During a meeting with the Egyptian press in Cairo at the beginning of August, Mahmud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, and the man on whom the United States and Europe have placed all of their hopes for peace, revealed what was at the back of his mind with regard to the Jews and the nature of the regime he plans to set up in the future State of Palestine. The official demands of the Palestinians for a settlement are known: Israel’s agreement in advance to withdraw to the borders of 1967, a freeze of construction in the territories including Jerusalem, the division of this city, including the Old City, which must become part of the Palestinian Authority, the solution of the problem of the “refugees” in conformance with Arab demands and Resolution 194 of the General Assembly of the U.N.).
When considering the possibility that a third force, such as NATO, could be given the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of the planned agreement, Mahmud Abbas imposed a condition: that there should not be a single Jewish soldier and any Israeli. “I am ready to accept a third party which supervises the implementation of the agreement, NATO forces for example, but I will not accept the presence of Jews in these forces or a [single] Israeli on the Land of Palestine.”
Is such a demand tainted with antisemitism? It should not come as a shock, if we remember that Mahmud Abbas defended his doctoral thesis which was based on Holocaust denial at a school for political indoctrination in the Soviet Union.
Some may see a polemical and ideological expression in the term “racist,” but Mahmud Abbas’ demand with regard to NATO leaves no doubt in this respect. What does it really mean when he demands that the European states, members of NATO, exclude their Jewish citizens from the ranks of their forces? Can one imagine such a situation and the juridical mechanisms that these states would have to activate in order to separate the Jews from their citizens? As it happens, Mahmud Abbas does not help them by defining the criteria of who is a Jew: religious law, ethnic origins, the father, the mother, the grandfather? It is all the more remarkable that Saudi Arabia, during the Gulf War in 1990-1992, permitted American Jewish soldiers to serve with the American forces on its territory, a land which, according to the Koran, is sacred and should not shelter any non-Moslem. In all of these cases, it is not a question of Israelis, but of Jews, and one knows that the Arabs, in their immense majority do not make a distinction. “Yahoud” [Jew], in this region, designates without hesitation “The Israeli.” What Abbas says about Jews, he says about Israelis, as we have seen, and he demands that the Europeans, so attentive to his wishes, that they accept his conditions.
The refusal to recognize Israel, the Jewish State
There is a perfect coherence between this demand toward the West and the refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, which on many occasions Abbas or Saeb Erekat, his “minister” of foreign affairs, have articulated. The two positions with regard to NATO and refusal to recognize the Jewish State, as such, share of the same anti-Semitism. The thinking behind this refusal, currently repeated as a leitmotiv, has not been sufficiently analyzed. We can immediately dismiss the most current explanation that a state does not have to recognize the “religion” of another State. This is a stalling tactic, which PLO used numerous times in the past, especially in the Palestinian Charter, as we shall see below. To be specific, “Jew” here means a “nation”, not a “religion”. It is with that intention that the UN Resolution (181, II), of November 1947, uses 23 the expression “Jewish State” twenty three times, when it advocates the creation of “two states in Palestine, a Jewish one and an Arab one” (see especially article 3).
In order to understand what this refusal means and why it is not motivated by nationalistic but racist intentions, we shall have to consider it in the context of collateral evidence.
If one examines its link to the demand for the return of the “refugees” of 1948, the picture is clear. Under the weight of five million refugees Israel would automatically become a country with an Arab and Islamic majority, a binational state where the Jews would be a minority, while Palestine would become uniquely Arab. Not one Jew, not even under the flag of NATO or the UN, would be able to be in Palestine, but five million Arabs would join the million Israeli Arabs already residing in the State of Israel and openly rebel against the notion of a Jewish (national) state.
The Palestinian Authority is building a racist regime based on the principle of establishing an apartheid between a Palestine untainted by Jewish blood and a mixed State of Israel where the Jews would become a minority. In its refusal to recognize a Jewish state, there is, in fact, more then a rejection and denial of Jewish history and identity. One may well understand that this improper and exorbitant demand serves a politically correct fig leaf for its fundamental refusal to recognize the State of Israel. On this point, the PLO abandoned its bluff of a “Secular and Democratic Palestine,” which it had promoted in the decade between 1980 and 1990, except that the Palestinians now demand that this formula be imposed on Israel, as they would like it to be,  while Palestine proper would be purely Arab.
State-sanctioned Racism and Segregation
Palestine proper would be, indeed, Arab and Islamic. That is written explicitly in the draft constitution of the planned state: “This constitution is based on the will of Palestinian-Arab people,” (Article 1), “the Palestinian people are a part of the Arab and Islamic nation,” (Article 2), “sovereignty belongs to the Palestinian Arab people,” (Article 10), “the legal character of the Arab-Palestinian people will be embodied by the state,” (Article 13). “Islam will be the official religion of the state,” (Article 6).
We can verify this last principle (the Islamic quality of the state) in the light of the use of rhetorical obfuscation (Article 6) to which the drafters of this constitution resort when they give the appearance of making space for non-Moslems: “Islam will be the official religion of the state. The monotheistic religions will be respected.”
Who are these odd “monotheists” and what about] the Hindus, the Confucians, the Behais, etc., forbidden to live in Palestine?) if not a politically correct version of the old dhimmi status imposed on non-Moslems by the Koranic law? In practice, this article would apply only to Christians, because there should be no more Jews in the State of Palestine …
This strange “monotheistic” statute permits us to understand by deduction the Palestinian Authority’s vision of the state of Israel (that is to say of Jewish Israelis). In Palestine, the Jews theoretically would not be citizens, because they are neither “Arabs” (the key to Palestinian nationality according to articles 10 and 13), nor “Moslems,” (key to the Palestinian national law according to article 6). Although they would be “respected,” they would fall outside of national sovereignty, the exclusive privilege of the Arabs (Article 10), who could be Christians or Moslems, indeed, but with a restriction. Since the law would conform to Islamic law, Christian Arabs could only be second class citizens, subjected to the status which Koranic law imposes on them, a status which excludes them from the general law which applies to the Moslems, a status granted however as a privilege. As they are not subjected to the rules of (Islamic) national law with regard to their personal status, they will be permitted to act autonomously within the framework of their law and religious tribunals.
This was already the case before the colonial era, before Islam lost all power over non-Moslems, and this is indeed what the Palestinian constitution provides for in its Article 7: “the principles of Islamic Sharia are the first source of legislation. The legislative power will determine the law of personal status under the authority of the monotheistic religions in conformity with their religions, with due respect to the clauses of the constitution and the preservation of unity, of the stability and progress of the Palestinian [Moslem] people.”
The problem is twofold: Sharia will not only apply to them when their “personal” status is at stake (and this status is segregative: it included, in the pre-colonial era, political submission, submission in behavior and religion, payment of a head tax, the djizya, or a financial tax on the land from which they have been dispossessed, the kharadj, etc) but also in their quality as citizens. It will indeed govern the citizenry as the law of the state (art. 6). Non-Moslems will be subject to its rulings as citizens and not only as believers.
How does the “monotheistic” statute reveal the vision which the Palestinian Authority has with regard to what the State of Israel should be, and which it does not want to recognize as “Jewish”? Would it recognize the “monotheist” character of the Israelis but not the Jewish character of their state? Would not the term, “Jewish,” designate a “monotheist”?
It is the understanding of the status of the dhimmi which could help us to grasp this apparent contradiction which contains a nasty trick for those who do not understand the categories of Moslem culture. The status of the dhimmi, one must know, is not personal but applies to collectivities, to the “nations” (millet from the times of the Turks) politically subjected to Islamic power since the “Conquest.”
It is necessary to explain the theological basis of the collective condition of the dhimmi. According to the Koranic vision, there were different “umma” [peoples] in history, each one rising to the call of a prophet (Moses, Jesus, etc.), until the advent of the final “umma,” which rose to the call of Islam. The basis of an umma is thus a ‘religion.”
In this sense, the Palestinian leaders cannot recognize the right of a Jewish state (and in fact any state which would not be Islamic), which would entail the self-determination and sovereignty of a collectivity whose only possible status under Islam is that of dhimmi. This would be an affront to the Islamic umma. A Jewish state thus constitutes essentially a scandal. The two terms, “State,” and “Jewish” therefore constitute, as theological-political matter, an impossible alloy. The Jews cannot have a state. They are not a people of political standing, because there can only be The Umma. They [the Jews] can neither be free nor sovereign.
An unclear “nationalism”
This classical Islamic perspective was much more evident in the sixties and seventies when the PLO did not resort to double talk to such a sophisticated degree, even if it already made use of western concepts (religion and state) to express Islamic notions. What does one read indeed in the PLO Charter in its first version (1964)? “The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything which derives from them are declared null and void. The claims of the Jews to historical and religious links with Palestine are incompatible the historical facts and the true conception of what a nation consists. Judaism, being a religion, does not constitute an independent nationality. For the same matter, the Jews do not constitute a unique nation with its own identity. They are citizens of the states to which they belong” (Article 20).
This is already a strange remark for a culture which confuses the political and the religious… It does not prevent the PLO, in the same text, from insisting on the exclusive Arab character of Palestine: “Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people. It is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people is a part of the Arab nation (Article 1.)” […] “Arab unity and the liberation of Palestine constitute two complementary goals” (article 13) “The people of Palestine play the role of the vanguard in the realization of this sacred objective.” Here, the term, Arab nation, really designates the Umma.
We discover in this remark the extent to which the strictly Palestinian “national” framework is recent (the second version of the charter was published in 1968). “The Palestinian people believe in Arab unity. In order for it to contribute to the realization of this objective, it is necessary however, at this stage of the struggle to safeguard the Palestinian identity and develop its consciousness of this identity,” (Article 12) because (Article 1): “Palestine is the home of the Arab Palestinian people. It is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people is an integral part of the Arab nation.” Actually, despite the “nationalistic” formulation of this clause, the term, Arab nation, defines other words the Islamic Umma. Palestine belongs to the Umma (which cannot renounce a part of Islamic land).
It is noteworthy that in their constitutional documents, the Moslem Brotherhood write the same thing about Jews/Israelis, although in a more extreme manner in the case of the Hamas. Let the reader judge. With regard to the dhimmis, the Hamas charter declares that “the Islamic Resistance Movement … is guided by Islamic tolerance when it deals with the faithful of other religions. It does not oppose them except when they are hostile. Under the banner of Islam, the faithful of the three religions, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, can coexist peacefully. But this peace is not possible except under the banner of Islam.” With regard to the nature of the Palestinian country, the Hamas takes the view that: “The Movement of Islamic Resistance believes that Palestine is an Islamic Wakf [Religious patrimony] consecrated for [the future] generations of Moslems until the Last Judgment. Not a single parcel of this can be divested or abandoned to others […] (Article 11).
PLO Charter: an antecedent of this old-new racism
The Palestinian Charter of the PLO is more explicit with regard to the racist motives beneath such an apparent nationalistic statement and it finds expression with regard to all the Jews outside the state of Israel. It states in its Article 23, “The need of security and of peace, as well as that of justice and law, require of all the states that they consider Zionism as an illegitimate movement, that they declare its existence illegal, that they forbid its activities, so that the friendly relations between peoples can be preserved, and that the loyalty of citizens to their respective countries may be preserved.” What does this canned expression “loyalty of citizens toward their respective countries,” describe other than the Jews of the whole world (essentially of the Western countries), not Israelis, whom the Charter singles out for suspicion and the vindictiveness of their respective states, and implies that they are not faithful and could stand up for Israel against the interest of their respective states: that they are in fact Israelis, that is to say, more crudely, “The Jews.” They are depicted precisely with the classic traits of antisemitism: the Jewish conspiracy.
Article 22 of the Charter thus traces the borders in this “anti-Zionist” antisemitism: “Zionism is a political movement bound organically to an international imperialism and hostile to all action for the liberation and every progressive movement in the world. The Zionist by his nature is racist and fanatical, aggressive, expansionist, colonial in his objectives, and fascist in his methods. Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement and the geographical base of world imperialism, strategically placed in the midst of the Arab homeland to combat the hopes for liberation, unity and progress of the Arab nation. Israel is a constant source of threats to the peace of the Middle East and in the whole world. Because the liberation of Palestine will destroy Zionism and the imperialist presence and will contribute to the establishment of the peace in the Middle East, the Palestinian people demands the aid of all the progressive forces [which are] oriented toward peace, and enjoins them, without distinguishing between their affiliation and creed, to offer their aid and support to the Palestinian people in its struggle for the liberation of its homeland.” Zionism” here is another word for the classical “Jewish Conspiracy.”
International and Israeli Passivity:
There has been no European or American reaction to condemn Abbas’ odious remarks in Egypt. Could it be that the world knows very well what to expect from the “moderate” Palestinians? But if this is the real reason for this astounding silence, why should one believe in the Palestinian desire for peace and the myth of Abbas’ moderation? No reaction of protest emanated from the European and American Jewish institutions, to disturb the summer’s torpor. No reaction was forthcoming from the Israeli government. Where are the idealistic souls of the European JStreet, JCall, to castigate this “moral mistake” and this openly bellicose declaration? This silence gives an idea of the indulgence of the public with regard to the Palestinian and Arab-Islamic demands and their lack of interest with regard to the impasse into which they want to throw Israel and the whole Jewish world.
 As post Zionists define it “A state of all its citizens”…
Shmuel Trigano is Professor at Paris University (Sociology of Politics), among his recent publications in English is, The Democratic Ideal and the Shoah. The Unthought in Political Modernity, SUNY Press, 2009.