Friday, July 25, 2003

Abu Mazen and Munich
Many readers will have come to this site through the link provided by Slate in the piece posted yesterday on Mahmoud Abbas, asking whether he was somehow involved in the 1972 Munich Olympics hostage takeover. The information is based on a book published in 1999 in France by Muhammad Daoud Oddeh, knowns as Abu Daoud. I reviewed the book in The Nation, here.

No doubt some readers will consider the piece a hatchet job to discredit Abbas (Abu Mazen). In fact I had no such intention. My point was (assuming what Abu Daoud said was true--and he devotes several chapters to proving the allegation) that it is hypocritical to assume that Abbas is a moral paragon, while Yasser Arafat is not. Ultimately, Arafat is the elected Palestinian leader, and he's the person the U.S. should deal with. In the end both he and Abbas had the checkered past of any member of a militant armed group.

It is silly to simply assume that one is completely different from the other, particularly when the assumed good guy still takes his orders from the bad guy, and when the bad guy's popularity is vastly greater.

In much the same way, Palestinians regard Ariel Sharon as a thug, a view I entirely share, having witnessed at first hand his devastating work in the summer of 1982. As I write in the Slate piece, Palestinians and Israelis will only build peace on a bedrock of short memories.

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