Mahmoud Abbas, who is at the same time head of the Palestinian Authority, chairman of the PLO and chairman of the Fatah movement, shared his theories about Ashkenazi Jews on Aug. 24, claiming they are the descendants of Khazars and that Adolf Hitler had Jews slaughtered not because they were Jews but because of their “social role” as moneylenders.
Abbas has drawn condemnation for the remarks he made at a meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council—the terrorist movement’s parliamentary body—repeating a number of antisemitic comments he has made in the past.
“The truth that we should clarify to the world is that European Jews are not Semites,” he said, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). “They have nothing to do with Semitism.
“So when we hear them talk about Semitism and antisemitism, the Ashkenazi Jews, at least, are not Semites,” he added.
“They say that Hitler killed the Jews because they were 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,” Abbas said. “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,” he continued.
Abbas also took the opportunity to once again lambast the British and Americans for the 1917 Balfour Declaration.
“The Balfour Declaration saw the light of day only because of the complete agreement between [Foreign Secretary Arthur] Balfour and U.S. President [Woodrow] Wilson. They were in full agreement about this phrasing. So America was a partner to the Balfour Declaration. Who invented that [Jewish] state? It was Britain and America—not just Britain.”
Denial and distortion
Steffan Siebert, Germany’s ambassador to Israel, tweeted: “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.”
Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan also took to X (formerly Twitter), saying, “P.A. 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.”
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan said that “just as Abbas blames the Jews for the Holocaust, he also blames the Jews for all the Middle East’s issues. The world must wake up, and hold Abbas and his Palestinian Authority accountable for the hatred they spew and the ensuing bloodshed it causes. There must be zero tolerance for Palestinian incitement and terror!”
In 2018, Abbas told a meeting in Ramallah of the Palestinian National Council—the PLO’s legislative body—that the Third Reich’s mass murder of European Jews was the result of their financial activities, not antisemitism. He described their “social function” as “usury and banking and such.”
Michael Oren, at the time deputy minister in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office in charge of public diplomacy, said in a tweet: “Mahmoud Abbas says money-lending Jews provoked Holocaust. … Now there’s a peace partner.”
Abbas later apologized if “people were offended by my comments.”
Abbas, whose doctoral dissertation—“The Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement 1933–1945”—contained Holocaust denial, drew similar ire last year when he accused Israel of “committing 50 Holocausts,” prompting German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz to express his disgust.
“For us Germans, in particular, any relativization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,” the chancellor said.
Neither new nor surprising
Dan Diker, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), told JNS:, “Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s latest Nazi conspiracy theory rant is neither new nor surprising. It reflects his 1982 doctoral dissertation written under Soviet sanction and today serves as the basis for Holocaust studies in the Palestinian Authority schools. What is shocking is that Israel and the United States and Europe have somehow tolerated this Hitler- and Stalin-style Jew-hatred in service of maintaining the P.A.’s stability as the lesser of other evils.”
Adam Levick, co-editor for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), noted the lack of response from political leaders and the media.
“The MSM [mainstream media]’s failure thus far to cover Abbas’s defense of Hitler should be seen in the context of the media’s consistent failure to devote real, in-depth coverage to Palestinian affairs, including the destructive behavior of Palestinian leaders that serves as organic impediments to peace,” Levick told JNS.
“The narrow framing of Palestinians and their leaders as merely victims—that is, their denial of Palestinian agency and unwillingness to critically scrutinize Palestinian society with the same powerful lens they apply to Israeli leaders—denies news consumers vital insight into the region about how antisemitism is among the more serious ‘root causes’ of the conflict,” Levick said.
Anne Herzberg, legal adviser for NGO Monitor, told JNS that “the abhorrent comments of Mahmoud Abbas reflect the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict. These racist attitudes are endemic in Palestinian society and have poisoned the minds of generations of Palestinian children. Yet, the international community still refuses to address this hatred. The failure to acknowledge Palestinian bigotry as the root cause of the conflict is the primary reason a solution has proven and will continue to prove elusive.
“Such egregious moral double standards are also on display in the consistent failure of Western leaders, including in the U.S. and U.K., to condemn the abhorrent antisemitism, extremism and glorification of terror by Abbas and other P.A. officials,” she said.