We need to refute the kind of view expressed by Daniel Gordis in his Jerusalem Post column, ” We Gave Peace a Chance.” This neocon American oleh expresses a false, pernicious and ultimately defeatist perspective in the guise of “realism.”
|Pres. Abbas (aka Abu Mazen)
I will not defend what Hamas and other rejectionists say or do, nor will I defend every alleged statement or action of Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinians who endorse a two-state solution. For example, I have long stated here (against the view of some colleagues and friends in our dovish pro-Israel camp) that the Palestinians would be better off if they disabused most mainstream Israelis and Jews of their doubts by clearly endorsing the notion of Jewish nationhood.
And the Palestinians should have negotiated early in the partial settlement freeze, just as they should negotiate now — even as I fully understand their distaste for doing so in the face of ongoing construction for settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It simply doesn’t help the Palestinians to appear not to want to negotiate, when it’s really Israel that’s not being serious.
It is ludicrous to claim that Netanyahu’s government “gave peace a chance” when it clearly prefers expanding settlements and blocking Palestinian sovereignty in Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. If, as Gordis claims, “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared to Egyptian TV that he would never, in a thousand years, recognize a Jewish state,” this was not good, but he’s insisted for years on the principle of two states, including Israel’s sovereign right to define itself as it will.
It would also help if he could repudiate his despicable 1984 doctoral thesis. We have this from a January article in the highly respected Times of Israel news website, quoting Abbas from a recent two-hour interview with him on Lebanese television:
“I challenge any of them [the Israelis] to deny the ties between Zionism and Nazism before World War II,” Abbas said, adding that he had 70 unpublished books [on the topic] which he promised to expand upon in a future interview. [I blogged here on the “Transfer Agreement,” nearly three years ago.]
The title of Abbas’s doctoral dissertation, written in the Soviet Union, is “The other side: The secret relationship between Nazism and Zionism.” In it, Abbas claimed that Zionism fabricated the “myth” of six million murdered Jews.
Abbas is colossally wrong in these views, but this bitter echo of history should not be a sticking point against building a better future. And it is a distortion to say that “he still insists on the refugees’ right of return….” This is not what Ehud Olmert has told us, nor what Bernard Avishai reported on the negotiations that culminated in late 2008 when Olmert chose proceeding to war on Gaza rather than concluding peace negotiations in Washington, DC. Avishai reported a gap between Olmert and Abbas on this issue, but it was about the relatively small number of refugees to be allowed back (at Israel’s discretion), not that it would be an unlimited right of return.