Opinion |

One Day We’ll Thank Mahmoud Abbas

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after a Palestinian leadership meeting in Ramallah, January 22, 2020
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after a Palestinian leadership meeting in Ramallah, January 22, 2020Credit: Majdi Mohammed/AP
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

In October 1939, after Nazi Germany occupied Poland, Adolf Hitler declared in the Reichstag that the West should avoid war because now that the Polish state had collapsed, the reason France and England had declared war – Germany’s attack on Poland – was null and void. According to “Goebbels, A Biography,” by Peter Longereich, Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propagandist, called this speech “a masterpiece of diplomacy.”

Now, 80 years later, has adopted a similar approach. After he moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem he declared that the problem of Jerusalem – the core of the lovely conflict – was off the table, and there were those who were impressed by this magician who with a blink of an eye could make problems disappear. Now he wants to eliminate the Palestinian problem from the list of the universe’s problems. You want a Palestinian state? So there’ll be one, but it will be like a game, which in the evening the Israeli master will fold up and put away in a cardboard box for tomorrow.

The whole world thinks Trump is crazy, and in America the masses, apparently even those who voted for him, see in him the embodiment of evil, stupidity and arrogance. But here? Here they bow down to him and treat him with awe because of the legitimacy he has conferred on occupation and . They don’t want to anger him.

The prevailing assumption in Israel is that the more are oppressed, the better it is for the Jews. But there is no more mistaken assumption than this. Without achieving justice – relative, not absolute – the conflict will get more violent and destructive. Perhaps it will seem for a moment that deprivation is worthwhile for those doing the depriving, but it won’t be long before things go awry. Because injustice is contrary to human nature.

The primary obstacle right now to the Trump peace plan is , whose official title is Palestinian Authority president, but whose practical title is No.1 prisoner in the huge Israeli prison. The real Israeli Arabs (that is, Saudi Arabia and its ilk), threatening to turn off the taps, the Israelis threaten to annex more land from the little that’s left, the Americans have already cut their support for UNRWA, Palestinian hospitals and more, and even the good Jews and Arabs urge him to be a bit more flexible, because you still have to play the game. But he’s standing firm.

It’s worth remembering that in 2016 the world held its breath after From afar it looked as if a cash tsunami was about to flood the region and only a fool wouldn’t want to join the party. Stone-faced analysts explained that what the ordinary Palestinian needs is money, not respect. It should also be remembered that Abbas jumped on the opportunity and cooperated up until the last minute. Perhaps he told himself that something could still result from this strange man who wants to break all the molds. But the first “something” that happened was the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem, and the rest is history.

And so it turns out that Abbas, who opposed an armed intifada and sought to conduct a nonviolent popular struggle, isn’t a chick that hasn’t grown its feathers yet, as Ariel Sharon once described him, but rather a very determined man. This man, who needs the permission of a junior clerk in the military government to leave his Muqata headquarters in Ramallah, is comparable in power to the omnipotent U.S. president: When the economic conference took place in Bahrain, and the groom, Abbas, failed to show, the conference turned into a farce that embarrassed the Arab world.

The Palestinians, who have lots of experience with promises from the Arab world, Israel and the Americans, say, “Whoever marries a monkey for his money, the money will go but the monkey will remain,” and from Trump they aren’t even seeing any money. The Israelis will yet thank Abbas for freeing them from their insane illusions about America and forcing them to deal with reality.