Sunday, October 2, 2011

Analysis of Abbas's UN speech

For a while now, I hear people around me ask innocently "why shouldn't the Palestinians be recognized as a full member-state by the UN?" as if that's the solution to the whole Middle East Peace Process.

These people can go to lengths dissecting Netanyahu's speech, casting doubt on his willingness to go to negotiations, taking offense at his slightest criticism of the Palestinian Authority for the current status quo, and generally feeling that his concerns regarding terrorism and security are bordering on paranoia.

But place these people in front of Abbas's speech, and they can't find a thing to criticize. Oh yeah sure, he hasn't been the perfect negotiator, but he's the most secular leader the Palestinians are likely to get, or something just as apologetic.

You expect so little of me that I can get a standing ovation just by waving this wad of papers
Why is it that people have such low expectations of the Palestinian leadership? Raise the bar a bit, you're not doing them any favors by treating them like incompetent kindergartners.
The reason why the Palestinians and their chosen leaders are nowhere near ready is heard loud and clear, not in Netanyahu's speech, but in Abbas's. Abbas had an opportunity to speak up and reach out to the moderates in the Palestinian public, to those who strive towards coexistence. Instead he fed more anger and frustration to the continuous addiction the Palestinians seem to have for eternal victimization.

The whole speech is full of venom and angry repetitions of brutal words like "the occupying power", "colonial military occupation", "aggression" "racial discrimination", "confiscation", "annexation", "Nakba", "demolition", "displacement", "ethnic cleansing", "racist annexation wall", "apartheid policies", "Israeli obstacles", "tragedy", "horrors", "suffering", "uprooting", and I could go on and on (like he did basically).
Does this sound like someone who's ready to face reality, accept responsibility, and move forward?
Or like someone who can only play the victim?

Such a huge part of the speech was one long conscious lie, that it's hard to pull out some particular moments which mind baffling. However, here are some exceptionally hard-to-believe excerpts from the speech Abbas held at the UN last week:
The Question Palestine is intricately linked with the United Nations via the resolutions adopted by its various organs and agencies and via the essential and lauded role of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East - UNRWA - which embodies the international responsibility towards the plight of Palestine refugees, who are the victims of Al-Nakba (Catastrophe) that occurred in 1948.
Again and again with the Nakba. Does no one realize how offensive it is that they keep calling Israel's independence "the Catastrophe" ? Would the world be patient with us if we called the Palestinian independence (should its peaceful presence ever grace us) as The Disaster?
Notice also how he delicately points out that the plight of the Palestinian refugees is a responsibility of the international community, rather than the responsibility of the Arab countries who refused to absorb them and instead let them rot in refugee camps for ages in order to keep them as pawns against Israel.
A year ago, at this same time, distinguished leaders in this hall addressed the stalled peace efforts in our region. [...] We entered those negotiations with open hearts and attentive ears and sincere intentions, and we were ready with our documents, papers and proposals. But the negotiations broke down just weeks after their launch.
And why did the negotiations break down Mahmoud dear? It wouldn't have anything to do with the decision of President Mahmoud Abbas to stop peace talks with Israel due to the expiration of the 10 month Israeli freeze on West Bank construction, would it? Seems like someone has selective amnesia.
But all of these sincere efforts and endeavors undertaken by international parties were repeatedly wrecked by the positions of the Israeli government, which quickly dashed the hopes raised by the launch of negotiations last September.
You see, peace efforts weren't wrecked by the Palestinians' preposterous pre-conditions to negotiations. No no, they were wrecked by the evil Israeli's refusal to accept these pre-conditions. Because that's how negotiations work, you decide on the results before the actual negotiations.
This [settlement] policy will destroy the chances of achieving a two-State solution
Well of course if you decide that in advance, there isn't much hope, is there? The settlements are only an issue because you want them to be an issue.
All of these actions taken by Israel in our country are unilateral actions and are not based on any earlier agreements. Indeed, what we witness is a selective application of the agreements aimed at perpetuating the occupation. Israel reoccupied the cities of the West Bank by a unilateral action, and reestablished the civil and military occupation by a unilateral action, and it is the one that determines whether or not a Palestinian citizen has the right to reside in any part of the Palestinian Territory. 
Are you delusional? No new settlements have been built since the Oslo Agreements in 1993, in which both parties agreed to the subdivision of areas A, B and C. Nothing has changed since then, so what on earth are the actions which you consider to be unilateral?
In 1974, our deceased leader Yasser Arafat came to this hall and assured the Members of the General Assembly of our affirmative pursuit for peace, urging the United Nations to realize the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people, stating: “Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand”.
Suffering from Alzheimer perhaps? Are you forgetting that in his other hand, Arafat held the proverbial freedom fighter's gun? Are you subliminally implying that your unilateral declaration of independence is comparable to an olive branch, and that if it's not supported, you will turn to the freedom fighter's gun again?
When we adopted this [peace] program, we were taking a painful and very difficult step for all of us, especially those, including myself, who were forced to leave their homes and their towns and villages, carrying only some of our belongings and our grief and our memories and the keys of our homes to the camps of exile and the Diaspora in the 1948 Al-Nakba, one of the worst operations of uprooting, destruction and removal of a vibrant and cohesive society that had been contributing in a pioneering and leading way in the cultural, educational and economic renaissance of the Arab Middle East.
Funny how he glosses over the fact that Safed, where his family lived in 1948, was going to become the Jewish state according to the partition plan in any case. However, what more interesting is that Abbas chose to tell this story to the UN public, because most of them probably don't know that a few years ago Abbas recounted his story and admitted that his family left of their own free will.
How on earth are we supposed to build a peaceful future with this guy if he can't be truthful about our common history?
When division struck the unity of our homeland, people and institutions, we were determined to adopt dialogue for restoration of our unity. We succeeded months ago in achieving national reconciliation and we hope that its implementation will be accelerated in the coming weeks.
Unity? Don't make me laugh... This unity deal was signed a couple of months ago for the sole purpose of getting through the UN bid and giving the impression of unity which is already crumbling because Hamas is not interested in this unilateral bid.
The time has come to end the suffering and the plight of millions of Palestine refugees in the homeland and the Diaspora, to end their displacement and to realize their rights, some of them forced to take refuge more than once in different places of the world.
And for once, I agree with Abbas. Yes, it is time to end the refugees' plight. By letting them become citizens of the countries they're in. Refugees are not an unusual consequence of wars. In fact, most wars cause massive population dislocations. However, the Palestinians' refugee status is unique in that it is the only one which seems to be hereditary for generations, which is why they are now "millions". They have also not been accepted as citizens in hardly any of their host countries, even though they share the same language and customs and religion, for the sake of keeping them as pawns against Israel.

Dear President Abbas, why did you have to take this road of victimization? Were you so hungry for praise that you forgot you had a chance to make a difference in this world? Netanyahu, with all his flaws, has learned to let go of past grievances and has stretched out his hand for peace. Why can't you grab it?

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