The question remains, why Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ s militant anti-Israel speech this week was not paid attention to, as reported in the here on January 11th, 2007:
The reason, according to Palestinian Arabic language media expert, Dr. Michael Widlanski was that most of its violent message was lost in translation, because Abbas used a somewhat obscure wording in Arabic.
“Let a thousand flowers bloom, and let our rifles, all our rifles, all our rifles, be aimed at the Occupation,” declared Abbas using an apparent reference to the old oratory of Communist leader Mao Tse Tung.
Even non-Arabs well-schooled in Arabic had trouble figuring out the strange verb form “da’a” used by Dr. Abbas, but it is a command form that means “let us” or “leave us begin to” from the weak Arabic verbal root Wa-da-‘a (Waw, Dal ‘Ayin). [See Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, p.1058]
The phrase is important in many ways, because it shows that Dr. Abbas, who studied at the KGB’s Patrice Lumumba University for Third World leaders, continues to heed Communist revolutionary rhetoric and tactics;.–That Dr. Abbas is committed to the “revolutionary path” of Yasser Arafat, who also saluted those using violence against Israel;
.–And that Abbas believes that the Palestinian revolution requires continued violence against Israel, and that this violence can actually be a unifying factor among Palestinians, though Abbas has said that the timing of the violence is of critical importance.
“I say to the master of the martyrs,” declared Abbas, saluting Arafat, “your sons will continue your march. I say to you, your lion cubs will continue this struggle (nidal), this battle (kifaah) until a Palestinian state is established on the land of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.
Abbas, who spoke for more than 30 minutes on January 11 in Ramallah, made it clear that he was distinguishing between the “struggle” or “battle” against Israel and the “fighting” among Palestinians.
“Firing weapons at a my brother my friend, my neighbor,” declared Arafat’s successor, “is forbidden, forbidden, forbidden,” repeating his words and waving his left hand strongly.
But Abbas said the Palestinian struggle would continue despite setbacks.
“They have killed us everywhere, but this revolution, by virtue of the determination of its people, by virtue of the determination of its youth–this revolution has continued and it will continue until we fulfill the Palestinian dream.”
Abbas was speaking at the forty-second anniversary of the founding of the Fatah organization-a day commemorating the first Palestinian attack on Israel’s national water carrier on January 1, 1965, and Abbas was trying to use the occasion unify the divided Palestinian community, perhaps by using Israel as a common enemy.
The Fatah Day speech was delayed by ten days of massive fighting between Fatah and Hamas, both of which are wrestling for leadership of the Palestinian Authority in the wake of Yasser Arafat’s death in November 2004.
“Since our launching to this day, we have believed in principles which we shall not relinquish. From the dawn of our beginning we have said ‘Let a thousand flowers bloom and let our rifles, all our rifles, all our rifles, be aimed at the Occupation.’ And we will keep the oath, the renewed national unity, for everyone who cares for the sake of the homeland and in the path of the homeland,” declared Abbas.
Frequently throughout his speech, Abbas referred to Arafat as martyr, similarly describing those Fatah gunmen who died while carrying out attacks on Israel.
Abbas’s comments were interpreted by Palestinians themselves as a clear reference to attacking Israel-a badge of honor rather than something to condemn.
The Palestinian leader’s words were repeated almost exactly in later television shows by other Palestinian officials, such as Ibrahim Abu-Naja and Dr. Kamal Sharafy who called Israel “the enemy” and “the Zionist enemy,” respectively.
As if to remove any doubt about the militancy of Abbas’s words and the place to aim Palestinian rifles, minutes after Abbas’s own speech, Palestinian television’s senior announcer, described Israel’s establishment as the beginning of “occupation.”
“No one [here] is a criminal. All our people are as one hand to free our land,” declared Abbas, speaking about the struggle against Israel that unites all Palestinians. Not once in his speech did he condemn or even disapprove of continuing rocket attacks and attempted suicide assaults by Hamas and by his own Fatah movement.
But Abbas made it clear that Palestinian violence had to be curtailed for practical reasons, because it was “crossing a red line,” endangering Palestinians.
“I have heard the sound gunshots here, and that is forbidden,” asserted Abbas, the Fatah and PLO chairman, remonstrating against the largely pro-Fatah crowd that gathered to listen to his words in the town of Ramallah, north of Jerusalem.
“Condemning and preventing internal fighting,” was his goal, asserted Abbas, referring to the internal Palestinian blood-letting in which about 300 Palestinians died last year. Stopping this “falatan”-anarchy in Arabic- was his regime’s first priority, said Abbas, but his words did not seem to convince the crowd.
“Hamas is a bunch of Shiites,” cried members of the crowd, using the term “Shiite” as a kind of curse, and Abbas again rebuked his own Fatah members, saying, “This [kind of talk] too is forbidden,” as he tried to strike nationalistic and Islamic themes of unity, departing slightly from his prepared speech.
[See Fatah website in Arabic http://wafa.ps/arabic/cphotonews.asp?num=37134]
“No one [Palestinian] is outside our society,” yelled Abbas. waving his hands at the noisy crowd. He specifically saluted the late Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, one of the founders of Hamas, which developed the human bomb attacks that ravaged Israel from 1994-2004, after Israel signed several agreements with the Palestinians.
“No one is a traitor. No one is a collaborator [with Israel]. No one is an infidel,” Abbas continued, strongly suggesting that anyone who has used arms against Israel, even if he vied with Fatah for leadership, was still not beyond the pale.
[Almost all Palestinians are Sunni Muslims and the term “Shi’a” in Arabic, which means faction or faction member, refers to those Muslims who broke away from the majority community after the death of Islam’s leader, Muhammad, and supported Ali, Muhammad’s nephew. -MW]
In what was in many ways one of the most militant speeches against Israel from a Palestinian official normally touted as a moderate, Dr. Abbas also stretched out his hand to the Hamas terror organization that has never even pretended it does not want to destroy Israel.
Dr. Abbas seemed to reject all possibilities of territorial compromise or anything less than full repatriation of Palestinian refugees, and he repudiated Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s idea that a further Israeli withdrawal would lead to a Palestinian state inside temporary borders.
“Today more than any other day, we must hold fast to our Palestinian principles, and we will not accept a state with temporary borders” said Abbas, adding, “We will not give up one grain [of land] in Jerusalem.”