Abbas is a gift to the Right Wing. Not one day ago, he made a speech in which he declared blood spilled on the Temple Mount/Al Haram al Sharif “holy,” and then lambasted Israel for the death of a 13 year old Ahmed Mansara, a Palestinian who attempted to murder two Israelis, who in fact remains very much alive in Ein Kerem Hospital.
Never mind that this plays right into Bibi’s hands, retroactively rendering true the previously false
assertions that Abbas was inciting his populace. Never mind the blatant falsehood or the disturbingly blood-soaked imagery. This is beyond that. This is about the fact that Abbas is not the Gandhi figure the Left wishes him to be, and we on the Left need to understand this. It is true that Palestinians have no partner for peace in Bibi, but as a weak and isolated leader (due in part – but only in part – to Bibi’s efforts), Abbas is not a partner for peace either. That opportunity has come and gone, squandered by all of us, but never more so when he came out with the corkers he did not one day ago.
What we must remember and continue to assert is that the lack of credible political actors does not render the Occupation retroactively just. Terrorism, knife-attacks, stone throwing, all these noxious actions do not render the Occupation morally just, politically feasible, or economically viable, nor Bibi’s Fortress Israel mentality any less damning and dangerous for us all. We cannot allow the failures of political actors to distract from the real and pressing issues. Politicians come and go, but the immorality of the Occupation remains. Abbas is wrong when stating that Ahmed was killed, executed without trial in the streets. But if we don’t act now, there will be others who will fit that description all too readily.
I largely agree with your post, except for the first line. No possible Palestinian president would be treated any differently by the Israeli Right. Moreover, I don’t think there’s anyone on the Israeli Left – or anywhere else – who idolizes Abbas or sees him as Gandhi-like. Unfortunately, he’s not only the President; there’s no one else who is really imaginable for the job at this point, although he’s 80 years old, and will necessarily step down fairly soon, one way or the other.
I think most of us see him for who is; someone who can be a partner for peace but who doesn’t possess the diplomatic and political skills that would enable him either to rally the Palestinians or to deal with Bibi; let alone both, which is what is needed.
Paul, I seem to be able to imagine Marwan Barghouti, not only as a successor to Abbas, but as a potentially far superior leader for the Palestinians. To be sure, he is now serving multiple life terms in an Israeli prison, where he is effectively Dean of Students for the rising generation of Palestinian activists. If and when it suits the Israelis, he can be released.