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January 2005   
Abbas & Arafat Cut From Same Cloth By Steve Yuhas

From Washington

Commentary Abbas & Arafat Cut From Same Cloth Commentary by Steve Yuhas January 11, 2005

Palestinians elected Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu Mazen) to succeed Yasser Arafat. Many believe that Abbas is the answer to peace in the region; unfortunately, he is cut from the same cloth as Arafat.

Abbas is not as publicly militant as Arafat was; he has even called for the ending of violence against innocent Israeli citizens (the word innocent is key as many Palestinians, including Hamas, believe that nobody in Israel is innocent). Statements he has made over the course of many years reveals the man behind the façade of rationality as a man who cares little about peace and even less about Israel.

In 1982 Abu Abbas wrote his thesis The Secret Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement where he stated that the actual number of Jews killed during WWII was “less than one million” and that the Nazi’s collaborated with Jews in the slaughter.

In 1984 he went on to say that there were no gas chambers used to rid the Reich of the bodies (those things at Auschwitz are simply myths of our imagination as are the pictures, I presume).

The good politician he is forced him to recant his various views on the Holocaust and became one of the first Palestinians to recognize the right of Israel to exist (how nice of him) that fact alone makes him unable to be a partner in the peace process.

Anyone who had to “change their mind” into believing that the Holocaust happened and that a nation has the right to exist is someone that cannot be trusted to engage in serious negations with a nation he once believed should be pushed into the sea.

Israel has stayed out of the political process and allowed many of the candidates almost unfettered access to areas they normally would not be permitted and has offered them security – Abbas, forever a politician, turned it down.

One does not have to go back to the 80’s and 90’s to find statements by the man so many are looking to for a peaceful partner in the region to find examples of why his election will change very little in Palestinian – Israeli relations. In fact, one doesn’t have to go back even a week.

On the Tuesday before Sunday’s election Abbas declared Israel, "the Zionist enemy,” a favorite term for leaders in the region who desire the destruction of Israel, not peace; and in keeping with Arafat’s and Hamas’ definition of those who kill Israeli citizens he referred to them as “martyrs.”

Does this sound like a man who wants peace with Israel or someone who wanted to get elected to continue fighting against her?

Many in the press and the PLO claimed that the rhetoric was being used for campaign purposes, but not only is an absurd claim given Abbas’ history with regard to the Holocaust and the work and views he expressed under Arafat, but even Israel didn’t buy it. Silvan Shalom, Israeli Foreign Minister, said, “We cannot accept the argument that Abbas' statements stem from campaigning motives.”

In the days leading up to the election Abbas was carried on the shoulders the Fattah Party’s militant Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Hamas after giving a speech where he called on Palestinians not to fight one another and said of the terrorists, "They are freedom fighters . . . and should live a dignified and safe life."

He then added the disgusting comment that the Palestinians “owed a debt” to terror groups and people who killed Israelis.

Abbas’ statements regarding Israel being a Zionist enemy, his use of the word martyr to describe people who kill Israelis, his arguments to his electorate that demands the control of East Jerusalem (Jerusalem being the capital of Israel – imagine if England demanded control of the northern region of Washington, D.C.), the return to 1967 borders after Israel was attacked by her Arab neighbors and a right of Palestinians to flood Israel in the undefined and unsustainable “right of return” all make Abbas no different than Arafat and someone who will become a detriment to the Palestinian people.

So now Abbas takes his spot at the table where Arafat used to sit. Let us hope that one day there will be a reasonable Palestinian who will come to the table without campaigning on the shoulders of terrorists and who doesn’t have to clarify his position on the right of Israel to exist.

That day is not today and the election of Abbas to replace Arafat is little more than a changing of the guard instead of an alteration of the message.

Steve Yuhas is a columnist and radio talk show host on KOGO AM 600 in San Diego.