May 17th, 2011



On today's NYT Op-Ed page, Mahmoud Abbas makes the case for why the UN should recognize a Palestinian state in September. It was egregious even by the standards of what the Palestinian leadership usually says to the West; on the other hand, it was good for him to say to us what he says to his own people.

Let's look. He starts by talking about the 1947 UN vote to divide British Mandate Palestine into two states: Israel and Trans-Jordan (now Jordan):

Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened.

"Arab armies intervened?" That's an interesting way to phrase it. How about "Minutes after the founding of the state of Israel, Arab armies attacked from all sides in an attempt to destroy the newborn state. Many Palestinians fled the land, intending to return after the Arabs had killed all the Jews; when Israel instead managed to survive, these Palestinians found themselves unable to return and unwelcome in the Arab states to which they had gone to wait out the war."

Yes, it's more complex than we were taught in Hebrew school in the 1970s. But it's certainly not true that Arab armies "intervened" in 1948 to address a humanitarian crisis.

Indeed, it was the descendants of these expelled Palestinians who were shot and wounded by Israeli forces on Sunday as they tried to symbolically exercise their right to return to their families’ homes.

"Symbolically exercise their right to return?" That's a pleasant way of putting it. From the pictures I saw, though, it looked more like a coordinated attempt to breach the internationally recognized borders of a sovereign country (we're not talking the Green Line here) with the intent to cause violence and attack its citizens. In other words, it was a hostile invasion. True, an invasion can be considered symbolic.

Minutes after the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, the United States granted it recognition. Our Palestinian state, however, remains a promise unfulfilled.

The word that's missing here is Jordan, which was the other state formed the partition of Mandate Palestine. Jordan is the fulfillment of the promise to the Palestinians. Well, except that the Jordanian government didn't actually fulfill its commitments. But you don't hear Abbas or the Palestinians publicly complaining about how they were expelled from Jordan after Black September.

We go to the United Nations now to secure the right to live free in the remaining 22 percent of our historic homeland

Again with the ignoring of Jordan.... [Edited to add: I just checked the numbers. 22% of Mandate Palestine is everything from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. He's not ignoring Jordan. He's claiming all of Israel as well as the "West Bank".]

We cannot wait indefinitely while Israel continues to send more settlers to the occupied West Bank and denies Palestinians access to most of our land and holy places, particularly in Jerusalem.

Excuse me? Who controls access to the Temple Mount? You have five-times-daily religious services on the holiest site in Judaism, and we can't even go up there, and you have the chutzpah to claim that the Jews deny the Palestinians access to "most of [your] holy places, particularly in Jerusalem"?!?


I know that a "two-state solution" is the only prospect for peace. I pray fervently for peace. But when I read this article by Abbas, my heart sank, because this is not the way to make peace. Israel is not completely blameless, certainly, but that is not the case that Abbas is making.

If this is the narrative that the Palestinians are teaching their children and the world, what chance does peace written on a scrap of paper have?