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How do you make peace with a hater?

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 77th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, Sept. 23, 2022. (Photo: REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs)

They say that you make peace with enemies and not friends. But is a hater even capable of becoming a peace partner?

Recent headlines read: “Abbas: Hitler killed Jews because of their usury; they aren’t Semites.”

During a speech to the Fatah Revolutionary Council on Aug. 24, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority made the shocking statement, which drew harsh criticism from many. U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt said she was appalled and called for an immediate apology for his hateful remarks. German Ambassador, Stephan Seibert, likewise, commented that it was “an insult to the memory of millions of murdered men, women and children.”

His twisted logic was that Ashkenazi Jews came from Europe, therefore, disqualifying them as Semites. However, their origin, as all Jews, was from the Middle East, a fact that Abbas well knows but has chosen to deny. His comment, regarding the reason Hitler killed Jews, equally has no basis in reality. The long-held trope, claiming Jews are greedy and have all the money, stereotypes an entire people and has been used for centuries to vilify them. 

In fact, an exhibit, in the Jewish Museum of London, traces the origins of this trope, beginning with the betrayal of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, paid to Judas. “By 1233, financier Isaac of Norwich was depicted as a hook-nosed Antichrist with an exaggeratedly pointed beard. By 1290, Edward I would expel all of the Jews and confiscate their wealth.”

During the Middle Ages, the association continued to be made between Jews and money, but the real truth is that Jews, scattered throughout the world by that time, were frequently prevented from owning land. To earn a living, some Jews resorted to high-interest lending, mostly because Christians were prohibited from doing so. Later, in the 1500s, this canard was also adopted by William Shakespeare in his play, The Merchant of Venice, through his fictional depiction of the Venetian Jewish moneylender Shylock, the ugly, greedy protagonist.

It wasn’t long before the expression, “To Jew someone down,” became a well-known phrase related to bargaining with someone in order to get a better price. With the advent of modern society, one would think that such anti-Jewish characterizations would be long gone. After all, many Jews are far from wealthy, and here in Israel, that’s true, not only among the ultra-Orthodox but also among a significant number of secular Israelis who live below the poverty line.  

Yet, that never stopped individuals such as U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from inferring that the influence of the Israel lobby, as it relates to lawmakers is, “all about the Benjamins,” another way of saying it’s all about money, a reference to the $100 bill which portrays Benjamin Franklin’s image. Omar's only defense was to claim that she “wasn’t aware of the fact that there are tropes about Jews and money.” If that is so, why didn’t she offer some other interpretation for the hateful comment? I think we all know the answer to that.

But Mahmoud Abbas even goes one step further to disqualify the Jewish people by saying, “European Jews had no historic ties to the land of Israel, as documented in the Bible because they were descended from a Turkish-linked tribe known as the Khazars, many of whose members had converted to Judaism.” Of course, his theory has never been supported by any evidence whatsoever. His claim, however, points the finger at the United States and Great Britain for having taken Palestinian land and appropriating it to the Jewish people.

The irony is that, while Abbas supposedly is in favor of a two-state solution, his libelous distortion of history says otherwise. In essence, he is advocating for the notion that there should have never been an Israel and that through the intervention of other nations, “Palestinian” land was expropriated.  

Another of his absurd claims was that Israel did not make the desert bloom.  He claims Palestine was already a desert, and they made it blossom into a paradise. Apparently, he’s not familiar with the well-known comment made by the famous writer, Mark Twain, who upon visiting the land of Israel in 1867, remarked: “Palestine is a hopeless, dreary, heart-broken land.” Doesn’t sound like much of a blossoming paradise!

So, is there any reason to believe that peace is possible with a man who uses Jewish tropes as an explanation, and probably even a justification in his heart of hearts, for the systematic murder of six million Jews? 

Perhaps it was poetic justice that just this past Thursday, the mayor of Paris “revoked the prestigious Medal of the City of Paris awarded to Mahmoud Abbas in 2013, due to his recent comments in which he expressed a ‘clear desire to deny the genocide to which the Jewish populations of Europe were victims at the hands of the Nazi regime.’”

Rather than completely denying the existence of the Holocaust, Abbas cleverly discovered a way to exonerate Hitler stating, “They say that Hitler killed the Jews for being Jews. Not true. Hitler fought the Jews because they were dealing with users and money.”

How much hate does your mind have to contain in order to include an estimated 1.5 million Jewish children who also perished alongside their parents? Would they all not have escaped their horrible fate if they had the vast amount of wealth that he claims they possessed?

So, the question is, “How is peace forged with someone who claims that his people’s land was appropriated to others, who have no claim to it nor even have Semitic roots?” These are not the words of a potential partner for peace.  

For now, Israel has the support of the European Union, which has strongly condemned Abbas’ comments, stating they were “false and grossly misleading.” True to form, though, the United Nations has still yet to weigh in on Abbas’ deplorable and unforgivable comments. Of course, they could have denounced him for a speech he gave at the UN in May when he, yet again, spouted deeply inflammatory remarks, comparing Israel to Nazis, but it follows his other similar UN speeches which received no condemnation.

It's becoming clearer and clearer that Mahmoud Abbas is incapable of making peace with Israel, clouded by his great hatred and revision of Jewish history. The sooner all nations realize that, the more realistic everyone’s expectations will be that it’s simply not possible to make peace with a hater!

A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.

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