Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dissecting Abbas

So what about that speech Mahmoud Abbas gave at Annapolis yesterday? I listened to it live. It was long. It rambled. And there was an awful lot of quoting of American presidents out of context. Maybe the simultaneous translation was bad, but I can't make any more sense out of it in print.

Or can I?

Take these few contiguous paragraphs, which I think contain the essence of the message:

I look forward, Mr. President, to see that our prisoners have been set free and returned to exercise their role in supporting peace and to stand by us in our mission to build our statehood and our homeland.

That sounds good. Except that the prisoners he's talking about are mostly terrorists who are dedicated to the antithesis of peace, who never had the slightest role in supporting peace to begin with (so how can they return to it?) and whose idea of building statehood is to destroy and plunder, both their own "homeland" and ours. One of things that's missing from this speech is even the slightest acknowledgement of these simple facts.

It is my duty to say that, to have peace, we need the fate of the city of Jerusalem to be a critical component in any peace accord that we might reach.

We need East Jerusalem to be our capital and to establish open relations with western Jerusalem, and to ensure for all the faithful from all religions their right to exercise their rituals and to access holy shrines without any discrimination and on the basis of international and humanitarian goals.

Now, I confess I was momentarily taken aback by that one. Was Abbas suggesting he would permit Jewish access to Jewish holy sites in Arab controlled areas? Because that would be news. That would be big. He'd have the devil's own time pushing it through, but was he really undertaking to make the effort? Well, no, I think I heard much more than he said. "... the right to exercise their rituals and to access holy shrines ..." -- What holy shrines? Rachel's Tomb? (What's left of) Joseph's Tomb? The Machpelah? The Temple Mount? The Western Wall? Intact or stripped of their Jewish character? And what is "access?" The right to visit? The right to pray? Well certainly not the latter. According to the PA, these holy shrines are all mosques, not synagogues. Jews are welcome to visit them, "on the basis of international and humanitarian goals," of course. But no praying. And no shofar blowing. That's been made crystal clear. "Access." It means nothing.

In this regard, I wish to emphasize that we shall pursue our obligations under the road map, in order to combat chaos, violence, terrorism, and to ensure security, order and the rule of law.

The government of the Palestinian National Authority works tirelessly and without any wavering under extremely conditions to achieve this noble goal that represents, first and foremost, a Palestinian national interest before it becomes a political requirement that is imposed by signed accords or the road map.

It does? Since when? The PNA has proven itself to be utterly incapable of any such thing. It has proven itself to be corrupt, inept and powerless, except at lining the personal coffers of its upper echelons. Ma nishtana? Why should this time be any different than all the other times? Who would be stupid enough to buy such a bill of goods at this point without a boatload of new and substantial guarantees? Well, there are no guarantees.

Our people distinguish completely between emphasis on the danger of terrorism and using it as a pretext to maintain the status quo and to pursue the current practices that we suffer from every day.

Clear as mud, right? Well, let me paraphrase: his "people" understand that when the U.S. and Israel talk about the danger of terrorism, it's only an excuse for the "occupation" (status quo), whereas the real terrorism is the suffering that Israel inflicts on the poor defenseless palestinian arabs every day.

See, that one was garbled up on purpose, because it wasn't intended to be understood by Bush and Condi or the American listening public. It was intended to be a wink to those poor defenseless palestinian arabs rioting in Jenin and demonstrating with the encouragement of Hamas in Gaza. It was intended to let them know that when Abbas says he's committed to combatting chaos, violence and terrorism, what he means is that he's still committed to the "liberation struggle" against Israel. He's been saying this for a while. Is anybody listening?

And now, the speech makes more sense. The wink is always there. It was always there in Arafat's speeches, starting the day after the Oslo handshake and it continues today. Nothing's changed.