A spokesman for the head of the Palestinian Authority has defended his recent antisemitic statements, arguing he merely cited “academic and historical” sources.
“What was recently attributed to President Mahmoud Abbas in a television program regarding the Jewish question was a quotation from writings of Jewish, American and other historians and authors,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement published last week by the P.A.’s official WAFA news agency.
Ramallah also expressed its “strong condemnation and outrage” over what it called a “frenzied campaign [against Abbas] for just quoting academic and historical quotations.” The statement did not name the authors Abbas was referring to.
“Mahmoud Abbas’s position on this matter is clear and unwavering, which is a full condemnation of the Nazi Holocaust and a rejection of antisemitism,” claimed Abu Rudeineh.
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.
“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, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
“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,” the P.A. president continued.
“I am appalled by President Abbas’s 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,” said Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, of the recent Abbas speech.
“I condemn these statements and urge an immediate apology,” wrote Lipstadt on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday.
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.”
The P.A. president 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.