Friday, February 2, 2018

Friday cartoon: Abbas refuses to grasp Trump's extended hand

Almost as soon as US President Donald Trump declared his intention to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas reacted badly. First, his Fatah Party--which he controls with an iron fist--called for three days of rage ("Trump informs Abbas of intention to move embassy to Jerusalem: Abbas spokesman", xinhuanet, December 6, 2017). He then followed that by calling the Trump Jerusalem decision a 'crime' (Sarah Wildman, "The Palestinian President just said he won't work with Trump", vox, December 13, 2017). Then he said he would no longer work with American peace negotiators (ibid). 

Then, Abbas got personal. He called the Trump recognition a 'slap in the face'--a reference to the kind of public humiliation Arabs often claim is tantamount to an act of war (Daniel Sugarman, "Mahmoud Abbas brands Trump's Jerusalem move 'a slap in the face'", thejc, January 15, 2018). 

Then he became 'religious'. He called the Trump decision, 'sinful' (Dov Lieber, "Abbas: Jerusalem is the gate of peace and war--Trump must choose",  timesofisrael, January 17, 2018).

Then Abbas looked for a way to humiliate the US. He decided to exclude the US from any future peace talks. He said he would replace the US for such talks. 

At first, Abbas turned to the UN to replace the US (Karten Laub, Zeynep Bilginsoy, "Abbas says UN should replace US as Mideast mediator",, December 13, 2017). That didn't work.

He then went after the EU (Adam Ragson, "Official: Abbas to ask EU to help create alternative to US-led peace process", jerusalempost, January 21, 2018). But even before he arrived in Europe, word got out that it was not likely he would get much from the EU in the way of concrete commitments ("Abbas seeks EU support for Palestinians amid row with US", gulf-times, January 22, 2018). 

How is this Abbas gambit to exclude the US from peace talks going? Badly. As supportive as the EU is of Abbas, it won't try to do peace negotiations without the US ("EU says US needed for Mideast peace but can't do it alone", dailymail, January 31, 2018). 

Today's cartoon comes from arutzsheva. It was done this week. The cartoonist's name might be Roy Guron (it's in Hebrew; my translation might be bad). 

I'd say this political cartoon correctly captures what Abbas is really doing here with his anti-US bravado. Page down to see the cartoon:

Note: That's Trump on the right, holding out his hands. That's Abbas on the left, refusing even to touch Trump.

The consequences of this Abbas gambit, in this cartoon, are all too clear. His bravado fools no one: he's a fool if he doesn't take Trump's hand.

For me, this cartoon pretty much says it all: the Palestinian dream is doomed. It's on the wrong side of history. It's on the wrong side of peace. It's on the wrong side of truth. It's even, as this cartoon suggests, on the wrong side of rational intelligence.

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