The US and EU have criticized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for his recent remarks on the Holocaust and the origins of European Jews, accusing him of making antisemitic comments and distorting history. In a speech to senior members of his Fatah Party in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in August, Abbas claimed that Adolf Hitler killed Jews because of their social role, particularly their involvement in usury and money, rather than their religion.
Abbas argued that Hitler’s hatred towards Jews was not fueled by antisemitism or the concept of Semitism, as commonly understood, but rather by their role in financial activities. He further stated that European Jews, in contrast to their Middle Eastern counterparts, do not have Semitic origins and are therefore disconnected from Semitism. This claim echoes his previous suggestion in 2018 that the ancestors of European Jews were actually Turkic people known as the Khazars, who had migrated from the Caucasus region.
These comments by Abbas have sparked outrage and condemnation from various international figures. US Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism, Deborah Lipstadt, took to social media to denounce his remarks as hateful and demanded an immediate apology. She accused Abbas of maligning the Jewish people, distorting the Holocaust, and misrepresenting the historical exodus of Jews from Arab countries. Similarly, US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, criticized Abbas for his antisemitic statements, arguing that they undermine the prospects for a secure and peaceful future between Israelis and Palestinians.
The European Union also joined the chorus of criticism, asserting that Abbas’s remarks trivialize the Holocaust and fuel anti-Semitism. They consider his comments to be an insult to the millions of victims of the Holocaust and their families. However, Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, dismissed these accusations as part of a “rabid campaign” against the Palestinian president in the West. He reiterated Abbas’s documented stance, which condemns the Holocaust and rejects antisemitism.
The controversy surrounding Abbas’s comments highlights the sensitive nature of discussions on the Holocaust and Jewish history. Accurate representation and understanding of historical events are crucial for fostering peace and reconciliation between different communities. The accusations against Abbas reflect the international community’s commitment to combating antisemitism and promoting mutual understanding.
It is important for leaders like Abbas to be cautious when discussing sensitive historical topics to avoid perpetuating stereotypes or promoting misinformation. History should be approached objectively, with an emphasis on promoting dialogue, understanding, and tolerance among different communities. By engaging in responsible and informed discussions, leaders can contribute to fostering a more peaceful and inclusive future for all.