US rabbi wants to hold Holocaust commemoration in Ramallah

Marc Schneier says he is “working on some very significant events to take place within Muslim countries.”

Palestinians in the West Bank city of Ramallah (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinians in the West Bank city of Ramallah
(photo credit: REUTERS)
One of the American Jewish community’s most visible proponents of Muslim-Jewish dialogue has announced that he would like to organize a Holocaust memorial ceremony next year in the Palestinian Authority capital of Ramallah.
It is an “existential challenge now to identify Muslim leaders that will stand with us shoulder to shoulder that will stand up for the Jewish community and will defend the Jewish community and I am telling you those leaders exist,” Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding told The Jerusalem Post.
As part of that effort he stated that he is “working on some very significant events to take place within Muslim countries” on International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2015, which falls on January 27.
While holding commemorations in Jewish communities is important, it is also “preaching to the converted” and given that Holocaust denial is a problem in the Muslim world it is supremely important to hold “significant commemorations that will take place in the capitals of Muslim countries.”
Asked where he would like to organize such events, Schneier cited Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and the Palestinian Authority.
“I would love to do it in Ramallah to see if [Palestinian Authority] President Abbas would follow up” on his 2014 condemnation of the Holocaust, Schneier said. “To bring it to Ramallah and to have some commemoration there and this would be a follow-up to my meeting with President Abbas.”
In a meeting with Schneier last year, the PA leader called the Nazi genocide the “single greatest tragedy in modern-day history” and, according to the rabbi, agreed to make a public declaration on behalf of Holocaust-remembrance efforts around the world.
Abbas has been a subject of criticism in some Israeli circles over accusations of Holocaust denial because of his graduate thesis, written while studying in the former Soviet Union, which asserted that “a partnership was established between Hitler’s Nazis and the leadership of the Zionist movement” and that the Zionist movement “gave permission to every racist in the world, led by Hitler and the Nazis, to treat Jews as they wish, so long as it guarantees immigration to Palestine.”
In 2013 Abbas defended his thesis, saying that he “challenges anyone who can deny that the Zionist movement had ties with the Nazis before World War II,” according to a report in the Palestinian news service Ma’an.
The Palestinian Authority has been accused of distorting the Holocaust in the past. In 2011, a PA-sponsored youth magazine ran a feature in which Hitler tells a Palestinian girl that he “killed them [the Jews] so you would all know that they are a nation which spreads destruction all over the world.” Israel has been accused of the “exaggeration of the story of the Holocaust” by Palestinian news outlets such as the official PA newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida.
According to a poll released by the Anti-Defamation League last May, Palestinian anti-Semitism is “pervasive throughout society,” with 93 percent of respondents affirming anti-Jewish stereotypes, making the Palestinian Authority the most anti-Semitic territory on earth.
Sixty four percent of people polled in Judea, Samaria and Gaza affirmed that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust” while 84% asserted that “Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind.”
Abbas’s office said they have no information on this issue and have not received any request.

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.