According to a Washington Post editorial this morning, “Palestinian Candidate Mahmoud Abbas has been a strong and courageous opponent of violence against Israel and a strong supporter of Palestinian compromises to move toward a two-state solution.”
Would that it were so. To the best of my knowledge (Cornerites are invited to correct me if I’m wrong) Abbas has never opposed violence – not even the murder of children – on a moral basis (the only basis that could be called “courageous.”)
Instead, he has merely said that such acts, at this point in history, harm, rather than help the Palestinian cause (which may be defined variously as establishing a Palestinian state or wiping Israel off the face of the Earth).
And when has Abbbas ever said that the Palestinians will have to make serious compromises with the Israelis in order to achieve peace? By contrast, Ariel Sharon has often told Israelis that they must prepare to make “painful compromises.”
With this as background, it is no surprise – though it is a disappointment – that Abbas has waged his campaign by attacking “the Zionist enemy,” saying nothing that will help Palestinians move toward a resolution of the conflict that is less than they were promised by Arafat – less than a Palestinian victory and an Israeli defeat.
And remember: Abbas has had no serious opponent in this race. True, there are those who are not candidates who might attempt to kill him should he say anything that displeases them. But that will be true after he wins as well. And if the goal here is to build democratic values and institutions, would it not be useful for Abbas to say a few words critical of such people? Shouldn’t the Post have noted that?.