Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
We were dismayed by a press release the other day from the World Jewish Congress describing a meeting WJC leaders had with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in London.
According to the release, the president of the WJC, Ronald S. Lauder, and Jack Terpins, the president of the Latin American Jewish Congress (the WJC’s Latin American affiliate) emphasized to Mr. Abbas “the urgent need for a permanent solution to the conflict in the [Middle East] and underlined the role Jewish and Palestinian communities in the Diaspora can play in this respect.”
Mr. Lauder was quoted as having told Mr. Abbas,
Reaching peace with one’s neighbors is part of Jewish yearning, and I am convinced that better cooperation between Jewish and Palestinian communities around the world can help to build the peaceful future both our peoples want.
The press release went on:
LAJC President Jack Terpins informed Abbas “bout the positive experience of Arab and Jewish communities’ coexistence in Latin America where they often live side by side harmoniously. He said that this was a model that should be replicated everywhere in order to lower tensions.
Mr. Terpin’s characterization of Jewish-Muslim relations in his neck of the woods is more rose-colored than realistic, to say the least. But that is for another time. What really grates, though, is so-called Jewish leaders who deal with Mahmoud Abbas as a genuine moderate open to reasonable importuning.
This is the same Mahmoud Abbas who grants subsidies to Palestinians convicted of murdering Israelis. The same Ahmoud Abbas who regularly praises dead terrorists as martyrs. The same Mahmoud Abbas who holds memorial services for terrorists like the perpetrator of the 2001 Sbarro bombing. The same Mahmoud Abbas who names streets after bloodthirsty terrorists. The same Mahmoud Abbas who dismisses any notion of a Jewish connection to the Middle East. The same Mahmoud Abbas who has never recanted his doctoral dissertation in which he described the Holocaust as a “Zionist fantasy.” The same Mahmoud Abbas who refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
And it is not that Lauder & Company are unaware of Mr. Abbas’s perfidy. This past August a WJC press release reported that WJC Secretary General Dan Diker said that “ ‘as a good Muslim,’ Abbas would never be able to accept Israel as a Jewish state in the Middle East because according to Sharia law land conquered by Islam could never be relinquished.” In a subsequent interview Mr. Diker said there was hence “no possibility culturally” for Israel to be recognized “at any time as the nation state of the Jewish people.”
In a press release a month later addressing Mr. Abbas’s attempt to secure UN recognition of a Palestinian state as an end-run around having to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel, Mr. Lauder is quoted as saying:
As many world leaders have told us over the past few weeks, negotiations with Israel are the only viable way for the Palestinians to reach statehood. The fact that he [Abbas] is now turning to the UN shows that Mr. Abbas is more interested in creating a legacy and in personal glory than he is in reaching peace with Israel.
Further, in a December 22nd press release (organizations like the WJC specialize in press releases) the WJC blasted Mr. Abbas for meeting convicted Palestinian terrorists released from Israeli jails in the Gilad Shalit exchange. Here is part of the text:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has come under criticism for meeting a woman who lured a young Israeli victim to the West Bank so that he could be murdered. In Turkey, Abbas was in Turkey [sic] on Wednesday where he sat with Amna Muna, who was released from an Israeli prison in October as part of the deal on the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Muna, who is 35, is infamous for her role in the so-called Honey Trap killing. Using a fake Internet persona, she lured 16-year-old Ophir Rahum to Ramallah, where he was killed by Palestinian terrorists. Muna was later captured by Israeli forces and sentenced to life in jail. Abbas met her and ten other former prisoners released as part of the same deal and sent to live in Turkey.
So for the leader of the Palestinians, it is acceptable not only to make war on Israeli soldiers and adult civilians but also on teenagers. Why then would Mr. Lauder sit down with such an individual and very publicly suggest that part of the problem in securing peace in the Middle East is that Mahmoud Abbas has to be reassured about the intentions of Jews “around the world”?
The WJC has had a long and often illustrious history, and Ron Lauder has served honorably in a number of important positions. Forgive us, but this was not Mr. Lauder’s, or the WJC’s, finest hour.
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