Abbas has a history of Holocaust libel - editorial

His latest statements not only reinforce the libel of his unique Holocaust denial, but demonstrate once again that the 87-year-old Palestinian leader is not a partner for peace with Israel. 

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in Berlin, Germany, August 16, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/LISI NIESNER)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in Berlin, Germany, August 16, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/LISI NIESNER)

When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of committing “50 holocausts” on Tuesday, he not only deeply offended the Jewish people, but many others, including his German hosts.

At a news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, Abbas was asked by a reporter whether he plans to apologize to Israel and Germany for the 1972 Munich massacre, ahead of its 50th anniversary. Eleven members of the Israeli delegation and a German police officer were murdered after members of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September, which was linked to Abbas’s Fatah party, took hostages at the Olympic Village on September 5, 1972. 

“If we want to go over the past, go ahead,” Abbas responded in Arabic. “I have 50 slaughters that Israel committed... 50 massacres, 50 slaughters, 50 holocausts,” saying the last word in English.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid was first to express his outrage, which was later echoed by other international figures. 

“Abbas accusing Israel of having committed 50 ‘holocausts’ while standing on German soil is not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie,” Lapid tweeted in English. “History will not forgive him.”

 Jordanian King Abdullah meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, in the West Bank March 28, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN) Jordanian King Abdullah meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, in the West Bank March 28, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan called the Palestinian leader’s comments “despicable” and “appalling.” 

“The German government must respond appropriately to this inexcusable behavior done inside the Federal Chancellery,” he said.

While Scholz could be seen wincing at Abbas’s Holocaust reference, he did not immediately rebuke the Palestinian president, although he had earlier rejected his use of the word “apartheid” to describe Israeli policies.

“Naturally, we have a different assessment with a view to Israeli politics, and I want to expressly say here that I do not espouse the use of the word ‘apartheid’ and do not think it correctly describes the situation,” Scholz said.

German daily Bild reported that Scholz had felt constrained by time to object again to Abbas’s remarks as the news conference was wrapping up.

“Especially for us Germans, any relativization of the Holocaust is unbearable and unacceptable."

 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

“Before the chancellor could contradict this outrageous sentence, the government spokesman had already moderated the press conference – as usual after the last question/answer block – which visibly annoyed Scholz,” a Scholz spokesman told the newspaper. 

“The government spokesman then told the journalists who were still present, who could not help noticing the chancellor’s annoyance, how outraged the chancellor was about the statement and also that he had not had the opportunity to openly contradict [him] one more time.”

Later, in a statement to Bild, Scholz was more direct in his criticism of Abbas for downplaying the horrors of the Holocaust.

“Especially for us Germans, any relativization of the Holocaust is unbearable and unacceptable,” he said.

Conservative German lawmaker Armin Laschet was more outspoken. 

“The [Palestinian] leader would have gained sympathy if he had apologized for the terrorist attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics 1972,” he wrote on Twitter. “Accusing Israel of ‘50 holocausts’ instead, is the most disgusting speech ever heard in the German Chancellery.”

Abbas' behavior is not new

For his part, Abbas continues to perpetuate the lie that Israel is guilty of Nazi-like crimes, echoing his absurd argument in his doctorate from Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow that Jews helped perpetrate the Holocaust.

His 1982 dissertation infamously claimed that Zionists collaborated with the Nazis in order to spur more Jewish immigration to Palestine. 

“The Zionist movement led a broad campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule, in order to arouse the government’s hatred of them, to fuel vengeance against them and to expand the mass extermination,” he wrote, asserting that Zionists were the Third Reich’s “basic partner in crime.”

The thesis was published as an Arabic book in 1984, titled The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism, and republished in 2011.

Abbas’s true colors once again emerged in Berlin on Tuesday. 

His latest statements not only reinforce the libel of his unique Holocaust denial, but demonstrate once again that the 87-year-old Palestinian leader is not a partner for peace with Israel.