In an address at a Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting last month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler targeted the Jewish people for extermination because of “their social role, and not their religion.”
The remarks were translated and published by the Washington, D.C.-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) this week.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: Hitler Fought the European Jews Because of Their Usury, Money Dealings, It Was Not about Antisemitism; Jews from Arab Countries Did Not Want to Emigrate, But Were Forced to Do So by Israel #Antisemitism @PalestinePMO pic.twitter.com/k75UmycuyM
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) September 6, 2023
The 87-year-old Palestinian leader made a series of antisemitic assertions in the speech in question.
Among them were:
“The truth that we should clarify to the world is that European Jews are not Semites. They have nothing to do with Semitism.”
“The story began in 900 CE, in the Khazar Kingdom on the Caspian Sea. It was a Tatar kingdom that converted to Judaism.”
“[In the 11th century], this empire collapsed, and all its population left to the north and to the west. They left for Russia and Western and Eastern Europe. They spread there, and they are the forefathers of Ashkenazi Jews. So when we hear them talk about Semitism and antisemitism — the Ashkenazi Jews, at least, are not Semites.”
“They say that Hitler killed the Jews for being Jews, and that Europe hated the Jews because they were Jews. Not true. It was clearly explained that [the Europeans] fought [the Jews] because of their social role, and not their religion. Several authors wrote about this. Even Karl Marx said this was not true. He said that the enmity was not directed at Judaism as a religion, but to Judaism for its social role. The [Europeans] fought against these people because of their role in society, which had to do with usury, money, and so on and so forth. Even Hitler.”
“Everybody knows that during World War I, Hitler was a sergeant. He said he fought the Jews because they were dealing with usury and money. In his view, they were engaged in sabotage, and this is why he hated them. We just want to make this point clear. This was not about Semitism and antisemitism.”
Abbas also said that Jews living in Arab countries after Israel’s establishment “did not want to emigrate but were forced to do so by means of pressure, coercion, and murder” by the Israeli government.
U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt denounced Abbas, saying, “I am appalled by President Abbas’ hateful, antisemitic remarks at a recent Fatah meeting. 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.”
Thank you @StateSEAS for speaking out against this harmful antisemitic rhetoric, which only serves to incite hatred of Jews and further undermine prospects for peace. Such sentiments have no place in contemporary political discourse. https://t.co/sGx0IRvNtQ
— Combat Antisemitism Movement (@CombatASemitism) September 7, 2023
German Ambassador to Israel Steffen Seibert also condemned Abbas, saying, “The recent statement of President Abbas on Jews and the Holocaust is 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.
The recent statement of President Abbas on Jews and the Holocaust is 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.
— Steffen Seibert (@GerAmbTLV) September 6, 2023
Germany’s Representative Office in Ramallah tweeted, “We strongly condemn President’s Abbas statements at the Fatah Revolutionary Council on Jews and the Holocaust. History is clear: millions of lives were erased- this cannot be relativized. We strive to promote a dignified and accurate memory of the victims.”
We strongly condemn President’s Abbas statements at the Fatah Revolutionary Council on Jews and the Holocaust. History is clear: millions of lives were erased- this cannot be relativized. We strive to promote a dignified and accurate memory of the victims.
— Germany in Ramallah (@GerRepRamallah) September 6, 2023
Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan noted, “PA Chairman’s statement is not only an example of Holocaust denial & distortion, they use deeply entrenched antisemitic stereotypes. These reprehensible remarks must be unequivocally condemned by global leaders. We can’t stay silent.”
PA Chairman’s statement is not only an example of Holocaust denial & distortion, they use deeply entrenched antisemitic stereotypes. These reprehensible remarks must be unequivocally condemned by global leaders. We can’t stay silent.
— Dani Dayan (@AmbDaniDayan) September 6, 2023
This was not the first time Abbas has engaged in Holocaust denial, distortion, and trivialization. Last August, for example, he accused Israel of perpetrating “50 Holocausts” against the Palestinians since 1947.
Those words drew the ire of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who said in response, “I’m deeply outraged by the unspeakable statements by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. For us Germans, in particular, any relativization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable.”
Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa stated at the time, “Abbas’ comments are an outrageous attempt to downplay the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust, and are part of a long standing position by a man whose doctorate deals with denying central parts of the Holocaust. While Abbas’ comments are particularly egregious, they are unfortunately part of a growing global trend to trivialize and appropriate Nazi Germany’s crimes against the Jewish people.”