Today has witnessed two of the most unlikely and astonishing statements in recent history. First came serial Holocaust denier David Irving saying that after coming across more information he concedes that the Holocaust did happen. Speaking at his criminal trial in Austria, Irving said "I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz."
"The Nazis did murder millions of Jews," said Irving, who answered the court in fluent German.
Secondly, a Hamas senior member Moussa Abu Marzouk said that "there's no doubt that there is a realistic recognition on our part of Israel, that Israel exists in the territory – and there's no signing agreements with an imaginary body but with a body that exists."
Now we can asume that the first statement was made under pressure of a potential ten years in jail and the second statement will gain political points. What we should keep in mind is that these things were said and once the genie is let out of the bottle it can not easily be returned.
The greatest lesson that we can learn from these statements is that we should demand action along with words. Too many times statements are held up as examples of something when the reality is very different. For years the PLO under Arafat was the greatest user of double-speak, they would talk a very peaceful game to the world media while funding and perpetrating terrorism.
We now expect Irving to undo the damage he has done for the last few decades when he has spread his disgraceful claims that caused untold pain to so many. Irving has to do a mea culpa in actions and travel around the world telling conferences that the Holocaust happened and he was historically inaccurate.
Hamas now have to live by these words and talk to Israel, find some ground to register not just our existence but our right to existence. Words are abolutely meaningless if they are not sincere and backed by intent and action. We have a right to expect that until concrete actions occur these words, astonishing as they are, are just those and those that said them still remain pariahs.