After decades of defending him, NY Times calls Abbas “vile” and calls on him to go

May 04, 2018

A West Bank villa of one of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’s inner circle. Abbas’ new house in Ramallah, which I drove past recently, is bigger than this.



[Note by Tom Gross]

For decades, critics of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have been drawing attention to his repeated anti-Semitism, to his Holocaust denial, to his large-scale corruption, and to his incitement and orders to kill Jews and others.

See, for example, my dispatch of June 2003 (Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) and the Holocaust). (It was written when Abbas was still generally known as Abu Mazen, and was serving as Yasser Arafat’s prime minister and effective number 2.)

I asked then, as I have asked on many other occasions both before and since, why in all the countless articles about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and about Abbas himself, mainstream liberal newspapers and politicians almost always shy away from criticizing him.


For example, I wrote in 2003: “It is strange, especially in Europe, that the world’s most prominent prime ministerial Holocaust denier is being treated with such great respect and moral authority. Why hasn’t Abbas’s main champion in Europe, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, asked him to specifically retract his statements of Holocaust denial?”

On many occasions since Abbas became Palestinian President in 2004, I asking why the New York Times – that never seems to tire of criticizing Israel almost every day in its editorial and op-ed pages, and often on its news and culture pages too – barely ever mentioned that Abbas, whom they have heaped praised upon, had written a whole book denying the Holocaust -- “the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed”, as Abbas wrote.


Finally, even the New York Times has had enough, and in an editorial (attached below) it calls on Abbas to resign. This follows Abbas’s latest speech earlier this week blaming the Jews for causing the Holocaust.

Those of us interested in Israeli-Palestinian peace have called on Abbas to resign for many years, since he is one of the greatest obstacles to peace, turning down peace offer after peace offer from successive Israeli prime ministers and refusing to even negotiate peace with Israel for a decade now.


It took over 50 years for the New York Times to apologize for deliberately not reporting on the Holocaust while it was happening.

As I have written before, in the days before TV and the Internet, the New York Times was by far the most important media outlet in America, and had they not covered up the Holocaust throughout the Second World War, public pressure might have grown on FDR to bomb the railway lines to Auschwitz and save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Now that they have finally acknowledged Abbas for the kind of man he is, the New York Times editorial board might ask themselves why for all these years they have been so soft on Abbas.

And even now, the Times editorial on Abbas (below) downplays the problem, as well as the massive level of corruption by him and his sons (who have filled their banks accounts with diverted western aid money) making it sound as if Palestinian corruption is merely result of insufficient oversight.


Just as the New York Times is finally criticizing Abbas so are his other longtime defenders in the West, including J Street, former Secretary of State John Kerry, Barack Obama’s former Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, and the European Union.


The Abbas they have suddenly decided to distance themselves from is the same Abbas who has continued, year after year, to name Palestinians schools, streets, public squares, sports teams, and children’s summer camps, after terrorists and suicide bombers. It is the same Abbas who pays over $350 million per annum to reward the families of Palestinian terrorists. It is the same Abbas who, for example, in a 2015 speech said “Jews had filthy feet”.


The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay E. Mladenov, said. “Such statements [by Abbas on May 2] are unacceptable, deeply disturbing and do not serve the interests of the Palestinian people or peace in the Middle East. Leaders have an obligation to confront anti-Semitism everywhere and always, not perpetuate the conspiracy theories that fuel it.”

(Of course Palestinian school books and media, many paid for with UN funds, are full of such conspiracy theories about Jews and denials of Jewish history -- Tom Gross)

The new head of the traditionally pro-Palestinian UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, tweeted:

“Joining my voice to UN envoy @nmladenov regarding comments by President Abbas. All forms of antisemitism, including Holocaust denial and relativization, are unacceptable. @UNESCO promotes Holocaust education against falsifications of history & combats antisemitism thru education.”

David Friedman, Donald Trump’s ambassador to Israel, said in relation to Abbas’ latest hateful remarks about Jews: “To all those who think Israel is the reason that we don’t have peace, think again.”

-- Tom Gross


See also:

“Yasser Abbas: Has anything really changed?” (By Tom Gross, Wall Street Journal

“The NY Times: All The News That’s Fit To Print?” (By Tom Gross, NRO)

Mahmoud Abbas and the Munich Olympics massacre



In separate news, the Jerusalem Post reports this morning:

“The Trump administration will ask Israel to withdraw from four Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, which will likely become the capital of a future Palestinian state, US officials told Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman during his visit to Washington last week.

“The transfer of control over the neighborhoods – Jebl Mukabar, Isawiya, Shuafat and Abu Dis – was presented to Liberman as just one piece of the larger peace plan the administration has been working on over the last year. Israel, the officials indicated, would be expected to accept the plan once it is presented despite the potentially painful concessions.

“News of the demand come less than two weeks before the US Embassy officially moves to Jerusalem on May 14. The full plan is expected to be unveiled shortly after the embassy moves.”

To the derision of many other commentators, I have on many occasions said that the Trump administration’s approach to the peace process is more likely to yield concrete results than the failed approaches of previous US administrations. Most recently, I wrote this last week:

Will Trump surprise some with Palestinian peace, just like he surprised with N Korea?

-- Tom Gross


Let Abbas’s Vile Words Be His Last as Palestinian Leader
By The Editorial Board
New York Times
May 3, 2018

Feeding reprehensible anti-Semitic myths and conspiracy theories in a speech on Monday, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, shed all credibility as a trustworthy partner if the Palestinians and Israelis ever again have the nerve to try negotiations.

Speaking to the Palestinian legislative body, Mr. Abbas, 82, said the mass murder of European Jews in the Holocaust was the result of the victims’ financial activities, not their religious identity and anti-Semitism.

“So the Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion, but against their social function, which relates to usury (unscrupulous money lending) and banking and such,” he said, according to the BBC.

Mr. Abbas’s anti-Semitic tendencies are not new. In the 1980s, he wrote a dissertation that seemed to question the widely accepted Holocaust death toll of six million Jews.

While seen as a successor to the longtime Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, in 2003 he played down that notion, saying, “The Holocaust was a terrible, unforgivable crime against the Jewish nation, a crime against humanity that cannot be accepted by humankind.”

Things looked more hopeful in 1993 when Mr. Abbas stood on the White House lawn and watched Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and Mr. Arafat sign the Oslo Accords that were supposed to eventually lead to two states and peace.

In the intervening years, there have been ups and downs in that quest, but the trend for some time has been depressingly downward. The dream of an independent Palestine faded further away and Mr. Abbas came under increasing pressure.

Since the last serious peace talks collapsed in 2014, Israel’s hard-line government has expanded settlement building to cover more of the land envisioned for a Palestinian state. Although President Trump promised a peace plan, none has materialized, but reports suggest it would favor Israel.

Arab nations, once the Palestinians’ patrons, have lost interest and have turned their attention to fighting wars in Yemen and Syria and checking Iran’s regional influence. During a recent meeting with Jewish-American leaders, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia faulted Palestinian leaders for complaining and rejecting past Israeli peace offers.

Mr. Abbas opposed Mr. Arafat during the 2000-2005 second intifada, recognized Israel, and committed himself to a nonviolent approach to negotiations for peace and a two-state solution. He was valued by the West as Mr. Arafat’s successor, and for years he has deployed Palestinian forces to help Israelis maintain security in the West Bank.

But pressures, some of his own making and many others caused by Israel, which has ultimate control over the West Bank, are building. Mr. Abbas, who oversees a governing system plagued by corruption and dysfunction, has lost support among the Palestinian people.

He has weakened government institutions that are essential for a future state and refused to call new elections, thus overstaying his term by many years and preventing younger leaders from emerging.

He has also failed to unify the Palestinians in the West Bank, where his Fatah faction dominates, with those in the even more desperate circumstances of the Gaza Strip, where Hamas holds sway.

Even in this gloomy climate, however, Mr. Abbas’s vile speech was a new low. No doubt he feels embittered and besieged on all sides. But by succumbing to such dark, corrosive instincts he showed that it is time for him to leave office.

Palestinians need a leader with energy, integrity and vision, one who might have a better chance of achieving Palestinian independence and enabling both peoples to live in peace.


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All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.