World leaders marched together in Paris in solidarity against the cowardly attacks against Charlie Hebdo and against ordinary Jews shopping for Shabbat in a Kosher grocery. Photographs of the world leaders marching showed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu marching in line not far from Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority. While some may see a potential for dialogue amongst the two sides coming out of this “brotherly march”, what is really happening is that the West is failing once again to truly confront the real problem, namely that violence against civilians is justified in pursuit of a political or religious agenda. To really internalize the lessons of last week the West needs to confront the truth about Mr. Abbas and see him for what he really is. He had no moral right to be on that line and his self serving appearance alongside world leaders is more ammunition in a propaganda war that is helping to continue terrorism.
Lets look at the facts. Israeli civilians have been murdered by Palestinians wielding bombs, knives, cars, and whatever else they can get their hands on to kill them. How has Abbas treated these incidents? He pays their families cash and names monuments and street corners after them. He lauds them as martyrs and prays for them! I have no doubt that tonight he will pray for the man who killed Jews in the grocery. By doing these things he has becomes a servant of terror and perhaps its most dangerous variety because he is able to claim legitimacy and stand on the stage alongside world leaders in spite of his vile beliefs and actions.
Why he is welcomed at the rally is not surprising. He is a serial liar who speaks in one voice to the West and in another when inciting his people and educating his own children in the ideal of death and martyrdom. Are those things integral to the nature of Islam? I don’t think they are but it hardly matters. They are clearly part of Abbas’ worldview. He appears moderate only due to the utter depravity of his contemporaries but that does not make him a world leader worthy of respect.
Abbas would have you believe that acts of violence against civilians are legitimate if they are designed to achieve political ends. In service to the “end of the occupation” murder of babies is legitimate and worthy of compensation but it is not. It’s not what Abbas says in English that matters, its what he says in Arabic and what he does when he has ceremonies for murderers. Indeed a major negotiating point that he advocated for with Israel was a release of murderers who killed civilians. They are heroes to him. To my mind, there is scant difference between executing cartoonists because you don’t like what they have to say and murdering civilians to advance your political agenda. This is true even if there is some moral basis for taking action to advance what you believe to be your rights. It is true especially when you claim your rights because those rights are either universal or they have no meaning at all.
So, does this march in Paris auger a new-found resolve in France and the West to combat the roots of terror? No, it most certainly does not and the appearance of Abbas at the event is proof. We will know that there is a true change in Europe when the very concept of martyrdom through killing civilians is completely and utterly rejected and people like Abbas are no longer welcomed to attend events like this.