This week, Yasser Arafat appointed Mahmoud Abbas ("Abu Mazen") as prime minister to run the day-to-day affairs of the Palestinians.
On Wednesday, Arafat then met in his Ramallah office with representatives of Russia, the EU, and the UN, and demanded they put pressure on Israel -- now that he has agreed to share powers with a prime minister.
As BBC reports on Arafat: "The Palestinian leader has thrown his weight behind the reform process." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2833739.stm), and that "Mr Arafat has been told that easing his grip on power is a key condition to restart peace talks."
Actually, since Arafat hand-picked Abbas, it does not satisfy the world's demand for the introduction of democratic reforms into the Palestinian system.
And since it turns out that Arafat is maintaining control of two crucial portfolios -- security and peace negotiations -- the Abbas appointment also does not satisfy President Bush's demand for "new leadership not compromised by terror."
As the Jerusalem Post writes: "The whole American-European-Israeli idea was to transform Yasser Arafat into a figurehead and transfer power to a more palatable replacement. That, so far, is clearly not what is happening."
---- Media Spin ----
Let's look at how the media is spinning this one.
For starters, The Guardian's Conal Urquhart (his real name) writes: "Mr Abbas has the stature and ability to sign a peace deal independently..."
This assertion should come as quite a surprise to Arafat, who gave Abbas no such "ability." (Comments to: email@example.com)
And The Independent (UK) trumpets this headline: "Palestinians Vote for Powerful Premier"
"Powerful"?! (Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
By contrast, the Chicago Tribune’s headline spoke the plain truth:
"Arafat remains boss in deal to appoint prime minister: PLO chief keeps reins on police, talks for peace"
---- Background: Who is Abbas? ----
Mahmoud Abbas holds a Ph.D. in history from Moscow's Oriental College, where his doctoral thesis served as a basis for his 1984 book, "The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism." In this book, Abbas raised doubts that gas chambers were used for extermination of Jews, and suggested that the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust was “less than a million."
Abbas also proposed the sickening, bizarre claim that the Holocaust was a joint Zionist-Nazi plot. He wrote: "The Zionist movement led a broad campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule, in order to arouse the government's hatred of them, to fuel vengeance against them, and to expand the mass extermination."
It was this type of talk that led Austrian Freedom Party leader Jorg Haider and French politician Jean Marie Le Pen to be ostracized by the international community.
So how does BBC profile Abbas?
"A highly intellectual man, Abu Mazen [Abbas] studied law in Egypt before doing a PhD in Moscow. He is the author of several books."
BBC offers no details of the appalling contents of Abbas' writings.
Meanwhile, much of the media is praising Abbas as a "moderate" for having criticized the use of armed attacks against Israelis. The same BBC profile reports: "Referring to the current intifada, Abu Mazen has called for a halt to armed attacks on Israeli targets to avoid giving Israel a pretext to destroy the last vestiges of Palestinian autonomy."
Note that Abbas does not oppose killing Israeli civilians from a moral standpoint; he just finds it strategically ineffective.
Further, in a March 3 interview with the London-based “A-Sharq al-Awsat,” Abbas called for the continuation of armed struggle, and seemed only to rule out suicide missions inside the Green Line.
Comments to BBC at:
See a full report on Abbas' Holocaust revisionism at:
---- Palestinian Denial of the Holocaust ---
Yasser Arafat and the PA have systematically dismissed the horrors of the Holocaust -- in speeches, television appearances, interviews and books -- both before and after the Oslo accords were signed.
The PA newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeedah, featured an article by Palestinian author Nabil Salam, declaring:
"Since its establishment, the racist Zionist entity has been implementing various forms of terrorism on a daily basis which are a repetition of the Nazi terror. This proves the shared roots of Nazi and Zionist thought. This also explains the cooperation between the Jews and Nazis during World War II, through which was revealed the forged claims of the Zionists regarding the alleged acts of slaughter perpetrated against the Jews during the same period." (September 3, 1997)
A PA television moderator declared: "It is well-known that every year the Jews exaggerate what the Nazis did to them. They claim there were 6 million killed, but precise scientific research demonstrates that there were no more than 400,000." (August 25, 1997)
Hassan al-Agha, a professor at the Islamic University in Gaza City, declared on PA television in 1997:
"The Jews view it [the Holocaust] as a profitable activity so they inflate the number of victims all the time. In another ten years, I do not know what number they will reach... As you know, when it comes to economics and investments, the Jews have been very experienced ever since the days of The Merchant of Venice."
Seif Ali Al-Jarwan, writing in the Palestinian newspaper Al Hayat Al-Jadeeda, declared:
"They concocted horrible stories of gas chambers which Hitler, they claimed, used to burn them alive. The press overflowed with pictures of Jews being gunned down... or being pushed into gas chambers... The truth is that such persecution was a malicious fabrication by the Jews." (July 2, 1998)
Furthermore, Palestinians have refused to incorporate any aspect of the Holocaust into their educational curricula, fearing it might strengthen Zionist claims to Palestine. Hatem Abd Al-Qader, a Hamas leader, explained that such instruction would represent "a great danger for the formation of a Palestinian consciousness"; it would directly threaten Palestinian political dreams and religious aspirations, such as the promise by Allah that the whole of Palestine was a sacred possession to the Arabs. (Al-Risala, Apr. 13, 2000)
And finally, The New York Times (April 6, 1989) reports that Fuzi Salim Ali Madi, one of the leaders of Arafat's elite unit, Fatah Force 17, selected the moniker "Abu Hitler" and named his two sons "Eichmann" and "Hitler."
Read more about "Palestinian Holocaust Denial" in a fine article by Robert S. Wistrich: