Mahmoud Abbas isn’t shy about his rejection of the Jewishness of Israel. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again,” the Palestinian leader stated in 2011. “I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a ‘Jewish state.'”
Again in 2014, Abbas reiterated that he and his people will not “accept” the idea of a Jewish state. “The Palestinians won’t recognize the Jewishness of the State of Israel and won’t accept it,” he said. “The Israelis say that if we don’t recognize the Jewishness of Israel there would be no solution. And we say that we won’t recognize or accept the Jewishness of Israel and we have many reasons for this rejection.”
And yet again in 2015: “We won’t accept a Jewish state,” he told the PLO Central Council. A couple of sentences later, he added, “We are also against the Jewish state because of the many things it would mean in the future.”
He repeated in 2016 that the “Palestinian leadership categorically rejects the idea of a Jewish Israel.”
Enter today’s Op-Ed by Elhanan Miller in The New York Times, which speaks of Abbas’s purported acceptance of Israel’s Jewishness, and suggests that those who claim otherwise are manipulatively “concealing” the truth from the public.
Political leaders are often selective with the information they choose to share with the public. For Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that means choosing to conceal what he knows about the true position of the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Israel as a “Jewish state.”
The author claims that “Mr. Abbas already made this recognition of Israel’s Jewish character — more than two decades ago.” His evidence? Miller notes that in 1994, Abbas referred to the existence of a Jewish state in an interview with a London newspaper, saying of Israelis that “they have managed to establish a Jewish state in Palestine.”
So nearly 25 years ago, back when Nancy Kerrigan and Lorena Bobbitt and O.J. Simpson’s car chase dominated our headlines, long before Abbas became the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister and before he took over its presidency, he mentioned that “a Jewish state” existed.
Instead of acknowledging the depth of Abbas’s current rejection of a Jewish state, the piece presents readers with mealy mouthed language ducking — or is it concealing? — the issue.
“Some might say that Mr. Abbas accepts Israel’s Jewishness only as a fait accompli,” Miller writes, before dismissing any such hypothetical arguments as irrelevant. This doesn’t just miss the point. It brazenly misinforms readers about it. Mr. Abbas simply does not “accept” Israel’s Jewishness, and he has been the first to point this out.
“Why,” Miller asks elsewhere in the piece, “does Mr. Abbas now decline to restate his recognition of Israel as a Jewish state?” Again, the author obfuscates. Abbas doesn’t merely “decline to restate” his recognition. He pointedly rejects any recognition.