States will stop supporting Israel? How about China, a major trading and technology partner?

If Abbas wants to rub his hands together in smug self-satisfaction that he’s accomplishing something, let him. We truly hoped that the PA would seek a sovereign declaration for the purpose of getting down to the business of economic development and of helping its citizenry live safer, better and more fulfilling lives. Alas, those hopes are as elusive as wispy smoke rings at this point.

Abbas acts as though he hasn’t even witnessed the Arab uprisings, or perhaps as though he’s only seen them through a very select lens. He sees leverage in the liberated Arab world’s contempt toward Israel. That hatred surely exists, but what he doesn’t understand is the end game, and this is why he will ultimately fail whether he gets his state or not.

The reason is that ultimately, Israelis will put aside their partisan differences in favor of defending its nation from the common enemy. There is no amount of international pressure that Abbas can extract that will cause Israel to ultimately cave beyond what is in its collective best self-interest.

Abbas doesn’t get that. He thinks everything’s a staring contest, that he can show swagger and pride and that if enough bodies are behind him, he can bully Israel into submission.

Has he been paying attention these last 60 years?

Israel’s not going anywhere. It might be battered and bruised in Abbas’ poker game, worse for the wear and all that, but if we had to bet on who the last man at the table will be, there’s no doubt.

So our advice to Abbas (which he won’t take)? Fold now and take your lumps, lest your pot be empty at the end of the night.

 

For another perspective on the Mahmoud Abbas op-ed, see related articles, where David Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, offers his response.