2018-05-09 / Editorial

World leaders rightly condemned Abbas’ flagrantly anti-Semitic speech

We were encouraged that world leaders across the political spectrum swiftly called out Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his recent audacious and reprehensible anti-Semitic attacks.

Speaking to the Palestinian legislative body in Ramallah, Abbas, 82, blamed the mass murder of European Jews in the Holocaust on the victims’ financial activities, rather than on hatred of Jews. As critics were quick to point out, Abbas has a long history of spewing anti- Semitic tropes and then apologizing, as he did days after his recent speech seemingly failed to evoke sympathy for the Palestinian Authority.

“Apparently the Holocaust-denier is still a Holocaust-denier,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, evidently referring to Mr. Abbas’ 1982 doctoral dissertation, in which he challenged the number of Jewish victims of the Holocaust and argued that Zionists had collaborated with Nazis to drive more Jews to what would become Israel — the very theme Abbas alluded to again during the April 30 legislative session.

Besides Netanyahu, others who criticized Abbas included U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, the European Union, and Germany, among others. The Simon Wiesenthal Center labeled him “one of the true pioneers in the pseudo-academic field of Holocaust denial.” Even the more liberal-minded organizations and people have added their censure, including J Street, former Secretary of State John Kerry, former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, and the European Union. The New York Times has called for Abbas’ resignation.

Some pundits speculate that Abbas, who leads a governing system plagued by corruption and dysfunction and has lost support among the Palestinian people, was seeking to divert attention from arch-rival Hamas, which is behind the marches on the Gaza border. In the years in between writing his dissertation and now, Abbas has never been willing or able to muster the political muscle needed to forge lasting peace with Israel, despite Israel’s many overtures. Moreover, over the years that Abbas has talked the talk about non-violence as a means of creating a Palestinian homeland, he has supported terrorism, including naming dozens of schools, streets, sports teams, summer camps, and public squares after terrorists who murdered innocent Jews. And in defiance of U.S. law, the PA is continuing to make its vile “pay to slay” payments to Palestinian terrorists for their heinous murders.

We must agree with the words of Friedman, the U.S. ambassador, who stated that Abbas has “reached a new low.” “All those who think Israel is the reason we don’t have peace, think again,” he said. 

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