Anti-Semitic Echoes: Palestinian President Claims Israel ‘Colonial Project’

President Mahmoud Abbas. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Marco Castro

The supposedly moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas unleashed his true beliefs about Israel on Sunday in a government leadership meeting, citing an Egyptian author claiming Israel is a “a colonial project that had nothing to do with Judaism,” in an Arabic speech posted to the official WAFA Palestinian News Agency website, according to online English translations. Abbas’ claim directly contradicts the Hebrew Bible, in which the Land of Israel and its cities—especially Jerusalem—are repeatedly promised to the Jewish people.

Abbas told the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that “the functional nature of Israel means that colonization has taken it to do a certain job. A colonial project that had nothing to do with Judaism, but the Jews [were] used to be a tool.” The Palestinian leader, held by some as a partner for peace, went on to mention a litany of conspiracy theories, including claims that Europeans plotted 200 years ago to have Jews live in “Palestine” to defend European civilization and that the first prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, conspired with Iraqi politicians to force Iraqi Jews to immigrate to Israel because “they refused to come to Palestine.”

In reality, Jews were driven out of a number of Arab nations by Arabs and came to Israel as refugees, while Jews from Europe risked prison and death to move to Israel after the British placed restrictions on immigration. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday slammed the comments as not only grossly untrue, but tainted with anti-Semitism.

“What we heard yesterday from Mahmoud Abbas, was terrible. He returned back to the ideas he expressed decades ago, when they were no less terrible,” said Rivlin in comments released by his office. “To say Israel is the result of a Western conspiracy to settle Jews in land belonging to Arab populations? To say that that the Jewish people has no connection with the land of Israel? He forgot many things, and said exactly the things that led him to be accused years ago of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.”

Abbas wasn’t done there. He claimed that the Palestinians are the descendants of the Canaanites and falsely accused Zionism-founder Theodor Herzl of advocating Arab genocide to clear the land for the Jews and that Herzl even believed that anti-Semitism was helpful in driving Jews to move to Israel. Abbas also called upon the British to apologize and “provide compensation” for the Balfour declaration, which gave British support at the time for a Jewish homeland in Israel.

Not only were Abbas’ claims historically inaccurate, but Rivlin noted they even belie claims made in his own religious text, the Quran. As a result, Rivlin expressed grave concerns about the future of peace.

Said Rivlin, “These are precisely the things that block us. In his words he is rejecting our return to our homeland, even though Abu Mazen knows very well that the Quran itself recognizes the land of Israel as our land. Without this basic recognition we will not be able to build trust and move forward.”

While Abbas in his comments talked about wanting peace with Israel, the two-state solution and rejecting terrorism, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon expressed his own concerns about the peace process after Abbas’ rant, in which he also rejected the United States as a peace mediator. Said Danon on Twitter, “Mahmoud Abbas has once again answered serious initiatives for dialogue with vile lies about Israel and the United States. These hateful claims are sure to have repercussions and only dim the prospects for peace.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the statements show the truth about Abbas and the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a whole. Said Netanyahu of Abbas, “He has revealed the truth. He has torn off the mask and shown to the public the simple truth that I have been working to instill for many long years: The root of the conflict between us and the Palestinians is their steadfast refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any borders whatsoever.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, January 15, 2018)

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