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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

March 10, 2003

The Abu Mazen Myth

The New York Sun points out the obvious
In a now-famous speech on June 24, 2002, President Bush said, “Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership.” He said, “I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty.”

Yasser Arafat’s latest response seems to have been to appoint Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, as prime minister.

It should be obvious that Abu Mazen doesn’t meet the tests Mr. Bush laid out in June. For one thing, he’s not “new and different.” On the contrary, he’s been a top figure in the Palestine Liberation Organization and a close aide to Mr. Arafat since 1980. Second, he has not been elected by the Palestinian people; he’s been appointed by the discredited leader, Mr. Arafat, whose encouragement of terrorism and “official corruption” were what prompted Mr. Bush to seek a change of the Palestinian Arab leadership to begin with.

Finally, Mr. Abbas’s commitment to “tolerance” is questionable. A host of groups, including the American Jewish Committee, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and the Zionist Organization of America, have criticized Mr. Abbas for his 1983 book, “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship between Nazism and the Zionist Movement.” A report from the Anti-Defamation League says that in the book, Mr. Abbas suggested that the figure of 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust was “peddled” by the Jews and that in fact “the Jewish victims may number six million or be far fewer, even fewer than one million.”

Mr. Bush was right in his June speech when he said peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership. Abu Mazen isn’t it.
It appears that the powers that be in both the US and Israel are prepared to overlook all this. Bad mistake. Just as they overlooked all the violations of the Oslo Accords by Arafat to their detriment, so here too, will they be compromised by not insisting on the requirements laid out.

And that's before we get to the issue of what his powers will be and who is he answerable to. (One guess, Arafat). The US would never permit a long time buddy of Saddam to take over as his appointee and shouldn't allow this to happen either. Its also a bad precedent.