In October 1522, Machiavelli gave some valuable advice to a colleague about to become ambassador to Spain. He suggested that if it sometimes becomes necessary to conceal facts with words then it should be done in such a manner that no one becomes aware of it. It is obvious that Mahmoud Abbas, now in the tenth year of his four-year term as President of the Palestinian Authority, is familiar with this principle. It was clear he had become a disciple of Machiavelli when he delivered his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 26, 2014.
President Abbas spoke of his commitment to achieve a just peace with Israel through a negotiated solution and an adoption of a diplomatic and political effort by UN bodies. Although speaking from a seemingly peaceful perspective, he was actually acting on Machiavelli’s advice, or speaking under the influence of the Chicago school of philosophy for whom the words of writers may have multiple or layered meanings, often disguised with irony and even self-contradiction.
Abbas was concealing his true thoughts except from careful listeners at the UN and elsewhere. He began his speech by declaring that Israel had chosen to make 2014 a year of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people. Careful listeners knew his seemingly peaceful words covered his true meaning. They knew he was referring surreptitiously either to Hamas, the Palestinian terrorists eager to kill Jews and eliminate the State of Israel, or to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria which is conducting a Nakba (catastrophe) to destroy the infidels of the world, or to Turkey which has denied the genocide committed since 1915 against the Armenians.
It is important to unveil the real thoughts of Abbas in other areas of his speech. The Fatah Palestinian president pretended to be concerned about Israeli actions during its Operation Protective Edge, a self-defense action against the incessant assault of Hamas rockets and missiles. He mentioned half a million people displaced from their homes and the destruction of homes, schools, hospitals, public buildings, and mosque. But careful observers are aware he was really addressing issues in other areas, in Hamas-occupied Gaza, Syria, Nigeria, and Turkey.
Abbas spoke of a series of absolute war crimes in Gaza carried out by Israel before the eyes and ears of the entire world. He left unspoken the reality that the war crimes had been committed by Hamas by using Palestinian civilians, including children, as human shields and using children to build the underground tunnels, causing the deaths of 160 of them. By implication, Abbas referred to this when he said, “we will not forgive, and we will not allow war criminals to escape punishment.”
In his speech, Abbas alluded to the slaughter in the civil war in Syria and the widespread torture and terror there. His serious audience knew that more than 200,000 people have been killed as a result of the war that has also lead to 6.5 million people being displaced and 3 million refugees. He recognized that these numbers were several times larger than the Palestinians displaced as a result of the Arab aggressive wars against Israel.
Abbas deliberately praised the “honorable Commissioner-General of UNRWA.” He was really reminding his audience that UNRWA has active and extensive ties with Hamas. At least four of its schools and facilities in the Gaza Strip were used to store rockets and were the sites of rocket launching. Indirectly, Abbas affirmed the conclusion of UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon that these facilities had become legitimate military targets for Israeli air strikes. Listeners could remember that 25 of the 27 members of the workers union board of UNRWA were members of Hamas. The Obama Administration could remember that the U.S. is the largest single donor to this biased organization and has provided UNRWA with more than $5 billion since 1950.
Without obviously saying so, Abbas wanted the world to recall the genocide of Christians in Nigeria caused by Islamist terrorists and especially by Boko Haram. To limit discussion simply to the year 2014 of which Abbas spoke, these terrorists have committed acts amounting to attempts at genocide. These acts have included, since February, the killing of hundreds in Christian villages. The Christians were trapped in nets and animal traps and were hacked to death, and buried in mass graves. Further attacks took place in boarding schools in the north Borno state in February, on government offices, by bombs placed in a crowded bus station, and by killings in May and June in other Christian villages.
The serious listening audience was already aware of the most notorious act of Boko Haram, the abduction on April 14-15 of 276 female students from their school in Chibok, primarily a Christian town. Unfortunately, Abbas did not disclose the fate of these young women, whether they had been forced to convert to Islam, when they were made to have forced marriages, or had been sold as slaves.
Abbas obviously also had Turkey in mind when he spoke of genocide. Like many others Abbas is evidently surprised that Turkey still refuses to acknowledge both its murder of 1 to 1.5 million Armenians, though 23 countries and 42 states in the U.S. have recognized the fact, and also its attempt to eliminate the cultural and religious heritage of the Armenians. He is evidently also surprised that Turkey has refused to allow more significant rights to its large Kurdish population of about 14 million.
In this respect, Abbas spoke of occupation and historic injustice. He did speak aloud about Israel as a colonial occupying power, as a racist occupying state.
But he must really have been thinking of Turkey, which invaded the island of Cyprus in 1974. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which declared itself an independent state in 1983, now occupies 40 per cent of the island, which Abbas knows is an illegal occupation of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus. To use Abbas’ words referring to another country, so far Turkey has evaded accountability for its crimes.
Abbas spoke of the denial of freedom and independence of people for citizens of Gaza. Here he was clearly alluding to the situation in the Muslim country of Mauritania. Though a law was finally passed in 2007 making slavery a criminal offence, real slavery of 600,000 or 20 per cent of the population, still exists, the highest proportion of slaves in the population of any country in the world. The situation for these descendants of black African slaves is mainly in the form of chattel slavery, with individuals being bought, sold, rented out, or given as gifts.
President Abbas assumed that no one would wonder anymore why extremism, hatred, and terrorism is rising. He did not mention the gruesome beheadings of American and British journalists, but it was kind that he thus drew attention to the Islamic State and its barbarous activities that in Abbas’ language, are ongoing and escalating. He recognized the problems of ghettos on fragmented lands without borders under an army of occupation.
Abbas declared his support for those who stand for human values, freedom, justice, and peace. He did not mention Saudi Arabia specifically by name but Abbas did refer to the racism in the political and media discourse and its entrenchment in the school curriculum and in a series of laws and practices. He did speak openly of “the Israeli occupation… an abhorrent form of state terrorism,” but it was clear that indirectly he was praising Israel when talking of strengthening the values of citizenship, equality, the rule of law, human rights, the role of women and pluralism.
Of course, Abbas spoke openly of the need for peace. He must therefore have been disconcerted by the glorification by his Fatah group of female suicide bombers. Nine women have been honored in this way by the Fatah group. The most recent one is honored for her attack on September 22, 2014 when she blew herself up in Jerusalem, killing two Israeli security guards.
The Obama administration has found the provocative and offensive statements by Abbas about Israel deeply disappointing and counterproductive. Those statements certainly do not make him a partner for reasonable diplomatic discussions and are not the way to create a positive atmosphere in which peace negotiations between Israel and Arabs might occur. Nevertheless, we should be grateful to the seemingly permanently installed President Abbas for all his unstated allusions to the misdeeds of Islamic terrorists that are a threat to Western civilization.
First published in the American Thinker.