Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels was quoted as saying: “During a war, news should be given out for instruction rather than information.”
It is therefore highly ironic – and not a little instructive – that the President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas compared Israel and the Jewish people’s history to Goebbels.
Abbas has spent much, if not most of his professional life obsessed with the Nazis as a political and military tool in his aim to end the State of Israel as the national, ancestral and indigenous homeland of the Jewish people.
In his doctoral thesis from Patrice Lumumba Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia in Moscow in 1982, Abbas at the same time claimed that Jews helped perpetrate the Holocaust, and disputed the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
Abbas' lifelong Holocaust obsession
He has never walked back these claims, and the thesis has been republished multiple times in various book forms, and still appears under Abbas’ list of publications on the official PA website.
It is this life-long obsession with the Holocaust, that led Abbas to even brazenly claim that Israel committed “50 holocausts” at a news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin last year.
Abbas’ obsession with the Holocaust is part of a violent strategy to change a narrative and to put in its place a new one.
The first is to seek to change the nature and centrality of an event which he sees as ensuring the world’s sympathy in the late 1940s in favor of a Jewish State.
There is certainly some truth to the fact that coming so soon after the systematic annihilation of six million Jews, many nations felt both guilt and sympathy for helping to perpetrate this atrocity, or simply standing by and letting it happen. Others saw the moral justification of providing or returning national sovereignty to a people who could not defend themselves against genocide.
By belittling the numbers and scale, and claiming that it was somehow conducted with Jewish acquiescence, Abbas has attempted to place the blame on the victims.
The Palestinian leader wants to create a narrative that the true victims of the Holocaust are the Palestinians who were displaced by the returning Jews. This has become a regular talking point among Palestinian leaders in recent years, and has even been echoed in part by Westerners who liken the Palestinians to innocent bystanders who had been served the greater injustice.
Delegitimization of the Jewish state and Jewish history
THIS IS, of course, absurd and flies in the face of history.
Palestinian leaders, like Haj Amin al-Husseini were active participants in the Holocaust and egged on the Nazi death machine in Europe and the wider Arab world.
Regardless, Abbas uses, utilizes and appropriates the Holocaust, not because of any great interest or sympathy, but merely as a tool in his long war against Jewish sovereignty.
During his hour-long tirade during the special session of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to mark the 75th anniversary of Nakba Day (Catastrophe Day), Abbas constantly delegitimized the Jewish state and Jewish history.
His claims serve as the basis for the belief that the State of Israel has no legitimacy to exist and no legality to survive.
Taken to its logical conclusion, Abbas was using the language of war in his hope for victory over Israel.
His words were not meant for global public consumption. His carefully crafted Arabic was an instruction to his people and their supporters around the region and beyond, to continue to fight until ultimate victory has been achieved.
There were no words of peace or accommodation; his speech was presented in a bellicose and warlike manner, only days after his cohorts in Gaza rained over 1,000 deadly rockets on Israel’s civilian population.
His speech was the definition of a command to continue on the over 100-year path of genocidal Palestinian rejectionism.
And the world stood in silence.
Just as the rockets rained down on Sderot and Tel Aviv, the words of Abbas, dripping with violence and hatred, rained down on the heads of all Israelis and the Jewish people. The Palestinian leader even managed to get all of his regular talking points into his lengthy screed at the UN.
Abbas continually claimed that the Jewish people have no history, they had no previous presence in the region, they have no legitimate claims on national sovereignty, and they were merely a tool of colonial powers, namely the US and the UK. A people like this have no right to exist, and certainly no right to sympathy.
In his twisted logic, Abbas thinks Israel’s only remaining connection to sympathy is the Holocaust, so the more he can deconstruct it, the more he breaks down Israel’s remaining armor and international protection.
It is gruesome, but Abbas has never received sufficient pushback to prevent him from beating this particular drum of war.
Israel should fight back in this war of disinformation, but more than that, it needs to prepare for the war of instruction Abbas once again laid out to his followers, this time from the United Nations podium.
The writer is the director of the Middle East Forum Israel office.