I understand that Mahmoud Abbas, or Abu Mazen, is not a righteous gentile. He doesn’t have the welfare of Israel or the Jewish people uppermost in his mind. In fact, he holds great resentment against this country. And as far as his attitude toward Jews goes, he wrote a disgusting revisionist history of the Holocaust for his doctoral thesis in 1982 – but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and accept what he said 21 years later. “Whan I wrote (the thesis), we were at war with Israel. Today I would not have made such remarks,” he said, calling the Holocaust “a terrible, unforgiveable crime against the Jewish nation.”
Still, he’s not a “friend” of the Jewish people, and he sure as hell doesn’t believe in the right of Jewish statehood in this land, which I do. I’m sure I have a million disagreements with him about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mahmoud Abbas is no “leader” of mine or of any Zionist, no matter how progressive. But more than anybody else – more than any Israeli in power or in the opposition, more than Barack Obama or any other world leader – he is serving the most important, urgent goal of the Jewish state, which is to end the occupation and clear the way for Palestinian sovereign independence.
Abbas has been serving this goal peacefully since at least 1993, when he played the key role in delivering the Oslo Accords. Yet in this past Jewish year 5771, he’s not only kept the peace in the West Bank – as he has ever since taking over as president from Yasser Arafat – he’s also had two other huge achievements. The first was in turning Hamas into his distinctly junior partner since the Palestinian “unity” agreement of May. The second came last week at the UN, when he shamed the occupation, the right-wing Israeli government that maintains it, and the hopelessly compromised U.S. president who enables it. Abbas has now ot Israel, America and Europe trying to defend the indefensible. At home, he’s started what really does show signs of a “Palestinian Spring.” He’s got lots Palestinians believing that non-violence and diplomacy can get them their freedom.
I’ll ask every Zionist who believes the occupation is destroying the Jewish, democratic state: Who has done more, whether out of primary or collateral purpose, to prevent that destruction over the past year? If we once put our hopes on Obama, we don’t anymore. If some of us looked to Livni, that’s over, too. As for the new great white hope, Labor’s Sheli Yechimovitch, she’s the best there is on the socioeconomic agenda, but she’s also made it her business to let Israelis know that she does not intend to be the leader of any peace camp. There is no leader of the Israeli peace camp, and no help coming from America, Europe or anyplace else.
Who, then, has done more for Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic country, who has breathed life into the two-state solution when every other politician has either run out of breath or done his best to sabotage that supreme goal? No one. Without meaning to, Mahmoud Abbas emerged during the Jewish year 5771 as this country’s best hope. Or maybe its only hope. Either way, from a purely Zionist point of view, I wish him nothing but mazel tov.