During a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Tuesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was asked by a reporter whether he intended to apologize for the 1972 massacre of 11 Israeli coaches and athletes at the summer Olympics in Munich.
The question was not only relevant to the upcoming 50th anniversary of the mass murder committed by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September; it was particularly apt, given the fact that Abbas himself was named by the architect of the bloodshed, Mohammed Oudeh (aka Abu Daoud), as one of the three senior Fatah officials who assisted him in orchestrating the attack.
“If we want to go over the past, go ahead,” Abbas replied to the journalist. “I can list 50 slaughters that Israel committed from 1947 until today; 50 massacres in 50 Palestinian villages… 50 Holocausts.”
The statement was typical. Abbas always alternates between denying the Holocaust – as he did in his 1982 PhD dissertation, “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism” – and accusing the Jewish state of committing Nazi-like crimes against the Palestinians.
This time, however, he miscalculated the response that such comments would elicit. Though Scholz merely winced while hearing the Third Reich’s genocide of the Jews invoked on a podium at the German Chancellery – only taking issue with the Palestinian leader’s use of the word “apartheid” to describe Israel – he came out subsequently swinging with a tweet expressing his “disgust” at Abbas’s “outrageous remarks.”
Like numerous figures, far and wide at home and abroad, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid promptly reacted with anger.
“Mahmoud Abbas accusing Israel of having committed ‘50 Holocausts’ while standing on German soil is not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie,” he tweeted on Wednesday. “Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, including one and a half million Jewish children. History will never forgive him.”
A Palestinian statement
BEFORE ABBAS issued what much of the media has been portraying as a “walk back,” the PA Foreign Ministry released a statement bashing Lapid for his “attempt to protect the false narrative that Israel is trying to market in order to deceive the world.”
Lapid’s criticism, the statement went on, “proves that the occupying state has no desire to apologize for the crimes committed by the Zionist gangs against the Palestinian people. The denial by Lapid and other Israeli leaders of the historical injustice against the Palestinian people continues and show[s] the lack of a vision for peace that will lead to historical reconciliation and recognition of the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people and the establishment of a Palestinian state according to the decisions of the international community.”
Nevertheless, due to pressure on the PA from Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz (each separately), Abbas came out with a clarification in which he “reaffirmed that the Holocaust is the most heinous crime in modern human history,” and said that he had not intended to “deny the Holocaust;” he was only referring to “crimes and massacres committed against the Palestinian people since the “nakba” [the “catastrophe” of Israel’s establishment in 1948] at the hands of the Israeli forces… [which] have not stopped to this day.”
Well, that certainly clears things up. Not that Abbas’s vitriol and double-speak about “peace” – as well as his boasting about spending foreign aid on stipends for Jew-killers – are new. But because he keeps getting away with the transparent ruse, he has no reason to update his material.
Are Abbas's comments surprising?
NOR WAS it surprising, then, that prominent Palestinians praised him for his declarations in Germany.
“Mr. President, you are strong,” his Fatah faction captioned a photo of a smiling Abbas that it posted on social media. “Continue with God’s blessing and rest assured. We are proud of you and we are all behind you.”
This was just a taste of the sympathy Abbas received in the PA. As Khaled Abu Toameh reported in these pages on Wednesday, Fatah recruitment head Monir al-Jaghoub said that “no apology for our struggle for freedom” is necessary.
Fatah honcho Munther al-Hayek opined that, in Germany, Abbas “remind[ed] the world of the suffering of the Palestinian people, who deserve an apology for the crimes committed against them.”
PLO Executive Committee Bassam Salhi, head of the Palestinian People’s Party, wrote on Facebook, “[Abbas’s] statements in Germany that Israel has and continues to commit holocausts against the Palestinian people are truthful and express the position of the Palestinians.”
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine official Tayseer Khaled, another member of the PLO Executive Committee, concurred.
“The state of hysteria in Israel and the angry reactions against the president’s statements during his visit to the German capital were expected,” he said in a statement. “What is infuriating is the use of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews to justify the Israelis’ crimes against the Palestinians.”
Turning to Lapid, he added, “[B]e careful; your hands are stained with Palestinian blood. You [Israelis] have committed more than 50 holocausts. We challenge you to open your country’s archives about the crimes of the Israeli army, so that the world would know that President Abbas did not miss the point in his statements.”
Palestinian hatred of Israel
SINCE THIS hatred of Israel and desire for its destruction are as rampant among Palestinians as Holocaust exploitation for political purposes, the sudden widespread outcry over Abbas’s Germany performance is peculiar. As the research organization Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) pointed out in the wake of the event, comparing Israel to the Nazis is central to PA ideology.
Decades of examples exist, including from this year alone, which PMW has documented. But one purveyor of the vile distortion is particularly worthy of note in the current context: Fatah Central Committee Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub, who happens to head not only the Palestinian Football Association but the Palestine Olympic Committee, as well.
In a May 5 interview on PA TV, Rajoub called Israelis “the new Nazis who are committing acts of terror officially, and whose prisons are a matching copy of the source of Auschwitz and the death camps.”
This was a reiteration of a January 2 Facebook post in which referred to the Israeli government as “the new Nazis” and “the living and recognizable model of the fascist and Nazi thinking of the desire for expansion.”
In his Olympic Committee role, he called on participants in last year’s Tokyo Olympics – where, for the first time ever, a moment of silence was held during the opening ceremony for the victims of the Munich massacre – to refuse to compete with Israeli contenders.
This is the same guy who, in 2012, lauded then-International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge for nixing such a moment of silence at that summer’s games in London. According to PMW, after Rogge denied the request of the families of the victims to mark the terrorist tragedy, Rajoub wrote him a letter saying, “Sports are a bridge for love, communication and the spreading of peace between nations, and should not be used for divisiveness and the spread of racism.”
NO, HE WASN’T kidding. Abbas wasn’t joking, either, when he likened Israeli actions to Nazi atrocities – yet both suit-and-tie-wearing terrorists must be laughing at Israel and the rest of the West for having short memories that keep the contents of their deep pockets flowing into PA coffers.
Indeed, Germany, a key European Union donor to the PA, may have egg on its face at the moment. But the chance of its withholding cash to the “pay for slay” entities in Ramallah and Gaza when Scholz’s “disgust” dies down is slim-to-nil.