Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's legal term in office expired nearly four years ago. But his supporters don't care. In Israel, Washington and throughout the world, Abbas's supporters extol the authoritarian leader as a great moderate. In 2002, desperately searching for a face for the Palestinians that wasn't Yasser Arafat's face, the Left pushed Abbas out from behind Arafat's shadow. Abbas, who served as Arafat's deputy for 39 years, was upheld as a great moderate and placed in the invented position of Palestinian prime minister.
The fact that Abbas was an inveterate Jew-hater who spent four decades in the senior leadership of a terrorist organization and whose doctoral dissertation was a long denial of the Holocaust, was brushed aside.
His leftist supporters don't care that he says Israel has no right to exist. They are untroubled by his 2008 rejection of then-prime minister Ehud Olmert's unprecedentedly generous offer of peace and Palestinian statehood. They don't mind that Abbas has refused to negotiate peace with Israel for the past four years. They don't care that he has signed two unity government deals with Hamas or that he seeks to gain sovereignty for a Palestinian state through the UN and so establish a Palestinian state in a formal state of war with Israel.
They don't care. But most Israelis do. Due to their recognition of his hatred for Israel and due to the terrorism Abbas has condoned and financed for decades, the vast majority of Israelis do not consider him a potential partner for peace. They do not believe that either Abbas or the Palestinians as a whole are remotely interested in being appeased by Israel.
As a consequence, most Israelis greeted Abbas's speech at the UN General Assembly last week with indifference. In that speech, Abbas made clear - yet again - that he remains Arafat's loyal deputy. The majority of Abbas's speech involved a litany of libels against Israel, which he accused of everything from terrorism to apartheid, colonialism, racism, murder, theft, etc., etc., etc.
Then he moved on to his demands. In addition to reinstating his demand that Israel agree to every Palestinian demand as a precondition for negotiations, Abbas demanded that Israel release all Palestinian terrorists from its prisons.
No, none of Abbas's attacks had an iota of truth to them.
But who cares? Abbas certainly doesn't. And neither do his supporters. Their support for Abbas has nothing to do with what he says or does. It has to do with who they are and what they want. Abbas is their prop, not their partner.
Abbas's Israeli supporters are the core of far-leftists who brought us the phony peace process with the PLO. Two thousand dead Israelis later, and with no peace in sight, their camp is much smaller today than it was in 1993. But it is still dedicated. And it is overpopulated by members of the media.
TIPPING HIS hat to this group, this week Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced in a media interview that he thinks that Israel should unilaterally withdraw from much of Judea and Samaria.
For most Israelis, Barak's plan is self-evidently insane.
We left Gaza and see the consequences of that unilateral withdrawal every day as southern Israel is bombarded with missiles and rockets. We left and Gaza was transformed into a hub for global jihad, increasingly indistinguishable from Sinai. The very notion that our defense chief could suggest adopting an identical strategy for Judea and Samaria is both obscene and frightening.
What can he be thinking? Barak is thinking about elections, which are apparently about to be called. Barak thinks his best bet politically is to try to win the support of Abbas's ever shrinking support base.
Barak lost his political base when he left the Labor Party and formed his own Independence faction with other breakaway Labor politicians at the beginning of 2011. He needs Abbas's Israeli supporters to vote for him if he is to get elected to the next Knesset. Even more crucially, Barak needs Abbas's supporters in the Israeli media. So to win their support, he opted to run on a platform of expelling Jews from their homes.
Barak's move doesn't tell us anything we don't already know about him. He remains the political opportunist he has always been. His move is interesting because of what it reveals about the nature of Israel's Left.
There is no rational way to argue that Israel can gain any advantage by surrendering Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians. If Israel departs, either Abbas will gobble up the territory and demand more, or he will swallow the concession and get swallowed by Hamas, which will demand more - as happened in Gaza.
Either way, Israel loses.
But that doesn't matter for the Left. The Left continues to support Israeli withdrawals because its members know that the biggest loser of such an action won't be Israel as a whole. It will be the Israeli Right. And that is all the Left cares about.
The only enemy they are interested in fighting, the only adversary they wish to defeat, is their fellow Israelis. And in a bid to win their support at the ballot box - and on the evening news - Barak has decided to embrace their cause. He will fight their fight against their Israeli enemies for them.
The Israeli Left is not alone in its belief that its number one priority is to destroy its domestic political opposition. Throughout the Western world, the political Left is increasingly rallying around positions that are in fundamental conflict with their nation's interests as well as with the specific ideological commitments of the Left, for the sole purpose of gaining and maintaining power.
In recent weeks, the Left in the US has exposed its motivations and purpose in profoundly troubling ways. If Jewish settlement of the Land of Israel is the core of the Zionist revolution, freedom of speech is the foundation of America. Without Jewish settlement, there is no Israel. Without freedom of speech, there is no America.
IN RECENT weeks, US President Barack Obama and all of his senior aides and supporters have launched an assault on freedom of speech. They have attacked previously unknown figures because they dared to exercise their freedom of speech to produce an anti-Islamic film and broadcast it on YouTube. The White House pressured Google (which owns YouTube) to take the movie down. Obama's media supporters have gone along with this shocking assault on bedrock American principles.
The Left's support for Obama's bid to repress freedom of speech in relation to the movie was not an isolated incident. Today the enlightened leftists of New York and Washington are apoplectic because a federal judge required New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority to post paid advertisements by the Stop the Islamization of America human rights group calling for Americans to support Israel against jihad.
The content of the ads is self-evidently reasonable. They read, "In any war between the savage and the civilized man, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."
SIOA's founder Pamela Geller submitted the ads to the MTA last year in response to a rash of anti- Israel ads calling for the US to end its support for the Jewish state. Those ads were published on New York buses and subways and on public transportation around the US.
The MTA rejected SIOA's ad but the group sued. Citing the US Constitution, the court required the MTA to post them. When after a year's delay the ads were finally posted last week, the US Left in the media and beyond had a collective fit.
From The New York Times to radical rabbis to pro- Islamic Christian pastors to The Washington Post, everyone is wringing their hands. In a televised debate with Geller, the anti-Israel evangelical pastor Rev. Jim Wallis condemned the ads, told Geller she was going to get Christians killed, (by what or whom, he never said), and demanded that Geller silence herself. As he put it, "Stop talking."
It is important to be clear. The American Left doesn't have a problem with free speech, per se. And they aren't concerned - as Wallis would have you believe - that calling jihad savagery is going to get people killed, (by not-at-all savage jihadists).
The problem with messages like Geller's is that talk about jihad distracts people from what the Left wants them to be thinking about.
Like the Israeli Left, the American Left doesn't want Americans to think about the actual threats to the US emanating from the Islamic world. They want the public to think about what for them is the only real threat to their values and their ability to win and wield power.
That threat doesn't emanate from the Islamic world where women are treated worse than farm animals, homosexuals are hanged in public squares, Christians are forcibly converted and assaulted, churches are burned to the ground, the annihilation of the Jewish people throughout the world is an ardent desire, and "Death to America" is a political program.
For the American Left, the primary threat to their way of life comes from people who oppose abortions and gay marriage and gun control. It comes from people who oppose unionization of government workers and nationalization of healthcare.
And it comes from people like Geller who state the obvious about jihad.
The reason that Islam is supposed to be immune from criticism is that for American leftists as for Israeli leftists, the only important battle is the one against domestic foes. And just as the abysmal results of leftist policies have left the Israeli Left with no choice but to shoot the messengers, so too the American Left must deal with policy failure by silencing the opposition.
In Israel, leftist appeasement of Palestinian terrorists has led to a horrific death toll and the obvious absence of peace. So the Left must silence those who have the temerity to oppose that failed policy. The Right's most visible members are the religious Zionists, who are disproportionately situated beyond the 1949 armistice lines, and so the Left must destroy them through expulsions, no matter what the cost to Israel.
In America, the Left's most conspicuous failure is its claim to promote women's rights, equality and civil liberties in the culture war, even as it defends the Islamic world's addiction to female genital mutilation, forced marriages, honor killings and executions of homosexuals for the "crime" of being gay. So the Left must silence critics of jihad and Islamism, and hope no one will notice its hypocrisy.
The upshot of all of this is that the Left must be denied its ability to dominate national discourses. Because Abbas and the pathologically Jew-hating society he leads is a threat to the Jewish state, while religious Zionists are not. And the assaults on American embassies throughout the Islamic world are not due to Internet movies, but to the savagery inherent in jihadist Islam.
In these perilous times we cannot permit ourselves to be led astray by those who insist we are our worst enemies.
Originally published in the Jerusalem Post.