The problem isn’t that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a longtime Holocaust revisionist and anti-Semite. The problem is that he reflects the views of the people he represents.
In a speech before the Palestinian National Council on Monday, Abbas dropped the long-debunked, western-shaped facade that presented him as a “moderate” and spent the entirety of his address lashing out against the Jews. Citing Karl Marx, among others, Abbas justified the systematic worldwide persecution of Jews and justified the Holocaust as righteous punishment for the Jews’ supposed actions.
It has long been known that Abbas is a radical anti-Semite. Anyone who has paid attention to his writings and past speeches could decipher that he had persistent hostility toward Israel and its people. But knowing that his comments would sometimes be picked up by western media, Abbas usually crafted his speeches to target only “Zionists,” careful to make a distinction between them and Jews in general. However, this time, the Palestinian president, likely recognizing his dwindling support amongst his own people, again revealed his bigotry for the world to see.
And the legacy media was outraged, they’ll tell you. Op-eds published this week in the New York Times and other mainstream media outlets denounced Abbas and demanded that he step down and make way for a new, more progressive and tolerant Palestinian leader.
“Even in this gloomy climate, however, Mr. Abbas’s vile speech was a new low. No doubt he feels embittered and besieged on all sides. But by succumbing to such dark, corrosive instincts he showed that it is time for him to leave office,” the New York Times editorial board wrote. “Palestinians need a leader with energy, integrity and vision, one who might have a better chance of achieving Palestinian independence and enabling both peoples to live in peace.”
But what the virtue-signaling op-eds won’t tell you is that the current Palestinian societal framework tells a very different story. Take a peek behind the curtain, and you’ll come to recognize that Abbas, acknowledging his diminishing base, was attempting to reunite the Palestinian people behind him.
Palestinians are the most anti-Semitic people in the world. An Anti-Defamation League survey conducted in 2015 found that 93 percent of Palestinians harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. Moreover, 82 percent are either Holocaust revisionists or Holocaust deniers. Only 9 percent agreed with the statement that “the Holocaust happened, and the number of Jews who died in it have been fairly described by history.”
Generally, Abbas is not unpopular because is he is too extreme; Abbas is unpopular because he is not extreme enough. The most recent public opinion poll from the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research shows that Palestinians prefer either a convicted terrorist or the leader of Hamas as their next president.
The survey shows that a plurality of Palestinians would prefer Marwan Barghouti as their next president. Barghouti is a convicted terrorist who is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for the murder of five people. As the leader of the U.S.-designated terror group the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, Barghouti was the mastermind behind several Palestinian terrorist attacks.
Barghouti is followed in popularity by Ismail Haniyeh, who leads the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas. As the leader of Hamas, Haniyeh has repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel.
Abbas is a symptom of the problem that is the Palestinian society at large. It is easy to dismiss the problem and attach it to one man, but the reality on the ground tells us that the Palestinians are more radicalized than ever before.