Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas spoke to American Jews about peace without incitement against Jews while back home, exactly eight days later, official PA TV called Jews "our enemies." A week after that, it continued to teach children that all of Israel is “Palestine."
Abbas's change in tactics in campaigning for a new Arab state focuses on Jews in the United States for the first time. Abbas, who wrote his doctoral thesis on the denial of the Holocaust, told Jewish leaders at the June 9 dinner that he sent delegates to Holocaust memorial ceremonies in Russia and Poland.
"I want to tell everyone that these people suffered, and we are suffering. Now we want peace between each other," Abbas was quoted as saying. He also rejected Holocaust denial, according to Ben Smith of Politico.com. Abbas condemned violence and even recognized the Jewish connection to Israel although he apparently did not specifically refer to the Temple Mount. The PA and the Arab world in general have claimed for the past several years that the Jewish Holy Temples never existed.
Among the 30 Jewish leaders at the dinner in Washington were two senior officials of the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as well as the head of the left-wing J Street political lobby, which promotes engaging Hamas.
Abbas has refused to agree that Israel is a Jewish State, a statement that would contradict the Arab demand for the immigration to Israel of approximately five million Arabs claiming ancestry there, which would place Jews in a minority. He told the American Jews that he recognizes Israel’s right to pre-1967 Israel.
However, back home, PA TV broadcast exactly 12 days later, "The West Bank and Gaza have another section in Palestine which is the Palestinian coast that spreads [to] Ashkelon in the south, until Haifa, in the Carmel Mountains."
"Haifa is a well-known Palestinian port. [Haifa] enjoyed a high status among Arabs and Palestinians especially before it fell to the occupation [Israel] in 1948. To its north, we find Acre. East of Acre, we reach a city with history and importance, the city of Tiberias, near a famous lake, the Sea of Galilee.”
J Street director Jeremy Ben-Ami was thrilled that "the leader of the Palestinian people [is] telling the American Jewish community that the only solution to the conflict is two states living side by side in peace and security” with “West” Jerusalem as the capital of Israel [and] “East” Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.
In replies to questions raised by more skeptical Jewish leaders, Abbas did not directly explain why he refuses to sit down in direct talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Abbas has insisted on Israel’s fulfilling his condition that it permanently freeze all building for Jews in areas claimed by the PA.
The most obvious problem for his hosts was the issue of incitement, which several years ago the PA promised the United States that it would halt. He did not offer questioners any specific mechanisms to stop what has become a routine hate message and denial of the existence of Israel in PA textbooks and on the airwaves. U.S. Congressmen who visited Israel last year and were unfamiliar with the phenomena, expressed shock when presented with evidence of the entire younger generation of Arabs being educated to believe that all of Israel is “occupied.”
Abbas later revealed to the Associated Press the thinking behind his new tactic of engaging American Jews. "I think it's a mistake to ignore these institutions and communities by saying that they are against us, and that we should not talk to them," he said. "No, we should sit with them, and we should try to convince them by talking to them."
Abbas reportedly also made statements condemning violence, but insisted that his comments be kept off the record..