Mahmoud Abbas, known by his nom de guerre Abu Mazen, has been tapped by PLO leader Yasser Arafat to be the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. Merely the fact that he has been selected by arch-terrorist Arafat to take on the mantle of authority should already give pause to those committed to fighting terrorism. In fact, anyone involved with the corrupt, duplicitous terrorist organization called the PLO — Abu Mazen is the head of its executive committee — should by now be considered unfit to lead anything but a prison-work detail. Beyond his senior position in the PLO, however, Abu Mazen is also a Holocaust revisionist, a conspiracy theorist, and a promoter of terrorism.
Why, then, have defense minister Shaul Mofaz, prime minister Ariel Sharon, and communications minister Yosef Paritzky called Abu Mazen's new appointment a positive development? Prime minister Sharon did add that "everything is dependent on the question of which authorities Abu Mazen will receive from chairman Arafat."
However, that caveat only makes the official Israeli approval of Abu Mazen more pronounced — and that much more troubling for that reason. Furthermore, why has the IDF spokesman's office deleted from its public material all references to Abu Mazen's recent statements in support of terrorist attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets?
The questions are even more acute when one digs a little further back. In an exclusive interview with Arutz Sheva, Knesset member and former commander of the IDF medical corps, Aryeh Eldad (National Union party), said that during the days leading up to the announcement of the Oslo Accords, the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the U.S. State Department both approached the California-based Simon Wiesenthal Center with parallel requests that the center suppress a translation of Abu Mazen's writings showing him to be a Holocaust revisionist. Several years later, after news of the inflammatory material had already hit the press, thanks to Abu Mazen's newfound popularity as one of the PLO architects of the Oslo Accords, the Wiesenthal Center publicly called for Abbas to clarify his position on the Holocaust. No clear statement was forthcoming.
Today, we need no further statements. Mahmoud Abbas/Abu Mazen has made himself crystal clear several times in the recent and not-so-recent past. In an interview with the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat, published on March 3, 2003, Abu Mazen clarified previous statements that have been misinterpreted by many as calling for a demilitarization of the Arab conflict with Israel. He explained: "On the basis of the talks held in Cairo [between the PLO, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.] we agreed upon the freezing of Palestinian military operations [a euphemism for terrorism] for one year.... We did not say, however, that we are giving up the armed struggle... The Intifada must continue." It was these statements that the Israeli government ordered removed from the IDF spokesman's public-relations material.
And there is more. In addition to his tacit approval of attacks on living Jews, Abu Mazen has made his own contribution to the denigration of those already killed. In 1983, he wrote The Other Side: The Secret Relationship between Nazism and the Zionist Movement, wherein he suggested that the figure of six million Jews murdered by the Nazis was a false one, "peddled" by the Jews. To bolster that thesis, he quotes known Holocaust revisionists as authoritative sources. Seeking conspiracy theories that would serve Arab interests, Abu Mazen also wrote that the Zionist movement "led a broad campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule... to expand the mass extermination." Zionists, he contends, collaborated with the Nazis to murder Jews, in order to gain sympathy for the creation of the State of Israel. It is outrageous that the BBC can describe the author of this nonsense as a "highly intellectual man... the author of several books."
Just where is this "author of several books" meant to take us? At present, the PLO demands the formation of a sovereign Arab state in the lands of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Whether Abu Mazen or Yasser Arafat head that state is an irrelevancy, when the Fatah movement, of which both Abu Mazen and Arafat are senior members, bluntly and openly declared that "a legitimate Palestinian entity forms the most important weapon that Arabs have against Israel, the outpost of the imperialist powers." That statement was part of a manifesto marking the 38th anniversary of the founding of Fatah, which later came to comprise the leadership of the PLO, on January 1, 2002. Pointedly, the article emphasized that Fatah was founded in the late 1950s and carried out its first terrorist attack on Israel in 1965 — that is, before Israel conquered the lands now demanded for a PLO state. The celebratory article explains, "Fatah believes that the Zionist movement constitutes the biggest threat against not only Palestinian national security, but also against the security of the Arab world."
If Abu Mazen and Yasser Arafat are in fact birds of a feather, the Israeli government and the U.S. State Department wish to cover up the statements and writings of the PLO's designated prime minister as a simple avoidance mechanism. If Abu Mazen, the PLO leader repeatedly referred to as a "moderate," is also vilified for anti-Semitism and support for terrorism, then that leaves the U.S. and Israel to face an uncomfortable, politically devastating truth: There is no partner for peace on the Arab side of the equation, as it is currently drawn. That means that the difference between Hamas and the most moderate of the PLO leadership is only one of tactics; it means that the PLO-run Palestinian Authority must be destroyed, not reformed; it means that the U.S.-designed Road Map to Middle East peace is a sham, leading nowhere.
When the U.S. and even the rightist Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, have already expressed their support for a Palestinian state as part of a greater vision for a postwar New Middle East, it becomes hard to admit that the "vision" is actually a nightmare. Just ask Shimon Peres.Nissan Ratzlav-Katz is opinion editor at www.IsraelNationalNews.com, and frequently writes for NRO. His commentaries have been published internationally and translated into several languages. He lives in Israel and can be reached through his homepage.
©2003 - National Review Online