Saturday, May 5, 2018

Did Mahmoud Abbas Apologize?

The headline tells the story, or does it?

The Washington Post headline tells us:

After outrage, Palestinian president apologizes for offending people in anti-Semitic speech

For what was Mahmoud Abbas apologizing?

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas apologized Friday for offending Jews by saying in a speech earlier this week that the Holocaust stemmed from hatred of Jewish banking practices — not anti-Semitism.

His remarks before Palestinian lawmakers in Ramallah on Monday sparked widespread condemnation and reignited accusations that Abbas is a Holocaust denier.

He claimed Monday that his beliefs were based on those of Jewish authors and said “that animosity toward Jews was not because of their religion but because of their social activities,” especially “usury and banking and such.”

In fact, there is nothing new under the Palestinian sun. Abbas has long been a Holocaust denier. What is new is that his political position has become so weak that he could be forced into apologizing.

But, was it a real apology? That means: was it sincere?

But on Friday he said in a statement that “if people were offended by my statement ... especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them.”

“I would like to assure everyone that it was not my intention to do so, and to reiterate my full respect for the Jewish faith, as well as other monotheistic faiths,” he added.

Of course, Abbas did not apologize sincerely. He prefaced his supposed apology with a qualifier: “if people were offended.” The phrase gives away the game: when you use it you are not apologizing. 

An apology ought to focus on the error of one’s ways. It ought not to be directed at whether or not other people took offense. It ought certainly not to suggest that some people might not have been offended. Focusing on who did or did not take offense says that those who took offense are especially sensitive.

If you say something offensive and stupid, you should take full responsibility for your action. You should eat your words. Abbas did not do so, and thus, Israeli officials refused to accept his insincere apology.


Ares Olympus said...

I see another name for an "insincere apology" is an "ifpology" like "if people were offended..." According to John Kador in Effective Apology, "Adding the word if or any other conditional modifier to an apology makes it a non-apology."

A problem I see with insults is my strategy to master my own anger first, and try to not take words personally. At least that's how I learned how to deal with bullies as a child. But unless I'm willing to visibly show my anger, it can look like I'm "insincerely insulted." since I've already proven I can take it, then what harm was done?

In contrast if I expose myself and explode in rage at offensive words of another, that outburst can trigger natural remorse in them, even if they were intentionally trying to provoke me. And there's no need for an "if you were offended..." qualifier.

Sam L. said...

"Insincerity" is Mahmoud's middle name.

Anonymous said...

AO, ever notice that your insufferable commentary here is always all about you? You should change your nom de plume to Holden Caulfield or some other adolescent at war with the world.

Ares Olympus said...

Anon, good try. If I write anything about me, it is because direct experience and reflections on direct experience are the only thing I can write authoritatively about, even if it is still all provisional. It doesn't take anything away from anyone else's knowledge or experience.

Anonymous said...

You are truly delusional. Read your own stuff. You’ll see.