The Enabling Policy of Impunity

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Photo: World Economic Forum, CC 2.0

by Israel Heritage Foundation

9/10/2023, 10:23:03 PM

It should be no surprise that Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas yet again revealed his true miscreant self in a speech he made in Arabic on Aug. 24 before the Fatah Revolutionary Council.

What is surprising is that it took days after MEMRI translated and published his ugly Holocaust-denying and antisemitic remarks in English for there to be a response from anyone in the Biden administration. Indeed, it was only after The Wall Street Journal editorial board published its condemnation and France, Germany and the European Union condemned it that Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. State Department special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, belatedly weighed in with a tweet. Ellen Germain, the State Department envoy for Holocaust issues then followed suit, as did U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who joined, “in condemning this hateful rhetoric, which, in addition to being antisemitic, undermines prospects for a secure and peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians.”

What is particularly galling is that it appears that as far as the United States is concerned, there are no tangible consequences for Abbas’s misbehavior. Lipstadt did state, “I am appalled by President Abbas’s hateful, antisemitic remarks at a recent Fatah meeting. The speech maligned the Jewish people, distorted the Holocaust and misrepresented the tragic exodus of Jews from Arab countries.” However, she did not conclude with a rousing demand for defunding the P.A. until it ended its pay-for-slay program, barring Abbas from the United States and/or sanctioning him. Instead, she impotently said, “I condemn these statements and urge an immediate apology.”

To his eternal credit, Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) also condemned Abbas. He declared:

The so-called “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas denies the antisemitism of Adolf Hitler, falsely claiming that Hitler “fought the Jews because they were dealing with usury and money.” With “moderates” like these, who needs extremists? There is and has long been a deep rot of antisemitism at the core of Mahmoud Abbas, whose Jew-hatred and corruption have only served to perpetuate the suffering of his own people while lining his own pockets. Abbas is a moral disgrace.

One reason the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is nowhere near a resolution: The bar is so low that a Holocaust-denying antisemite like Mahmoud Abbas is considered a “moderate” when measured against the genocidal antisemites of Hamas, whose founding charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

So far, though, the only tangible response to Abbas’s abhorrent antisemitism was by Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, who effectively rescinded the Grand Vermeil Medal of Paris he had been previously awarded.

It is important to view this matter in context. This is just not a one-time indiscretion by an otherwise good person. Abbas is an unrepentant charter member and leader of a murderous terrorist organization. Indeed, he was one of the PLO leaders responsible for the Munich Olympics massacre in 1972. As the virtually autocratic leader of the kleptocratic P.A. regime, he oppresses his own people, Christians and women; cravenly violates the 30-year-old Oslo Accords; maintains an educational system that indoctrinates children to be Jew-hating murderers; and continues to fund terrorists and their families as part of its pay-for-slay policy.

Astoundingly, it is reported that in October of 2022, the State Department, in a non-public report to Congress, revealed that the P.A. had been given approximately half a billion dollars by the Biden administration, even though it was still making payments to imprisoned terrorists, as well as to the families of those who died while committing acts of terror. The report also found that Palestinian social-media accounts and media organizations were broadcasting or publishing content praising or celebrating acts of violence. This was despite the P.A.’s commitment to stop doing so as a condition of receiving U.S. aid money.

A State Department spokesman is reported to have said the administration opposes the pay-for-slay program and has repeatedly pressed the P.A. to stop it. The fact that the State Department admitted that the P.A. has not done so (as most everyone else can readily recognize) nevertheless did not result in a suspension of any further payments of aid money. Incredibly, the official then blithely went on to say all American aid is allocated consistent with law, a mystifying conclusion.

This does not seem to be some inadvertent oversight or error. Rather, it appears to be a conscious policy to flout the intent and likely the letter of the Taylor Force Act. Frankly speaking, it is inexcusable and immoral. It is tantamount to condonation of and perhaps even complicity with this notorious program.

Is it any wonder that Abbas continues his malign activities and acts with impunity? It would appear that he does have an exemption from any punishing consequences.

Mere verbal condemnations and polite requests for apologies have not served any useful purpose; they merely serve to enable continued wrongdoing. It’s time to change this untenable situation of funding an entity led by Abbas, one of the most notorious antisemites in the world. He funds and honors the murderers of Jews and spews the most vile of anti-Jewish slurs. Appeasement hasn’t improved Abbas; it has merely emboldened him. It is also immoral to fund Abbas’s evil regime and its murderous terrorism program.

There must be tangible consequences for malign actions. The Biden administration needs immediately to end aid to the P.A. in compliance with the Taylor Force Act. Abbas should also be sanctioned for his malign activities, including freezing bank accounts and declaring him barred from entering the United States. American policy needs to be one of moral integrity, and unless there are real penalties imposed for Abbas’s wrongdoing, the situation will only get worse.