If a Western leader or politician claimed that Adolf Hitler ordered the annihilation of the Jewish people because of their “social role” as moneylenders and Nazi hatred against Jews was because of “usury, money and so on” they would be immediately ostracized.
Their career would rightly be at an end, and they would be seen as completely outside the norms of political debate.
If the same leader claimed that the Jewish people, or at least the European branch, has no ties to the Land of Israel, it would seal their fate as an unrepentant antisemite.
An antisemite who denies Jewish history, claims they obfuscated their past, and most damning of all, are completely responsible for their own oppression, would have dug the grave of their own career.
Mahmoud Abbas says antisemitic conspiracy theories and faces zero consequences
However, these comments weren’t made by a Western leader, they were made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who certainly has form in this arena.
Nonetheless, Abbas’s speech at the Fatah Revolutionary Council last month and later aired on Palestine TV was largely met with an international collective yawn.
It only received any attention at all because the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translated the speech and published it online.
There is little chance that the speech eluded the attention of local embassies or consulates, or foreign ministries around the world, which all have a multitude of Arabic speakers.
Some could argue that it received little attention because of Abbas’s long history of antisemitic comments, conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial, and distortion.
In fact, Abbas’s own doctoral dissertation at a Soviet university, and subsequent book titled The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism, distorts and denies central elements of the Holocaust.
There has rarely been a time when Abbas didn’t make similar assertions, including last year when he claimed at a news conference the Palestinian people have faced “50 holocausts” with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, yet his global position remains largely assured and unchanged.
Some assume that Abbas’s antisemitism is unrepentant but a necessary evil for a man who is still considered to be against violence and terrorism.
As a result, he is treated as sacrosanct.
To be fair, there was some condemnation of the latest remarks by some officials from Germany and the European Union, and in a rare and praiseworthy act, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo stripped Abbas of the Grand Bronze of Paris, bestowed in 2015.
Nonetheless, Abbas is astoundingly still considered the best chance for peace in the long-standing Israel-Palestinian conflict.
He is someone that – even today – many international figures call on Israel to prop up, support, and endorse.
That a man so filled with hatred for the Jewish people, Jewish history and Jewish suffering is seen as the best chance for peace should be outrageous and disingenuous but it remains the default position across the globe.
It is sadly the result of the soft bigotry of low expectations.
Abbas is not called out over his antisemitism as would someone in the West or elsewhere because it is seen as part and parcel of Palestinian discourse. It is almost expected, if not unreasonably tolerated.
The problem with this position– as troubling as it is – is that it is false.
It is not a standard Palestinian position, as much as Abbas tries and goes to great lengths to establish.
Palestinians are better than this hatred and part of the proof lies in the response by 100 Palestinian academics and intellectuals who signed an open letter to condemn Abbas’s “morally and politically reprehensible comments.”
They write that they “reject any attempt to diminish, misrepresent, or justify antisemitism, Nazi crimes against humanity, or historical revisionism vis-à-vis the Holocaust.”
This position is welcome but should be the norm.
It shows that Palestinians, even those highly critical of Israel, don’t need to resort to antisemitism and racial hatred to make their point.
Making Abbas an international pariah would send this message clearly and bolster these voices who condemn antisemitism.
It would deprive parts of the Palestinian national movement that soak their struggle in religious, racial, and historic hatred the oxygen to spread and legitimize their antisemitism.
It would thus make the conflict easier to solve, much like other national or political conflicts.
Finally, it would send the important message that hatred against Jews is equal to that of other communities and peoples.
If a politician denied the suffering of other peoples or claimed they were a result of their own actions, they would justifiably be ostracized. However, as some, like British comedian and TV personality David Baddiel, have pointed out recently, with a huge amount of justification, “Jews don’t count,” and antisemitism is treated differently from other forms of racism, creating double standards and discrimination against Jews.
For these, and a myriad of other reasons, it is time that Mahmoud Abbas become an international pariah.
No more justifications, No more excuses. No more distractions.
Abbas is a rabid antisemite, and his ongoing hatred of Jews should rule him out as a partner for peace, a global diplomat, or even a person worthy of a decision-making role.
The writer is the CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement.