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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
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Four Things President Obama Should Tell Mahmoud Abbas

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Asst Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Asst Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
Photo Credit: YouTube

On Yom Kippur, 1972, I was standing alongside a Soviet Jewish dissident outside Moscow’s lone synagogue when we were suddenly surrounded by KGB agents. Sensing my alarm, the refusenik sought to disarm my fear with some vintage Soviet humor.

“In the Socialist Paradise,” he said with a nod toward the plainclothes men, “the workers make believe they worked and the State make believes they paid them.”

That one-liner keeps coming to mind when trying to figure out if Secretary of State John Kerry’s tenacious and tedious struggle to create an agreed-upon “framework” for Israeli/Palestinian peace is real or just another expensive Middle East mirage.

Ask Israelis, and they will tell you the pressure from the Obama-Kerry team has been intense. The just-released Peace Index Poll of the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University found that 64 percent of all Israelis do not trust Kerry to take Israel’s security into account as a “crucial factor” in his “framework.”

Seventy-four percent of Israeli Jews believe the U.S. is putting more pressure on Israel than the Palestinians.

President Obama’s interview with Jeffrey Goldberg on the eve of Bibi Netanyahu’s U.S. visit, wherein he threatened to let Israel twist in the wind of growing international isolation, served only to deepen the concern of Israelis.

And to top it all off, just days before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sits down at the White House, Kerry admits that mutual trust between Israel and the Palestinians is at an all-time low.

And the Iranians provide a 21-gun salute to that meeting by having their lackeys in Gaza launch well more than 30 missiles targeting civilians in Israel’s southern communities.

If Obama is serious about bringing about Mideast peace, it’s about time he got serious with Abbas, and here are four things he should tell him:

1. Stop the campaign denying the Jewish people’s historic link to the Holy Land. Denying that Solomon’s Temple stood on the Temple Mount and that a Jew named Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City is an affront to every Jew in the world and insults both Judaism and Christianity. Despite that historical link, Prime Minister Netanyahu has told his core right-wing constituents in Hebrew that he supports two states for two people. It is past due for you to deliver the same message in Arabic. Forget CNN. Try Al Jazeera.

2. Stop Teaching Your Kids to Lionize Terrorists. I’m talking about terrorists who murdered mothers and children in pizza parlors and city buses and at Passover Seders. In the Internet era, every street named after a mass murderer of Jews, every song celebrating convicted killers that is taught to pre-schoolers, reinforces the average Israeli’s conviction that you don’t want peace.

3. The USA is not an ATM Machine. If he wants more money from the American taxpayer, Abbas must end the endemic corruption in the Palestinian Authority. President Obama should tell him that. It’s no secret that if long-delayed elections were held on the West Bank tomorrow, Hamas and “None of the Above” would far outpoll the PA among a constituency fed up with bombast and empty promises.

Obama should deliver a little tough love of his own by demanding proof that the PA is using the millions it receives in aid for nation and democracy-building.

He should stress that Americans expect transparency and accountability from the P.A., or the U.S. Congress will vote to distribute our aid to the Palestinian people through other means.

4. Recognize Israel as a Jewish state now.  Abbas has long called for self-determination for his people. If he cannot tell his constituents and the 21 other Arab states that he recognizes that millions of Israelis have that same right, any peace process or peace framework would be a delusional sham that could hasten another war.

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8 Responses to “Four Things President Obama Should Tell Mahmoud Abbas”

  1. Philastines are not interested in a statehood .All they want Saudi petro dollars pouring in for ever from arabamerican oil company in Jeddah and Sharjah.do not ask questions just deposite dollars in PA account for good.Otherwise…..!

  2. Hi Rabbi Abraham. I am sad to inform you that Obama is not serious. He is not a serious person, not a serious professor, not a serious polititian, not a serious friend and not a serious US president.

  3. Ken Man says:

    I know it’s hard to feel optimistic given the present climate (it fluctuates) and the duds the American voting public keeps foisting on us… BUT… As my good Mother always say ” we live in a world of wonderful possibilities” yeah I know they aren’t guarantees there’s no guarantee other than eventual ‘death’ but still we must continue explore our wonderful possibilities not collapse into despair & negativism

  4. Show BO the PLO sanctioned Textbooks for children, not that it would sway his mind; but do it Publically.

  5. Allal Amrani says:

    When I read online about Middle East Issues, it does not matter who is the author, they are always self serving. How about witting what is perceived to be the truth as it relates to nationalistic-country boundaries. Let face it, if all of us came from the same source, why in the hell we cannot leave together in peace without boundary line.

    I guess I am dreaming.

  6. Harold Taback says:

    These 4 items should have been on Netanyahu's list to Obama for releasing the last group of terrorists and continuing with the peace talks.

  7. Arthur Toporovsky says:

    Items 1 and 4 are really the same thing. Recognizing Jewish history in the land is a part of recognizing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and vice versa. However, while I may disagree with Rabbi Cooper's drawing a distinction between the two, I fully agree with every statement he has made for each. It is about time that the USA, and other outside parties who are in any way involved in the "peace process", need to recognize the obstacles which are being put in the way of peace by Abbas. Such statements from the USA and UN may not change Abbas, but they would put his actions into a different perspective, and would at the least identify them for those willing to see as being wrong.

    Like the story of The Emperor's New Clothes, it is time that someone speaks up and says, Abbas, you are naked.

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