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The audacity of Mahmoud Abbas

Peace cannot come until the anti-Semitic Palestinian leader leaves the stage.

First, he wrote a dissertation in Moscow that denied and distorted the Holocaust.

Next, he adopted the policy of Judenrein—no Jews allowed to live or buy property in ancient Jewish lands. He made laws declaring death to any Arab who sells land to Jews.

He heads the Palestine Liberation Organization, a designated terrorist entity. He supports Iran, the world’s worst sponsor of terror. He denies the right of the Jewish people to live in the land of Israel, and completely rejects the legitimacy of the State of Israel. He has refused talks with Israeli leaders for more than a decade. He would not speak with anyone in the Trump administration.

He not only refuses to revise his regime’s school textbooks that teach hatred of Jews, Zionists and Israel, but maneuvers the EU to release funding to publish them.

Now he demands money from U.S. President Joe Biden, but refuses to stop using it to pay the terrorists he hails as martyrs.

In anticipation of Biden’s scheduled visit to Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia, P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas has the audacity to suggest that it is Israel that needs to be pressured to come to the table.

The following excerpts come from my new book, The Bloody Price of Freedom , published by Gefen Publishing House in Jerusalem and New York, which demonstrates the linkage between terror and anti-Semitism:

Abbas has now served as president of the Palestinian Authority for almost a decade and a half after being elected to a single four-year term. He has been unwilling to negotiate a full peace with Israel, preferring instead to castigate Israel, blame Israel for every ill of the Palestinian Arabs and seek international recognition rather than a negotiated final-status agreement.

A cursory look at his 14-plus years in office demonstrates that Abbas with his style of failed leadership built upon his own self-interest and those of his henchmen. He evidences no commitment to working toward self-determination for his people. Rather, he strives to undo, by any and all means, the self-determination of a people he sees as his archenemy.

Peace and reconciliation between Israeli and Palestinian Arab leaders remain elusive.

Abbas employs a rage-based murderous rejectionist strategy, refusing to negotiate while testing the limits of Israel’s willingness by funding the murder of her innocent people and sacrificing the lives of his own people. Rejectionism and terrorism are each serious and interconnected threats to peace. It is a narrow and deadly connection, because rejectionism demands not pursuing peace with Israel under any circumstances and at all costs, which creates a climate of hate that has spawned the belief that terrorism is justifiable under the guise of freedom-fighting.

Rejectionism is the refusal to accept the legitimacy and right of the Jewish people to a state in their ancestral homeland and the refusal to achieve peace and normalization of relations with Israel, which therefore denies the possibility of a negotiated agreement between the parties presumably based on two states: one Jewish and one Arab.

Indeed, Abbas’ career has consisted largely of attempting to win a decades-long military, legal, diplomatic and intellectual war of deception and denial against Zionism—the right of the Jewish people to sovereignty in their indigenous and ancestral homeland.

Rather than work toward peace between nations or even work for the benefit for his own people, throughout his career Abbas has continuously combined anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and falsification of history as tools to attack Zionism and Israel, acting as a spiritual and ideological descendant of Hitler ally and arch-rejectionist Haj Amin al-Husseini.

In 1982, Abbas defended his doctoral thesis at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, where he argued that the Holocaust had been exaggerated and that Zionists created “the myth” of six million murdered Jews, which he called a “fantastic lie.”

He further claimed that those Jews who were killed by the Nazis were actually the victims of a Zionist-Nazi plot aimed to fuel vengeance against Jews and to expand their mass extermination.

Two years later, he reasserted these insidious views in his book The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism.

While these lies and Holocaust denial and reversal, and misappropriation of the truth dressed up as facts and history are bad enough, the abuse of Holocaust memory was merely a weapon with which to bash his true target: the State of Israel, Zionism and Jewish rights to the reestablishment of Israel in its ancestral homeland.

Over the years, many Palestinian leaders, including Abbas himself, have tried to hide or distance themselves from his views when speaking before international audiences.

Nevertheless, Abbas’ book falsely associating Zionists with Nazis is still taught in several West Bank Palestinian universities and remains proudly featured on his personal website.

Many had hoped that these views may have been those of a person from a different time and perhaps steeped in a former Soviet indoctrination. However, recent actions and words by Abbas have demonstrated clearly that Abbas’ targeted hatred of Zionism, the Holocaust and the Jewish people has never disappeared. It just went largely ignored—tolerated in the spirit of giving Yasser Arafat’s successor a platform to achieve nationhood for Palestinian Arabs.

Nevertheless, Abbas’ blatant hatred has now become impossible to disregard, even for some of his former supporters in Israel and the international community.

Abbas has called the return of the Jewish people to their eternal homeland a “catastrophe,” “racist” and “unethical,” fully denying the inalienable rights of the Jewish people to self-determination.

In a long and rambling 2018 address to a meeting of the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah, Abbas suggested that the root cause of the Holocaust was not so much the Nazis’ genocidal hatred of Jews as the Jews’ own conduct, specifically their “social behavior,” adding that he meant “their social function related to banks and interest.” This blatant anti-Semitism is outrageous and would not be tolerated if uttered by any other elected or anointed leader in the world, nor should it be overlooked from Abbas. He also once again provided fake history to deny the connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel and claimed that the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa always lived well and unmolested under Arab rule—another lie.

While feigning interest in peace talks, particularly when speaking publicly in English, Abbas has a transparently self-serving habit of blaming the lack of progress on every diplomatic development that supports Israel. Following the announcement by then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that West Bank settlements are not inconsistent with international law, Abbas called the U.S. plan for peace “dead” and “lifeless” in a radio interview. The P.A. spokesperson said that the “US administration has lost its credibility to play any future role in the peace process.”

This became particularly regrettable after the Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and advanced the Peace to Prosperity proposal that would not only give the Palestinian Arabs the state that they seek, but also lift many out of poverty while bringing prosperity to the Palestinian economy and the region. Abbas could only respond to the embassy relocation by encouraging violence and “days of rage,” and to the overture toward peace with “a thousand times no.”

Hopefully, those who succeed Abbas will choose to embrace a permanent peace.

It is abundantly clear that the failed leadership reign of Abbas, who has refused to have elections in the Palestinian territories for 14 years, who teaches hate in the Palestinian schools and who rewards and incentivizes terror, must be brought to an immediate end. The entire region deserves better than the hateful, anti-Semitic, rejectionist rhetoric that spews forth from Abbas.

In rejecting peace and in castigating both the UAE and Bahrain (for entering into the historic Abraham Accords), as well as the Arab League itself, alleging that they have turned their backs on the Palestinians, Abbas has done his own people the greatest disservice of modern times. The time for peace is not only at hand—it is now. Numerous Arab governments see the opportunities that peace with Israel, supported by the United States, will bring to their people. More Arab governments are expected to expand relations with Israel, notwithstanding the outrage of Abbas and other Palestinian leaders. Saudi Arabia itself is warming relations with Israel, allowing for airline overflights of Saudi territory.

Yet most Arab governments, including the Saudis, UAE and Bahrain continue to insist, as does the European Union and most governments, upon the “two-state solution” for resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Many governments continue to invoke the principles proposed by the Saudi government in 2002 known as the Arab Peace Initiative.

Time will tell if true regional peace can be accomplished.

Egypt, Jordan and now the UAE and Bahrain (as well as Morocco and Sudan) should be applauded for taking the bold step of standing on stage with Israel, shaking hands and signing a document that envisions a more peaceful and prosperous Middle East for all of its inhabitants.

However, to achieve true peace without more blood, it will indeed be necessary for Abbas or his successors to change their attitudes and concentrate on a better future for all people while accepting the realities of peace. Achieving peace requires not just words, but true deeds and acts designed to recognize the benefits of détente and rapprochement.

In the meantime, meaningless and empty pronouncements cannot unring the bell of hate spewed forth from Abbas. His words, acts and encouragement of incitement and terror can no longer be countenanced.

The Palestinian Arabs need and deserve new leaders who will set aside hate and terror as their modus operandi and will focus on building a real future, health, education, welfare, prosperity, peaceful coexistence and cherished freedoms to which they aspire and which they are entitled to enjoy.

Abbas has proven utterly incapable of moving one inch toward peace and reconciliation and has merely fomented hate and aggression toward Israel, Zionism and Jewish self-determination.

However, perhaps we will soon be in a post-Abbas era. Hopefully, new leadership of the Palestinian Arabs will bring new opportunities to achieve the long-term peace so necessary for the benefit of the Palestinian Arabs, the Israelis and all peoples of the region.

Those of us who care about peace should learn the lessons of looking away when hate is spewed. Indeed, we should no longer turn a blind eye to incitement, rejectionism and the encouragement of heinous acts of terror as a means of accomplishing political goals.

The day has arrived when previously unthought-of peace initiatives are now achievable and thus can bring all the peoples of the region one step closer to a long-sought peaceful, secure and prosperous future.

However, it should be clear that this will not include the Palestinians while Abbas remains their leader. His repeated past refusals to even meet with US officials working toward peace is further proof of his inability to provide the kind of leadership needed by the Palestinian people.

If we truly value peace, we must raise our expectations and not accept the bigotry of any Palestinian leader. The next leaders must not only adopt a peaceful and mutually respectful stance toward Israel, they must reject terror and Abbas’s hateful rhetoric and incitement and open a new chapter in direct relations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, accompanied by the warming relations between Israel and Arab countries in the Gulf.

Richard D. Heideman is Senior Counsel of Heideman Nudelman & Kalik, PC, a Washington, D.C. law firm that represents American victims of terror, Honorary President of B’nai B’rith International and Chairman of the Israel Forever Foundation. The views expressed are his own and are not attributable to any organization.

The Bloody Price of Freedom can be purchased at

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