“Mr. Abbas, your actions belie your words.”

Par Beryl Wajsman le 28 avril 2014

We write this on Monday, April 28th,  the day the world commemorates the Holocaust. We just attended a ceremony at City Hall at which Mayor Denis Coderre led the Montreal commemoration of  “To every person there is a name.” This an annual event organized by B’nai B’rith in Montreal. Names of some of the six million Jews slaughtered by the Nazis are read out together with their age, place of residence and place of murder. This ceremony takes place in almost all major cities in the western world. Mayor Coderre was accompanied by much of Montreal’s political leadership. He was eloquent, empathetic and emotive. His words and feelings were sincere and authentic.

As we left however, our thoughts turned to another part of the world. A part of the world where words do not always ring with authenticity. A part of the world where President Kennedy’s warning that “Sincerity is always subject to proof” must be the litmus test. Our thoughts turned to the recent deeds and words of Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority.

At almost every opportunity over the past years, Mr. Abbas has claimed that Israel’s Netanyahu administration is not seriously pursuing the peace process. He has claimed that even the building of apartment blocks in Jerusalem’s suburbs are proof of that. For his part, Mr. Netanyahu has claimed that the peace talks get stalled because there is “no real partner for peace.” It is clear that Mr. Netanyahu has been right.

Poignantly, last week, days before the civilized world began commemorations of the slaughter of the Jews, Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah government – which controls the West Bank - signed a deal with Hamas which controls Gaza. Abbas had pledged not to deal with his sworn enemy. Hamas had not only killed over 1000 Fatah members in its takeover of Gaza in a supposed “open” election, but has consistently refused to recognize the State of Israel. Just five days ago Hamas even re-iterated that it “questions” the extent and veracity of what happened in the Holocaust.

When Netanyahu  said over the years that there was no partner for peace, he meant two things. First, that Abbas so feared for his physical security and his power in the face of Hamas threats, that he could not make peace even if he wanted to. Second, that behind Abbas’ rare words of reconciliation, lay no real will for peace. World reaction to the Abbas-Hamas deal has been almost uniformly negative. 

Perhaps in reaction to the condemnation by world leaders, Abbas tried to pull a rabbit out of his hat. This past weekend, in the days leading up to International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Abbas issued a statement calling the Holocaust the “greatest crime of the modern era.” He wants us to believe that he finally recognizes and condemns the original Holocaust, while just having signed a deal with an organization that instigates and incites for another one. Well, in the words of a great old American politician, “That dog won’t hunt.”

Netanyahu has offered Abbas yet another chance. He stated on international television that if Mr. Abbas is truly sincere, that if he wants his sentiments about the Holocaust to be taken at face value, then he has a clear choice. Tear up the agreement with Hamas. Recognize the State of Israel. And make peace.

Abbas always had a choice. The Palestinian Authority has had Israel’s support from the beginning. Not only does Israel subsidize the social, medical and educational system of the PA, it gave the PA police tens of thousands of arms. Wherever one stands on the issue of the West Bank – and reasonable people can disagree on the international legal right of holding land (obtained in defense to aggression as Israel did) for peace, as opposed to settling that land as well -  one set of facts is incontestable. Thanks to Israel’s help, the Palestinian Authority has the lowest infant mortality rate in the Arab world, the highest percentage of university students in the Arab world  and social and health benefits almost equal to those of Israelis. Abbas has a proven partner for peace.

Israel has not only talked the talk, it has walked the walk. It has taken talent and treasure from its own citizens and helped the Palestinian Authority. Abbas turned his back on the one proven partner for peace to side with an outlaw organization considered terrorists by most western governments. Abbas’ actions belie any words of empathy he may have uttered on the Holocaust. And it is by his actions that he must be judged. And at this moment of moral crisis, so to the actions of world leaders should be judged.

Prime Minister Harper’s clear and candid stand with a sister democracy in his recent visit to Israel should now be mirrored by all leaders in the family of the free. Abbas’ actions have brought into stark relief the words of Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor. He once stated that, “ The only thing more deafening than the sirens that go off in Israel when a rocket is fired at it, is the international community’s silence.” In these days of memory, let us remember this warning.

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Editorial Staff

Beryl P. Wajsman

Redacteur en chef et Editeur

Alan Hustak

Senior Editor

Daniel Laprès

Redacteur-adjoint

Brigitte Garceau

Contributing Editor

Robert J. Galbraith

Photojournaliste

Roy Piberberg

Editorial Artwork

Mike Medeiros

Copy and Translation

Val Prudnikov

IT Director and Web Design

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