By Khalid Amayreh
3 July 2008
Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, holds a number of
key portfolios of immense significance and symbolism.
He is the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO), President of the Palestinian ‘national’ Authority
(PA) and Chief of the Fatah organization.
As such, he ought to strive to represent his tormented
people in the best possible manner. He should also make
every possible effort to eloquently and effectively
communicate to the world at large the Palestinian people’s
pains and grievances as well as their hopes for freedom and
liberation from the manifestly criminal Israeli occupation.
More to the point, Abbas should carefully shun any behavior
that would harm his people’s dignity, image and national
Indeed, these are the most elementary tasks a leader, let
alone a leader of a people languishing under a sinister
foreign military occupation, is expected to perform.
However, Abbas’s diplomatic behavior doesn’t suggest that
he is the best and most effective representative of the
Palestinian people and cause. In fact, the opposite seems
to be true.
This week, while attending the 23rd congress of the
Socialist International at the Lagonissi Grand Resort in
Greece, Abbas was audacious enough to introduce Iraqi
President Jalal Talabani to Israeli war minister Ehud
Talabani and Barak shook hands rather cordially as a
visibly satisfied Abbas was looking on. The Palestinian
leader behaved as if the arranged handshake between the
certified Israeli war criminal and the Iraqi President was
merely part of the diplomatic niceties expected in such
Well, since when have Palestinian leaders assumed the role
of encouraging and expediting normalization between Arab
states and Israel which continues to rape Palestine and
savage its people?
Have we lost our sense of dignity as individuals and as a
The shameless encounter in Greece, though symbolic, did
carry a horrible message. It showed that Israel and Arab
regimes can normalize relations, even publicly, while the
Zionist regime continues to torment the Palestinian people
and steal the remainder of their homeland.
What is particularly scandalous though is that all of this
obscenity occurs with Palestinian blessing and
encouragement. This is more than outrageous.
I don’t know what was going on in Abbas’s mind when he
decided to do what he did. Perhaps he thought, out of sheer
naiveté, that the vacuous gesture would prompt Israel to
display more flexibility in the moribund ‘peace talks’ with
Or perhaps he thought that he as ‘President of Palestine’
ought to show courtesy, civility and even cordiality to
Israeli leaders regardless of their murderous, cruel and
humiliating treatment of his people.
But in both cases, Abbas can’t be given the benefit of the
doubt, for many reasons.
Abbas, as a long-time PLO leader, should be fully aware of
the brutal ugliness of the Israeli mentality and the fact
that no amount of ‘normalization’ and courtesy by the Arabs
and Muslims would make the racist entity come to terms with
Palestinian rights or even mitigate its terror and ethnic
cleansing against the Palestinian people.
Israel has succeeded in establishing diplomatic and
economic relations with a large number of Arab states,
including Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Tunisia,
Morocco and Mauritania.
However, far from showing good will toward these states,
Israel stepped up its genocidal drive throughout the
occupied territories, continued stealing Arab land and
building Jewish colonies at the expense of the native
In addition, Abbas’s behavior in Greece reflected a great
deal of national irresponsibility. As President of the PA,
Abbas should have understood that socializing with Israeli
leaders and embracing them warmly before TV cameras would
create the wrong impression and send the wrong message to
people around the world, especially friends and supporters
of the Palestinian cause.
One doesn’t have to be a great expert in PR to realize that
the scenes of Abbas and other PA leaders exchanging kisses
with Israeli leaders give the erroneous impression that all
is well between Israel and the Palestinians and that only
minor psychological problems stand in the way of peace
between the two sides.
In the final analysis, Israel and the US, our tormentors,
would hector the Arabs to normalize relations with Israel
by arguing that “you can’t be more Palestinian than the
Some Palestinians may argue that Abbas has to behave
somewhat sycophantically toward the Israelis in order to
safeguard his people’s interests.
However, it is amply obvious that this reasoning is faulty
since the damage done to the Palestinian cause, and
especially to the Palestinian national dignity, exceeds by
far whatever short term ‘benefits’ Abbas and his regime
might stand to reap from appeasing the Zionist leadership.
Besides, should Abbas not realize that arranging
‘Arab-Israeli encounters’ serves only to divert attention
from wanton Israeli crimes, such as the unmitigated
obliteration of the Arab identity of East Jerusalem and
ongoing efforts to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque.
Interestingly, while Abbas has shown no remorse or regret
or even embarrassment for arranging the Talabani –Barak
handshake, the office of the Iraqi president has issued a
‘clarification’ tacitly blaming Abbas for presenting Ehud
Barak to shake hands with Talabani ‘who responded to
President Abbas’ request.’
The statement said Talabani shook hands with Barak “not as
President of Iraq, but rather in his capacity as President
of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Vice
President of the Socialist International (IS).”
Despite its flimsiness, the statement showed that Arab
leaders are still apprehensive about appearing in public
with Israeli officials.
This trend ought to be encouraged and enforced as there
should be no normalization between Zionist criminals and
their Palestinian victims at least until the victims
recover their rights, including the right to return to
their homeland from which they were uprooted by force at
the hands of diabolical Zionism.
It is really sad that until recently Palestinians left no
stone unturned in order to stop any form of normalization
between Israel and the Arab and Muslim world.
Now, however, it is lamentable that some Palestinian
leaders have become the bridge through which Israel is
normalizing relations with the Arab world.
Have we become our own worst enemies?