Mahmoud Abbas is such a master of stretching the elasticity of the truth, such a perverter of language, that in ordinary circumstances you couldn’t help but admire his downright deluded chutzpah. This week he reminded us here at Europe Israel Public Affairs of Comical Ali, the information minister during the Iraq War, with his lies and deluded pronouncements.
But this is not something that we can laugh at. He is the Leader of Israel’s supposed partner in peace. He is supposed to represent Palestinian interests. In short he is supposed to be a statesman.
Instead, he continues to incite violence and terror, firstly by feeding Palestinian paranoia about Israel’s desire to change the status of the Temple Mount (something that is patently and unequivocally untrue, as Israel has repeatedly stated), secondly by lying about Israel murdering a teenager (said teenager is in fact being treated well in an Israeli hospital despite his attempt to murder in a stabbing attack), thirdly by his downright refusal to accept responsibility for starting the fire of violence and terror, and lastly, and perhaps most sinisterly, his continuing and frankly shameful refusal to condemn the attacks and call on them to end.
People on both sides are dying because of it.
This week we were also treated to another word bending extravaganza worthy of the world finest linguistic contortionist. These acts against innocent Israelis (including the stabbing of a 70 year grandmother at a bus stop) are deemed as “popular resistance”.
Now, when most people think of “popular resistance” they think of a strike, a picket line, a demonstration, or something like social protests. For Mahmoud Abbas scores of teenagers roaming the streets, shops, bus stops, trams, synagogues, restaurants, bars, schools, wherever to stab Jews (any Jew will do) is not attempted or wilful murder. Its not terrorism. Its popular resistance.
A Palestinian man ran into a group of orthodox Jews at a tram stop this week, got out and used a hatchet to hack at the injured. In this distorted Palestinian world, the assailant told his attorney (remember that Israel affords the basic human right to legal representation despite the lack of respect of human right shown by those committing such abhorrent crimes), that this was in fact…wait for it…A car accident. He had clearly learned a trick or two from his master in Ramallah.
What are European Leaders saying about this? They are urging both sides to restrain. Both sides. Is the lunacy of Abbas’s language so contagious that it has spread to the EU Institutions? Has political correctness got so bad and so twisted that the attempted murderer and the 70 year old are treated the same? As if she prompted the attack? Mr Abbas must be laughing to himself at such a false premise.
13 MEPs, all friends or members of EIPAs’ political advisory board, wrote last week to EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and European Parliament President Martin Schulz, urging them to send a strong and unambiguous message to Mahmoud Abbas that incitement to hatred and silence in the face of murder would not be tolerated by the Brussels institutions.
As of today, still nothing. Not even a courteous acknowledgement of the letter by democratically elected parliamentarians from across the political divide and across the continent. Mr Schulz delivered his state of the Union speech to the European Summit yesterday here in Brussels and didn’t even mention events in Jerusalem.
Despite all of this, despite a bewildered, afraid and traumatised Israeli public, may of whom are calling for a tough response, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again, and only yesterday, extended his invitation for peace talks with Mr Abbas, at a place of his choosing and without pre-conditions.
Like him or loathe him. Mr Netanyahu is showing statesmanship and solid political leadership.
One doesn’t expect any reciprocity from the Palestinian leader.
But one certainly does from Brussels. The fact that a strong statement is not forthcoming from the EU’s leadership, that outright murder is couched and downgraded through political language and that the aggressor is treated in equal terms as the victim, is indeed worthy of the late comical Ali.
Except nobody in Israel, nor indeed the hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Europe, are laughing.
Instead they feel nauseous. It feels to them like Israeli and Jewish lives don’t matter.
And Europe, right now, is doing nothing to prove that this is not, in fact, the case.
Alex Benjamin is the director of EIPA