Of course, Abbas politicizes Vatican speech
There was a huge contrast between the speech that Shimon Peres gave at the Vatican on Sunday and the one given by Mahmoud Abbas.
Peres’ speech had very little to say about specific Jewish claims to the Holy Land and almost everything he stated was a universal message of peace.
Mahmoud Abbas, on the other hand, filled his speech with code-words that are meant to exclude Jews from controlling their holy sites and to subtly blame and pressure Israel. And this was all after the Vatican said that this was specifically meant to be a non-political event.
Here are the major parts of Peres’ statements, where he emphasizes peace and equality:
Your Holiness Pope Francis, Your Excellency President Mahmoud Abbas … I have come from the Holy City of Jerusalem to thank you for your exceptional invitation. The Holy City of Jerusalem is the beating heart of the Jewish People. In Hebrew, our ancient language, the word Jerusalem and the word for peace share the same root. And indeed peace is the vision of Jerusalem.
As it is said in the Book of Psalms:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity.
Two peoples – Israelis and Palestinians – still are aching for peace. The tears of mothers over their children are still etched in our hearts. We must put an end to the cries, to the violence, to the conflict. We all need peace. Peace between equals.
On this moving occasion, brimming with hope and full of faith, let us all raise with you, Your Holiness, a call for peace between religions, between nations, between communities, and between fellow men and women. Let true peace become our legacy soon and swiftly.
Our Book of Books commands upon us the way of peace, demands of us to toil for its realization.
It is said in the book of Proverbs: “Her ways are ways of grace, and all her paths are peace.”
So too must our ways be. Ways of grace and peace. It is not by chance that Rabbi Akiva captured the essence of our Torah in one sentence: “Love your neighbor like thyself.” We are all equal before the Lord. We are all part of the human family. For without peace, we are not complete, and we have yet to achieve the mission of humanity.
Peace does not come easy. We must toil with all our strengths to reach it. To reach it soon. Even if it requires sacrifice or compromise.
The Book of Psalms tells us: “Whoever loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.”
This is to say, we are commanded to pursue after peace. All year. Every day. We greet each other with this blessing. Shalom. Salam. We must be worthy of the deep and demanding meaning of this blessing. Even when peace seems distant, we must pursue it to bring it closer.
And if we pursue peace with perseverance, with faith, we will reach it.
And it will endure through us, through all of us, of all faiths, of all nations, as it is written: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
The soul is elated upon the reading of these verses of eternal vision. And we can – together and now, Israelis and Palestinians – convert our noble vision to a reality of welfare and prosperity. It is within our power to bring peace to our children. This is our duty, the holy mission of parents.
I was young, now I am old. I experienced war, I tasted peace. Never will I forget the bereaved families, parents and children, who paid the cost of war. And all my life I shall never stop to act for peace for the generations to come. Let’s all of us join hands and make it happen.
Let me end with a prayer: He who makes peace in the heavens shall make peace upon us and upon all of Israel, and upon the entire world, and let us say Amen.
Peres talks about the people who have been hurt in the Middle East wars, and he tells them to do a very Christian thing – to move forward and work towards peace as the ultimate goal, a peace between equals, not being shackled by the pain of the past. He doesn’t demand “justice” for those who are bereaved, for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their land and their people.
Abbas’ speech was the polar opposite.
Mahmoud Abbas sprinkles his calls for peace with “justice” – a keyword that often means the destruction of Israel, since its very existence is perceived as unjust. To Arabs, the word “justice” is akin to revenge, to getting everything they demand – since they are the only arbiters of what is considered “just.”
Abbas also subtly calls for Jews to be treated as dhimmis by their Muslim leaders in Jerusalem:
…Oh God, we ever praise you for making Jerusalem our gate to heaven. As said in the Holy Quran, “Glory to Him who made His servant travel by night from the sacred place of worship to the furthest place of worship, whose surroundings We have blessed.” You made pilgrimage and prayer in it as the best acts the faithful can make in your praise, and made your truthful promise in your say: “Let them enter the Masjid as they did for the first time.” God Almighty has spoken the truth.
O, Lord of Heaven and Earth, accept my prayer for the realization of truth, peace and justice in my country Palestine, the region, and the globe as a whole.
I beseech You, O Lord, on behalf of my people, the people of Palestine – Moslems, Christians and Samaritans – who are craving for a just peace, dignified living, and liberty, I beseech you, Oh Lord, to make prosperous and promising the future of our people, and freedom in our sovereign and independent state; Grant, O Lord, our region and its people security, safety and stability. Save our blessed city Jerusalem; the first Kiblah, the second Holy Mosque, the third of the two Holy Mosques, and the city of blessings and peace with all that surround it.
…Accordingly, we ask You, O Lord, for peace in the Holy Land, Palestine, and Jerusalem together with its people. We call on you to make Palestine and Jerusalem in particular a secure land for all the believers, and a place for prayer and worship for the followers of the three monotheistic religions Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and for all those wishing to visit it as it is stated in the Holy Quran.
O Lord, You are the peace and peace emanates from You. O God of Glory and Majesty grant us security and safety, and alleviate the suffering of my people in hometown and Diaspora.
O Lord, bring comprehensive and just peace to our country and region so that our people and the peoples of the Middle East and the whole world would enjoy the fruit of peace, stability and coexistence.
We want peace for us and for our neighbors. We seek prosperity and peace of mind for ourselves and for others alike. O Lord, answer our prayers and make successful our endeavors for you are most just, most merciful, Lord of the Worlds.
Here is the difference between the Arab side and the Israeli side. Even in the most pacific setting possible, in front of the Pope, while Israelis describe how much they yearn for true peace, the Arab idea of “peace” has strings attached – and those strings are meant to weaken and ultimately destroy Israel in the name of “justice.”