The dust is still settling following Mahmoud Abbas’s speech to the United Nations, and the consequences of his flat-out rejection of negotiations with Israel are as yet unknown. At this time, a short analysis of his remarks (especially those having to do with Jerusalem) is in order.
He began by accusing Israel of making this year one of “genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people” in the recent war in Gaza. He added that some defend Israel and its “right to self-defense, without regard for the fate of the thousands of victims of our people.”
It has become difficult to be surprised by Arab double-speak (i.e., lies), but surely the above has set new standards for misrepresenting reality. Merriam-Webster defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group” – clearly nothing whatsoever to do with Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.
No rational person has ever accused Israel of setting out to destroy an entire people. Israel’s care in exclusively targeting combatants, also known as terrorists, by giving advance warning and frequently canceling attacks when civilians would be killed, proves that its intentions are precisely the opposite of genocide.
Ironically, it is William Schabas – chairman of the committee charged by the UN to investigate Israeli “war crimes” in Gaza, who has expressed anti-Israeli bias in the past – whose learned definition of genocide belies Abbas’s ridiculous claim. A professor of international law and expert on human rights law and genocide, Schabas maintains that the only genuine genocides in recent history were the Holocaust and those in Armenia and Rwanda. He explains that it is not genocide every time members of a group are killed within a given time frame.
Back to Abbas: In light of Israeli efforts to spare civilian lives, the claim by the PA chairman that Israel has no regard for “the fate of the thousands of [Gaza] victims” unwittingly draws attention to those who truly have no regard for them – Hamas itself. It was Hamas that instructed its citizens to ignore Israeli warnings and remain in buildings housing terrorists. And it is Hamas terrorists who use their own families and neighbors as human shields, thus causing their deaths. A famous cartoon from a number of years ago depicts the situation perfectly: A Hamas/PLO terrorist takes cover behind a baby in its carriage as he fires at an Israeli soldier – who is ready to fire back as he stands in front of a baby carriage to protect it.
In this connection, Abbas uttered his most ridiculous comment at the end of his speech, when he quoted this line from a contemporary Arab poet: “We love life if we are given the chance for it.” They love life?! How many mothers of Arab “martyrs” have rejoiced at the deaths of their sons? In these very pages we recently quoted a young Arab mother who told an Israeli, “Life is valuable – but not for us. Life is zero, life is worthless. That is why we have all the suicide bombers…. All of us, even our children are not afraid of dying. It is natural for us.”
Or consider the words of Hamas commander Raed Sa’ad : “We have succeeded in raising an ideological generation that loves death like our enemies love life.”
Regarding Jerusalem, Abbas at the UN accused Israel of having specifically targeted the holy city “and its inhabitants, attempting to artificially alter [its] spirit, identity and character… focusing on Al-Aqsa Mosque, threatening grave consequences. ”
How bizarre. Jerusalem has absolutely no “Palestinian” history. It is rather embedded in the world’s consciousness as home to Kings David and Solomon, the Holy Temples, and the center of Jewish yearning and national existence for the past 3,000 years. Yet Abbas charges Israel with trying to change the city’s spirit and identity. Even toward the close of the Jewish people’s long exile, and consecutively for the last 170 years, there has been a Jewish majority in the city. As is well known by now, Jerusalem does not appear even once in the Koran, and was the capital of no nation in history other than the Jewish nation. So which side is trying to alter Jerusalem’s spirit and character?