Many praises were sent to the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, for revoking Mahmoud Abbas’s honorary title, the Grand Vermeil medal, as a result of his recent anti-semitic and false claims about the history of the Jews and Israel.
But why should we pretend that Hidalgo did something admirable? Isn’t she the one who gave Abbas his title in the first place? And are Abbas’s statements all that surprising? Didn’t she know who he was before handing over this honor?
On Sept. 22, 2015, a little over a year into her first mandate as the Mayor of the city of lights, Hidalgo posted a picture of herself next to Abbas on Facebook with the caption: “Happy to have received Mahmoud Abbas, President of Palestine, yesterday on the occasion of his visit to Paris. […] I repeat it forcefully: Paris supports the creation of a Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel.” On this occasion, Hidalgo handed Abbas his title.
My question for Hidalgo is, what has changed in Abbas’s opinion toward the Jews between then and now? Did the previous “President of Palestine” was a dove of peace who went rogue?
The answer is, of course, absolutely not! The truth is that Abbas’s ideas were known to the public decades before, only that Hidalgo, chose to ignore them.
Back in 1982, the Institute of Oriental Studies in the former USSR granted doctoral status to one Mahmoud Abbas, upon the defense of his thesis “The Relationship Between Zionists and Nazis, 1933-1945.” Only from its title, we can understand this thesis to be yet another effort for a revisionist history of the Jews in Europe. In his thesis, Abbas argued that the Zionist movement has inflated the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis to gain sympathy across the world and claimed that the true number is in the hundreds of thousands, not six million as the predominant opinion claims. Abbas also cast doubts about the use of gas chambers by the Nazis to kill Jews, and overall provided a false perspective on the Jewish genocide, which, coming from a man who would eventually become the leader of Israel’s most ardent enemy, is not surprising.
But that is not all. Abbas’s anti-semitism goes beyond his holocaust denial. For one thing, Abbas has never officially condemned any of the terror attacks committed by Palestinian terrorists against innocent Israelis, including the stabbing to death of a two-year-old baby while she was sleeping in her crib. The Palestinian leader also never failed to express his anti-semitic hate for the Jews in a variety of ways. For example, in a speech for the Palestinian TV, Abbas stated, “Al-Aksa is ours, and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They [Jews] have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet.” That statement, however, did not deter Hidalgo from welcoming Abbas to her city with an honorary title only weeks later.
I wonder if anyone would have remembered such a statement if it were coming from the Israeli Prime Minister toward the Palestinians.
So what happened? Is Hidalgo surprised by Abbas’s recent statements? Did she have to wait for eight years to understand that she has honored an anti-semitic holocaust denier who doesn’t believe the Jews have a claim for the state of Israel?
The answer is that Hidalgo had conveniently ignored these statements, like many in the West, in an effort to downplay this uncomfortable Palestinian rhetoric and draw a moral equivalence between the Israeli government and the Palestinian authorities.
Back in 2014, two years, after I moved into the 11th district in Paris, I attended the neighborhood Synagogue de la Roquette, for a service to support the state of Israel. At that time, Israel was going through, yet again, another round of escalation with Hamas. While I was there, the synagogue was attacked by a pro-Palestinian mob. Last than a year later, terrorists killed 12 individuals (most of them journalists) at Charlie Hebdo’s offices, and another terrorist walked into a Kosher store and killed four Jewish shoppers, all within less than a mile radius.
Underneath all of these terror attacks sits a profound hate toward the Jews, Israel, and, by extension, the West. It’s thesis exactly like the one written by Abbas that fuels this conspiratorial tattletale that Jews are somehow pulling the levers of power in the world, are behind colonial France, World War II, and ISIS (yes – the Zionist invented ISIS), and thus should be destroyed.
What Hidalgo actually showed by revoking Abbas’s title is how deeply ignorant she and her administration are toward the Jews, because none of Abbas’s statements should come as news to her or anyone else for that matter. While her fellow Parisians were killed on the streets, she saw right to grand an honorary title to the head of the snake.
So to Miss Anne Hidalgo, I would say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Your actions are simply too little, too late.