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Mahmoud Abbas and the 'monstrous lie' of the 50 Holocausts committed by Israel against Palestinians

Comparison to systematic killing of 6 million Jews draws global ire and calls for an apology

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas answers questions from journalists at a press conference after his talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Aug. 16, 2022 (Photo: DPA/Picture Alliance)

Rather than apologize when asked by a reporter whether he regretted the murder of 11 Israelis at the hands of Palestinians 50 years ago at the Munich Olympics, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas instead shifted the blame – saying Israel has committed “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians.

Making the false claim all the more outrageous, Abbas compared the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Holocaust in an address to a German crowd on German soil while standing next to Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Tuesday.

Abbas later walked back his statement.

A reporter asked the Palestinian leader whether he would apologize to Israel ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Munich Olympic massacre in which members of a Palestinian militant group took the Israeli team hostage on Sept. 5, 1972, killing 11 of them as well as a German police officer.

Refusing to apologize, Abbas instead compared the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Nazis’ slaughter of 6 million Jews. 

“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...” Then he switched to English and used the words “50 Holocausts.”

Scholz looked shocked, but did not contradict Abbas at the moment. He later told a German newspaper that the use of the word is “unbearable and unacceptable,” and on Wednesday wrote this on Twitter: “I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. For us Germans in particular, any relativization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.”

Expectedly, Abbas’ comments drew instant and furious backlash from across Israel.

“Mahmoud Abbas accusing Israel of having committed ’50 Holocausts’ while standing on German soil is not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie,” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on social media. "Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, including one and a half million Jewish children. History will never forgive him.”

Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett noted that during his tenure, he refused to meet with Abbas. 

“As prime minister, I did not agree to meet Abu Mazen, or promote any political negotiations with him, even in the face of domestic and foreign pressures. A ‘partner’ who denies the Holocaust, persecutes our soldiers in The Hague and pays salaries to terrorists is not a partner,” Bennett said. 

The Palestinian news agency, Wafa, did not mention this aspect of Abbas' meetings in Germany but instead said the president briefed the chancellor on "the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and their properties, and Muslim and Christian holy sites as well as on the unprecedented settlement acceleration and seizure of land."

"They also discussed the latest political developments in the region, efforts exerted to revive the peace process, and the bilateral relations between the two countries," the news agency reported.

According to the article, Wafa did not mention whether the top three Palestinian newspapers covered Abbas' Holocaust comments in their reporting from Germany.

INTERNATIONAL REBUKE

Germany’s BILD newspaper emblazoned the headline “Anti-Semitism scandal at the federal chancellery” on its website and noted its shock that “not a word of dissent [was offered] in the face of the worst Holocaust relativization that a head of government has ever uttered in the chancellor’s office.”

Conservative German lawmaker Armin Laschet called Abbas’ comments “disgusting.”

“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.”

German Ambassador to Israel Steffen Seibert said, "Germany will always stand against any attempt to deny the tremendous dimensions of the crimes committed during the Holocaust."

The Anti-Defamation League said on Twitter that this type of "hateful rhetoric ...is simply unacceptable."

"There's no justification for invoking the Holocaust when speaking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – in Germany of all places. He must immediately retract his statement," the organization said.

Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan called the statement "despicable, disgusting and a new low."

United States Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism Deborah E. Lipstadt warned that "Holocaust distortion can have dangerous consequences and fuels anti-Semitism."

Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party seized the opportunity to make a political statement ahead of the November elections saying that "Abbas' Holocaust denial is shocking and dangerous, and the obsessive cooperation of Lapid and [Defense Minister Benny] Gantz with him and his followers is equally dangerous."

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

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