World leaders from the United Nations to the European Union to the German government and the U.S. are publicly condemning a speech Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave this week as “anti-Semitic,” “vile,” “ugly” and “unacceptable.” Personally, I can’t remember such governments ever rebuking the Palestinian leader in such strong and unified terms.
And in another unprecedented development, the editorial board of the New York Times is now calling on the 82-year old Abbas — currently serving the 13th year of his four year term — to step down and give the Palestinian people the opportunity for a new leader “with energy, integrity and vision.”
Nickolay E. Mladenov, the U.N.’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process: “Such statements are unacceptable, deeply disturbing and do not serve the interests of the Palestinian people or peace in the Middle East….Leaders have an obligation to confront anti-Semitism everywhere and always, not perpetuate the conspiracy theories that fuel it.”
- Statement issued by the European Union: “The speech Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered on 30 April contained unacceptable remarks concerning the origins of the Holocaust and Israel’s legitimacy. Such rhetoric will only play into the hands of those who do not want a two-state solution, which President Abbas has repeatedly advocated.”
- Heiko Mass, the German Foreign Minister “condemned a speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which he claimed that the Holocaust was the result of Jews’ own ‘social behavior’ rather than anti-Semitism,” reported Agence France Presse and the Times of Israel. “Heiko Maas tweeted that Germany was responsible for ‘one of the worst crimes in history,’ and, ‘therefore, we must respond resolutely to any anti-Semitic expression,’ he said, linking to an article about Abbas’s Monday night speech.”
Jason D. Greenblatt, the U.S. Middle East envoy: “President Abbas’ remarks yesterday in Ramallah at the opening of the Palestinian National Congress must be unconditionally condemned by all. They are very unfortunate, very distressing & terribly disheartening. Peace cannot be built on this kind of foundation.”
- John F. Kerry, the former U.S. Secretary of State under President Obama: Mr. Abbas’ comments were “wrong, ugly, and unacceptable — anywhere from anyone — but particularly from anyone who says he wants to be a peacemaker….No excuses for anti-Semitism — words to be condemned, not explained away.”
- Daniel Shapiro, the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and senior Middle East advisor to President Barack Obama: “He’s blown up bridges for his own personal participation in the efforts to achieve Palestinian political aspirations. His time as a Palestinian leader who can be considered a possible partner for any kind of peace negotiation is over.”
As noted, the editorial board of the New York Times — long a harsh critic of the Israeli government and sympathizer with Mr. Abbas — made the stunning decision to call the Palestinian leader to step down. Excerpts:
- “Feeding reprehensible anti-Semitic myths and conspiracy theories in a speech on Monday, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, shed all credibility as a trustworthy partner if the Palestinians and Israelis ever again have the nerve to try negotiations….
- Mr. Abbas’s anti-Semitic tendencies are not new. In the 1980s, he wrote a dissertationthat seemed to question the widely accepted Holocaust death toll of six million Jews….
“Mr. Abbas, who oversees a governing system plagued by corruption and dysfunction, has lost support among the Palestinian people.
“He has weakened government institutions that are essential for a future state and refused to call new elections, thus overstaying his term by many years and preventing younger leaders from emerging.
“He has also failed to unify the Palestinians in the West Bank, where his Fatah faction dominates, with those in the even more desperate circumstances of the Gaza Strip, where Hamas holds sway.
:Even in this gloomy climate, however, Mr. Abbas’s vile speech was a new low. No doubt he feels embittered and besieged on all sides. But by succumbing to such dark, corrosive instincts he showed that it is time for him to step down.”
Please pray for Mr. Abbas, his family and his advisors. Please pray, too, for the Palestinian people both in the West Bank and in Gaza, where they live under the slavery and tyranny of Hamas. God loves the Palestinian people, and so must we. They need better. They deserve better. May the Lord show them much grace and mercy.