Ashkenazi Jews stem from Europe, not the Middle East, and were murdered during the Holocaust due to hatred against them for their historic role as money lenders, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in a speech that sparked an international furor.
“They say that [Nazi leader Adolph] Hitler killed the Jews for being Jews. Not true,” Abbas said.
Hitler, however, said “he fought the Jews because they were dealing with users and money,” Abbas told a meeting of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council on August 24th.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: Hitler Fought the European Jews Because of Their Usury, Money Dealings, It Was Not about Antisemitism.This is the same Mahmoud Abbas whose doctoral dissertation is known for its Holocaust denial.pic.twitter.com/1AhTeFM2b9— Israel ישראל (@Israel) September 6, 2023
Reactions to Abbas' statements
United States Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt said she was “appalled” by the “hateful remarks.”
“The speech maligned the Jewish people, distorted the Holocaust, and misrepresented the tragic exodus of Jews from Arab countries. I condemn these statements and urge an immediate apology,” Lipstadt stated.
Germany’s Ambassador to Israel Stephan Seibert said Abbas’ speech was “an insult to the memory of millions of murdered men, women and children. The Palestinians deserve to hear the historical truth from their leader, not such distortions.”Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, defended Abbas, explaining that his words had been taken out of context.
Abbas was describing the views of authors and historians of the Holocaust, including those who are Jewish and American, he said, according to the WAFA, the Palestine news agency.
“President Mahmoud Abbas's position on this matter is clear and unwavering, which is a full condemnation of the Nazi Holocaust and a rejection of anti-Semitism.”
“We express our strong condemnation and outrage at this frenzied campaign [against President Mahmoud Abbas] for just quoting academic and historical quotations,” Abu Rudeineh said.
Abbas’s speech was translated into English and published by the US-based Middle East Media Research Institute.
Abbas in that August 24 speech claimed that European Jews had no historic ties to the land of Israel, as documented in the Bible, because they were descended from a Turkish-linked tribe known as the Khazars many of whose members had converted to Judaism.
Palestinians including Abbas have put forward this theory as part of an argument that they are the true Semites, who descended from those who lived in this area during the time of the Bible. They argue that European Jews can not, therefore, be the largest of antisemitism. There is little evidence to back up the Khazari theory.
Still, Abbas revived it, explaining that, “The truth that we should clarify to the world is that European Jews are not Semites. They have nothing to do with antisemitism.”
He accused Great Britain and the United States of inviting the idea of Jewish statehood, explaining that “I am saying this so we should know who we should accuse of being our enemy, who has harmed us and took our homeland away and gave it to the Israelis or the Jews.”
Abbas also blamed the forced expulsion of Jews from Arab countries in the aftermath of the creation of the state of Israel, on Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and his British counterpart Winston Churchill.
The European Union condemned the speech, calling it “false and grossly misleading.”
“Such historical distortions are inflammatory, deeply offensive, can only serve to exacerbate tensions in the region and serve no one’s interests. They play into the hands of those who do not want a two-state solution, which President Abbas has repeatedly advocated for.
“Moreover, they trivialize the Holocaust and thereby fuel antisemitism and are an insult to the millions of victims of the Holocaust and their families,” the EU stated.
It noted that the “EU remains committed to combating antisemitism and racism in all its forms and will continue to strongly oppose any attempt to condone, justify or trivialize the Holocaust.”
The Foreign Ministry recalled that Abbas had written a doctoral thesis denying the Holocaust.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan noted that Abbas was due to take the stage to address the high-level portion of the United Nations General Assembly in two weeks, despite his history of Holocaust denial.
“What a disgrace! Where is the outcry?! Where are the UN condemnations?! Where is the media?!,” Erdan asked.
“The hypocrisy and double standards truly know no bounds. Abbas’ dangerous hate and lies must be condemned!,” he stressed.
Past historical revisionism by Abbas
In August of last year, Abbas created an uproar when he accused Israel of executing 50 Holocausts against the Palestinians while delivering joint remarks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
In May of this year during a speech at the UN he compared Israel’s rendition of its historical narrative to the kind of misinformation disseminated by Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels during World War II.
“The Israelis and Zionists continue their false claims that Israel made the desert bloom,” he said. “Palestine was a desert, and they made it blossom, a paradise. They can’t but lie. But what can we do? They lie and “lie just like Goebbels. They lie, lie and lie until people believe,” Abbas said.