The Trial of Mahmoud Abbas: Fanning the Flames of Incitement
by Gidon Ben-zvi
The two-state solution is dead. However, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent statement that peace talks with Israel will continue “regardless of what happens on the ground” has apparently staved off rigor mortis.
Yet, it was during this same interview that Abbas also called for an international probe to determine who killed former PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
And therein lies the conundrum: Abbas, anointed by the international community to end the Middle East conflict, libels his presumptive peace partner by perpetuating the canard that Israel poisoned one of the founders of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Lest this slur against an entire nation be dismissed as a mere slip of the tongue, incitement against the Jews and the Jewish state is part of daily life under Abbas’ Palestinian Authority.
Examples of how Abbas is preparing his people for peaceful coexistence with Israel include:
- Palestinian textbooks describe the land (from the river to the sea) as being comprised of Muslims and Christians. No mention is made of Jews or the centuries-old Jewish communities of Palestine. The city of Jerusalem is described as exclusively Arab. Israel is not recognized as a sovereign nation and all maps are labeled “Palestine.”
- Former United States Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, a major proponent of the two-state solution, has said that the Palestinian school books do “…not give Palestinian children an education, they give them an indoctrination.”
- Palestinian school books make no attempt to educate for peace or coexistence with Israel. Instead Israel’s right to exist is adamantly denied and the Palestinian war against Israel is presented as an eternal religious battle for Islam.
And recent history shows how costly a mistake it is to wait for a conflict to end before addressing the incitement that fuels it.
While the international tribunals held following the end of hostilities in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda set new precedents for the prosecution of incitement, these measures were taken only after the conflicts were over – too late to avert the damage wrought by incitement while war still raged.
As such, an application of international law to Mahmoud Abbas’ statements and actions demonstrates a compelling case for prosecution. He has a clear record of incitement to genocide as defined under the Genocide Convention and its application to date. Furthermore, Abbas’ Palestinian Authority has repeatedly sought to dehumanize Israelis and Jews. An especially egregious example of PA-sanctioned incitement is its perpetuation of the “Holocaust myth,” which remains rampant in Palestinian society – particularly in the education system and media.
Until the international community decides to charge Mahmoud Abbas with incitement to violence and genocide, we can expect a few more streets and town squares in the Palestinian Authority to be named after terrorists; a few more youth events to be held in honor of terrorists; and a few more Palestinian textbooks to portray a world without Israel.
And while the world’s powers continue to try to shock the flatlining peace process back to life, Israel is well within its rights as a sovereign nation to take any steps necessary to thwart the inevitable violent results of unchecked incitement.