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Missed opportunity to ask PA leader meaty questions


Recently Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas met with Jewish community representatives in New York during his trip to the United Nations at a special dinner hosted by the S. Daniel Abraham Middle East Foundation for Peace.

Guests included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer; Alan Dershowitz, the Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard University; Wolf Blitzer, host of CNN’s The Situation Room; Congresswoman Nita Lowey; Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center; Nancy Kaufman, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women; Peter Joseph, president of the Israel Policy Forum; Daniel Lubetsky, founder of OneVoice; Eli Broad, founder of the Broad Foundation; Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize recipient; and Abby Joseph Cohen, board member of the Jewish Theological Seminary

That meeting provided a unique opportunity for Jews to ask probing questions of the veteran Palestinian Arab leader.

I forwarded the following suggested 10 questions for these Jews to pose to Abbas. What a shame that they would not ask these questions.

• Question 1: Ask Abbas about the new PA curriculum, which prepares the next generation to conquer all of ‘Palestine.’ Most recently, the Center for Near East Policy Research dispatched a TV crew to follow the classrooms of PA schools and PA summer camps in UNRWA facilities, where the center filmed teachings that did not focus on peace or reconciliation. Indeed, translations of the new PA schoolbooks yield the conclusion that they focused on a curriculum of “suspended war.” These films can be seen on the home page of http://www.IsraelBehindthenews.com

• Question 2: Ask Abbas about the news output of the PBC (Palestine Broadcasting Corporation) radio and TV, which operates under the direct control of Abbas. Ask about the daily messages of violent jihad conveyed by the PBC to the Palestinian Arab audience. Ask about the PBC adulation of Palestinians who committed suicide attacks. Ask about PBC news clips that laud attacks on Beersheba, Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod, which PBC terms “illegal Jewish settlements.” These Israeli cities, which have been subjected to missile fire, are situated on lands lost to the Arabs in 1948—not in 1967.

• Question 3: Why does UNRWA continue to confine thousands of descendants of Arab refugees to UNRWA refugee facilities, where they languish under the premise and promise of the “Right of Return” to villages that do not exist? Why doesn’t the new Palestinian Authority city, Rawabi, built near teeming UNRWA ‘refugee’ facilities, allow UNRWA camp residents to live there?

• Question 4: Ask Abbas about the popular Palestinian web-hosted computer program, PalestineRemembered.com, that operates throughout the PA, which helps Palestinians to locate the villages of their grandparents from 1948, even though these towns no longer exist, to prepare them for their “return.”

• Question 5: Ask Abbas about PA-controlled mosques and about the Friday incendiary messages conveyed by the mosques that function with PA funding and are under PA control.

• Question 6: What about new official maps published by the PA, which show all of Israel as part of any future Palestinian Arab state, where ‘Palestine’ actually replaces Israel, and where every Israeli city is transformed into a Palestinian Arab city?

• Question 7: What about the PA Security Force? Following the expectation that the PA security force would be engaged to crush Hamas, there are reports of extensive Hamas-PA cooperation.

• Question 8: Why hasn’t the the PA enacted laws against money laundering for terror groups? Why doesn’t the PA have statutes which define any group as a terrorist organization?

• Question 9: Ask Abbas whether he will remove his widely disseminated doctorate from the schools and libraries of the PA, since Abba’s thesis claims that Zionists worked together with the Nazis to murder Jews in World War II. Ask Abbas about his New Year’s speech in which he concludes his litany of praise for killers with a salute to the legacy of Hitler’s ally, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem.

• Question 10: Ask Abbas about his recent speeches, in which he conveys consistent praise for Palestinians who have murdered Jewish civilians in cold blood.

None of these questions were posed to Abbas by the Jewish dinner participants.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Albright did ask Abbas from the deis as to whether he would condemn the two recent Palestinian murders of Israeli soldiers which took place only the week before in Kalkilya and in Hebron.

Abbas responded in the affirmative and received an applause.

However, the official Arabic language Palestinian Authority media outlets: PBC TV, PBC Radio and the PA-controlled newspapers—Al Quds, Al Ayyam and Al Hayat Al Jadida—made no mention whatsoever of the statement that Abbas gave in condemnation of the recent Palestinian murders in Kalkilya and in Hebron.

What counts in conflict resolution is what leaders communicate to their own people in their own language.

The consistent absence of PA declarations for peace and reconciliation with Israel in the Arabic language in any Arab language media outlets remains a consistent policy that Arafat and now Abbas have implemented during the 20 years of the Oslo process provides no evidence of any PLO/PA expression of interest in peace and reconciliation in the Arabic language.

In that context, our agency forwarded a query to the S. Daniel Abraham Center to ask if Abbas would issue his condemnation in the Arabic language, to Arabic language media outlets of the PA.

Mr. Sobel, director of research for the S. Daniel Abraham Center, confirmed that he received my query. However, the S. Daniel Abraham Center would not respond to the question. After all, Abbas’s “condemnation” reached all of the media in Israel, even if the Palestinian media never heard these discouraging words from Abbas.

David Bedein is director of Israel Resource News Agency, Center for Near East Policy Research.


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