Is the Biden administration a reliable ally to Israel?
Antisemitism, the hatred of Jews, is almost as old as the religion. The Bible tells us of Jews being enslaved in ancient Egypt and of the Persian official Haman, who plotted to kill the Jews of ancient Persia.
King Edward expelled the Jews from England in 1290. They were not allowed to return until 1656. Jews were tortured into converting to Catholicism in the Spanish Inquisition, which began in 1478 and ended in 1834.
It took the Nazi murder of 6 million Jews during World War II to show the world the evil and irrationality of it. Antisemitism is a constant, sometimes hidden and sometimes unconcealed.
On Aug. 24, in an address to the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tried to justify Hitler’s genocide against Jews. He said, “They say that Hitler killed the Jews for being Jews and that Europe hated the Jews because they were Jews. Not true.”
Mr. Abbas continued, saying, “Even Hitler said he fought the Jews because they were dealing with usury and money.” He argued that for Hitler, “this was not about semitism and antisemitism.”
We would have never known of Mr. Abbas’ vicious remarks but for the efforts of my friends at the Middle East Media Research Institute.
The institute is a unique resource. It provides translations of speeches and statements of most of the world’s bad guys that are otherwise unavailable outside of the intelligence community. The institute’s translations make up about 80% of my book “In the Words of Our Enemies.”
As Palestinian Authority president, Nobel Peace Prize winner Yasser Arafat preached peace. He signed the 1993 Oslo Accords under which the Palestinians agreed to abandon terrorism, which quickly proved a false promise.
The reason the Palestinians didn’t was simple. Arafat, like Mr. Abbas, rejected any peace with Israel, because any such peace would end the Palestinians’ relevance.
Three times since 2000, Israel has tried to offer the “land for peace” deal in U.N. Resolution 242, but the Palestinians rejected it. For example, in 2000, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak agreed to a plan proposed by then-President Bill Clinton that would have established a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as well as East Jerusalem.
Arafat walked out of the negotiations and launched another terrorist campaign, his “Second Intifada.”
At the same time he was preaching peace, Arafat was exhorting his followers to terrorism. In 2003, and probably many times before, he urged his followers to violence, saying (in Arabic), “To Jerusalem we are going as martyrs in the millions.” No one publicly translated that remark until the Middle East Media Research Institute did.
That makes Mr. Abbas’ statement even more remarkable. The Western media — with the notable exception of The Wall Street Journal — and most of the world’s politicians have ignored it.
Why did Mr. Abbas choose to make that statement now? Why sound like an Iranian ayatollah instead of maintaining the fiction that he was trying to achieve peace with Israel?
It’s all about Saudi Arabia and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Mr. Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian Authority in 2005 for a four-year term, and in 2009, the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s central committee voted to keep him in office indefinitely. His power has been waning for more than a decade thanks to rivals such as the terrorist organization Hamas.
His Aug. 24 statement was not intended for his home audience but for all Arab leaders, especially Mr. Salman. It is part of his campaign to end the crisis of irrelevance that former President Donald Trump’s Abraham Accords has caused the Palestinians.
Signed in September 2020 by Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in separate agreements, the accords were the first peace agreements between Israel and any Arab states since the 1994 Israel-Jordan treaty. They proved that it was possible for Arab states to recognize and make peace with Israel regardless of Palestinian opposition.
Since then, Sudan and Morocco have also signed individual agreements. More Arab and Muslim nations will sign, depending on what the Saudis do.
Saudi Arabia, the wealthiest and most influential Arab nation, is reportedly negotiating with Israel to sign on to the Abraham Accords. Mr. Abbas’ statement is part of his effort to pressure the Saudis not to sign any agreement with Israel.
Mr. Salman is not eager to sign for several reasons, the biggest of which is President Biden’s weakness. Most recently, he gave Mr. Biden a middle-finger salute by joining Russia in extending oil production cuts until the end of the year.
Saudi Arabia’s biggest threat is a nuclear-armed Iran. Mr. Salman knows that Israel could be a key ally against Iran but fears that Mr. Biden may prove unreliable. He also knows that Mr. Trump, if reelected in 2024, will again be a staunch ally of Israel.
Mr. Salman’s choice, then, is between a weak United States and a strong Israel on one hand and Iran and the irrelevant Palestinians on the other.
With the recent reopening of Saudi-Iranian diplomatic relations, tensions with Iran have been temporarily eased. Unless his hand is forced by events, the crown prince will probably delay his choice until 2025, when our election is behind us.
• Jed Babbin is a national security and foreign affairs columnist for The Washington Times and contributing editor for The American Spectator.