Mahmoud Abbas is the closest thing the Palestinian people have to an elected leader these days. He’s Yasser Arafat’s successor and runs the Palestinian Authority from Ramallah, in the West Bank.
Visiting South Africa last week for the Mandela memorial, at a press conference he was asked about boycotting Israel. Here is what he said:
“No we do not support the boycott of Israel … But we ask everyone to boycott the products of the settlements. Because the settlements are in our territories. It is illegal. … But we don’t ask anyone to boycott Israel itself. We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel.”
Supporters of the campaign to boycott the Jewish state swiftly came down hard on the Palestinian President, and of course it’s their right to disagree with him, but what Abbas said cannot now be un-said. He was absolutely clear.
So when your union discusses a boycott of Israel — including an academic boycott — it may be worth pointing out to “pro-Palestinian” campaigners that your view (opposition to a boycott) is the viewpoint of the Palestinian leadership, while theirs is the viewpoint of the terrorist organization Hamas and its allies.