Abbas Erred in Invoking the ‘g’ Word
Click on this title for article at Al-Monitor: “Abbas destroyed hopes of Israel’s peace camp“
Shlomi Eldar warns that “in Abbas’ desperate attempts to save his political life, he may very well inflict greater damage on himself and his nation.”
Abbas went to the UN General Assembly with this heavy baggage and with the goal of preserving his position and defeating his opponents. What he did accomplish with one single word was destroy the last remaining bridge that had survived all the storms that raged between the Israelis and Palestinians over the years.
Mahmoud Abbas’ speech last Friday at the United Nations General Assembly gave the highest-profile-ever exposure to the accusation, popular among anti-Zionists, that Israel practices “genocide” against the Palestinians, and that the war in Gaza was a genocidal one. . . . in Israel the speech is already known … as Abbas’ “genocide speech.” That one word seems to have overshadowed everything else he said at the UN podium, which is a pity, because his basic message – that 21 years of internationally-sponsored peace negotiations have screwed the Palestinians, and they will stand for no more – is right and true . . .
. . . it’s politically suicidal, precisely because it’s so clearly false. . . . It allows the right wing to sweep aside everything else, in this case every true thing that Abbas said at the UN, and zero in on that one blatant falsehood. It stamps the anti-occupation cause with fanaticism, with reckless disregard for the truth, with hysterical hatred for Israel. That one stupid word.
. . . When you accuse Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians, you are accusing it of deliberately, systematically executing them en masse, hundreds of thousands or millions of them. You’re accusing Israel of an attempt to exterminate an entire people, like the Nazis did the Jews, like the Ottoman Turks did the Armenians, like the Hutus did the Tutsis in Rwanda. That’s what people think of when they hear the word “genocide.”
That was not the war in Gaza, and that’s not the occupation.
But many anti-Zionists disregard the common understanding of the word, and instead point to the “official” definition adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, and still used at The Hague:
[G]enocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (f) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
As Mitchell Plitnick just wrote, “Now, it is easy to state that Israel would love to see the Palestinians gone. But have their actions been motivated by the ‘intent to destroy’ them? If so, they’ve done a lousy job of it as the Palestinian population has grown significantly and consistently over the years.”
And if the UN definition of genocide does fit Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, or the war in Gaza, then what unjust rule of one nation by another, or what unjust, one-sided, devastating war, was not genocide?
. . . It seems “genocide” has entered the far Left’s vocabulary for no other reason than to satisfy its own rising fury at Israel. . . . The [terms] I use – sparingly, though, because otherwise they lose their effect – are “military dictatorship” and “colonialism” (for the West Bank), along with “tyranny” and “oppression” (for the Palestinians as a whole). . . .
These two articles below provide more context behind Abbas’ verbal aggression, as opposed to the moderation of his policies on the ground. The summaries come from J Street’s daily News Roundup:
According to Ephraim Sneh, “When Abbas came to understand the political mathematics of the situation, he saw that he had no option of a dialogue with the Netanyahu government, let alone the possibility of real negotiations. Since he has consistently and firmly opposed the use of violence for the last 20 years, the only path left for him was diplomatic confrontation with Israel.”
JJ Goldberg says that “Bibi would prefer to have Hamas rather than [President] Abbas running Gaza, so the Palestinians remain divided and there’s nobody to talk to. But arguing against Abbas wasn’t easy — until Abbas addressed the General Assembly and did Bibi’s work for him. The message from Jerusalem regarding Abbas now seems to be: Look at his words, not his deeds.”