Will the Real Abu Mazen Please Stand Up?

byMichael Widlanski

Jerusalem Prayer Team

Week In Review - December 20-24

Does the Palestinian Arab press know something that the Israeli press does not know? Even as the Hebrew press headlined the remarks of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) calling for an end to the intifada, the Arab press - especially the Palestinian press - ignored the "news" item. A careful examination of Abu Mazen's remarks to the Arab newspaper in London - as well as other recent remarks - shows that he does not oppose violence against Israelis from a moral or ideological perspective. Rather, he opposes some violence only from a "pragmatic" or "utilitarian" perspective. And then only for a short time.

It appears possible that Dr. Abbas (who got his Ph.D from the Soviet Patrice Lumumba University on the subject of "Relations between Zionism and Nazism") is not only the formal successor to Arafat but a willing and eager student anxious to apply Arafat's methods of sending multiple messages to multiple (and sometimes gullible) audiences. Dr. Abbas, who wears a suit rather than the military uniform of Arafat, has a more refined and subtle style than his mentor, but it seems likely that their ideological content is similar, if not identical. We will surprise ourselves a lot less if we study the words and methods of the new Palestinian leadership. The writer teaches political communication at the Hebrew University's Rothberg School. (Ha'aretz-Hebrew)











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