Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has just hired a new adviser, the Jerusalem Post reports. Mahmoud Awad Damra is one of the prisoners Israel freed to ransom kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit in October; he was then five years into a 15-year sentence for his role as planner and logistics coordinator of several deadly terror attacks whose victims included three U.S. citizens. That, combined with his previous job running Yasser Arafat’s Force 17 security service, clearly qualifies him for his new role of advising Abbas on local government.
Two weeks ago, during a working visit to Turkey, Abbas took time out to meet with Amna Muna and 10 other convicted terrorists who were also freed in the Shalit deal, but whom Israel considered particularly dangerous and therefore refused to allow back into the West Bank. Muna used an Internet romance with a 16-year-old Israeli to lure him to Ramallah, where her partners in crime murdered him. When Israel protested this meeting, Abbas adviser Nimer Hamad insisted it was “natural” for a president to “meet his people wherever they are.” But of course: American and European presidents always make a point of meeting with convicted murderers during overseas trips – just like they always hire convicted terrorists as special advisers. Isn’t that how “moderate,” “peace-seeking” leaders are supposed to behave?
Then there’s the children’s magazine Zayzafuna, which is partially funded by the PA and has several PA officials on its advisory board, including Deputy Education Minister Jihad Zakarneh. As Palestinian Media Watch revealed in a damning expose, the magazine combines genuinely positive educational content with gems like an essay by a teenage girl citing Hitler as one of her four heroes, because he’s “the one who killed the Jews.” The essay describes a dream in which she meets all four; Hitler receives her thanks for the sage advice he offers.
After PMW’s report was published, the Simon Wiesenthal Center urged UNESCO to end its support for the magazine, and surprisingly, UNESCO promised to do so. But there’s been no similar contrition from the PA. Indeed, as PMW noted, the latest issue of Zayzafuna contains new gems: an essay by a school principal lauding Arafat for demanding “the liberation of all the Palestinian land, without bargaining, without compromise,” and a map that makes the same point by showing all of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza painted as a Palestinian flag.
All this begs the question of why American taxpayers should be supporting such activity: While the Obama administration demanded UNESCO halt funding for Zayzafuna, it has simultaneously been urging Congress to approve funding for the PA – and since money is fungible, that helps Abbas finance projects like the magazine and Damra’s salary.
But it also underscores the absurdity of expecting the recent unity deal between Abbas’s Fatah party and Hamas to moderate the latter. When it comes to inciting terror and promulgating hatred of Jews and Israel, Hamas has nothing to teach Abbas, only something to learn: For unlike Hamas, Abbas has figured out how to traffic in hatred while still being lauded worldwide as a peace-maker.