Abbas speaks to Norwegians (and people like us)

Israelwhat is bringing breaking news, while the Norwegian press is awaiting instructions on how to respond to Mahmoud Abbas’s op-ed in the New York Times. No reason to wait: Abbas will receive a standing ovation from Støre and his constituency. Norway is clamoring to be the very first country to recognize the Hamas-Fatah government: hook, line, and sinker.

The op-ed is worth reading in some detail, however, because it is a masterpiece of doublespeak. Abbas is signalling that he is looking for victory not peace, vindication not justice.

  • “1967 border” What border? Abbas was alive in 1967, old enough to remember that every Arab regime categorically refused to entertain the notion that the 1949 armistice line was even indicative of an internationally recognized border. He is trying to rewrite history to make it seem like there was a stable status quo between 1949 and 1967, when there wasn’t.
  • General Assembly Resolution approving the UNSCOP plan. Abbas is trying to obtain legitimacy for a Palestinian (no Jews need apply) state by invoking this resolution. Forgetting rather conveniently that every Arab regime categorically rejected and denounced this plan as repulsive.  Abbas is old enough to remember this too. Now, in 2011, he wants it to be binding.
  • Arab armies intervened to stop “Zionist forces [from] expelling Palestinian Arabs.” Where to begin? This is true only in the sense that Soviet forces intervened in the Baltic states to stop ethnic cleansing of ethnic Russians. It should surprise no one that Abbas is capable of turning lies into history, but I suspect a great many Norwegians believe this rubbish. And that Støre and his ilk, who know better, simply don’t have the personal integrity to go against it.
  • Negotiations remain our first option. Since when? Today, May 17th? No matter how you feel about Israel’s settlement policy, anyone who is committed to a negotiated settlement would not allow them to stand in the way of honest discussions.
  • Palestine would be negotiating from the position of one United Nations member whose territory is militarily occupied by another, however, and not as a vanquished people ready to accept whatever terms are put in front of us.”  Well, to take the last item first: when did the Palestinian authority ever show any readiness to accept terms that were in put of front of them? The key characteristic of the Palestinian, indeed all of Arab negotiating stance, is to insist on victors’ terms. It would be as if the Confederacy agreed to rejoin the Union if the capital remained in Richmond, slavery were reinstated all over the republic, Lincoln resigned from the presidency and swore in Jefferson Davis, and the country was renamed the Confederate States of America.
  • (Let me just interject here that if the UN as a whole, or indeed a large majority of the members, recognized a Palestinian state within defined borders and insisted on imposing those borders on Israel, there would be an intolerable precedence. Think about it. Anyone who favors such an approach is either stupid or praying that it’s a standard that will only be imposed on Jews.)
  • “We go to the United Nations now to secure the right to live free in the remaining 22 percent of our historic homeland.” Well, it all depends on how you do the math. But let me point out one simple fact: prior to the British Mandate of Palestine, in 1923, Abbas’s homeland had no defined borders other than those arbitrarily set for administrative purposes in Istanbul. And the mandate consisted of today’s Israel, West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. And people of all kinds of ethnicities, languages, and religions traveled freely within this area. (If it weren’t for the fact that the Ottoman Empire was so nasty in so many ways, one could say these were the good old days). This is why Palestinians have cousins who are Egyptians, uncles who are Lebanese, etc. They are an incredibly cosmopolitan people, and this much to their credit. The 22% is to define the denominator as favorably as possible to Abbas’s cause – which he is of course entitled to do. But we don’t have to be so stupid and naive as to accept it as gospel.

Much more can be written about this op-ed, but it is obvious that its target audience is neither Palestinians, Israelis, Americans, nor educated, principled Europeans. They are all capable of seeing this as the revisionist propaganda it is. They might cheer, boo, or shrug, but they are not fooled.

The audience is those who desperately want it to be true. Which is why it will be reproduced as indisputable in the Norwegian press. Just wait and see.