On Tuesday night, August 16, during a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of committing “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians over the years. His claim met with shock and outrage, and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid pans him for ‘moral disgrace’.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of committing “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians during his press conference alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin. Israel, Germany and the US expressed shock and outrage over his claim.
Abbas’ claim drew strong condemnation, however, Germany and its leader has also been criticized for remaining silent and not pushing back at the time of the remark, only later. Many would call for a harsher response from Germany.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid tweeted “Mahmoud Abbas accusing Israel of having committed ’50 Holocausts’ while standing on German soil is not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie. History will not forgive him.”
Lapid’s predecessor Naftali Bennett claimed in a tweet that he refused to meet or have any political negotiations with Abbas during his year-long tenure because “a ‘partner’ who denies the Holocaust, pursues our soldiers in The Hague and pays stipends to terrorists is not a partner.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who – upon Bennett’s approval – have met Abbas several times over the past year, called the remarks of the PA chief “despicable and false” and “an attempt to distort and rewrite history.”
“The reprehensible and unfounded comparison between the Holocaust — which was carried out by the German Nazis and their enablers in an attempt to exterminate the Jewish people — and the IDF, which ensured the rise of the Jewish people in their homeland and defends the citizens of Israel and the country’s sovereignty against brutal terrorism, is Holocaust denial,” Gantz said. “Those who seek peace are expected to acknowledge the past and not to distort reality and rewrite history.”
“The German government must respond appropriately to this inexcusable behavior done inside the Federal Chancellery,” Dani Dayan, chairman of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum posted on social media.
Abbas was responding to a reporter’s question about the upcoming anniversary of the Munich massacre half a century ago. Eleven Israeli athletes and a German police officer died after members of the Palestinian militant group Black September took hostages at the Olympic Village on September 5, 1972. At the time of the attack, the group was linked to Abbas’s Fatah party, reports The Times of Israel.
Asked whether as Palestinian leader he planned to apologize to Israel and Germany for the attack ahead of the 50th anniversary, Abbas responded by citing allegations of atrocities committed by Israel since 1947, saying “I have 50 slaughters that Israel committed in 50 Palestinian villages… 50 massacres, 50 slaughters, 50 holocausts.”
Scholz did not immediately rebuke Abbas for using the term “holocaust,” the reason for which was the lack of time, as the press conference had been planned to end with the question to Abbas, a spokesman for the chancellor said.
In a statement to BILD, Scholz said that “Especially for us Germans, any relativization of the Holocaust is unbearable and unacceptable.” Nevertheless, Scholz’s office, did not put out a press release on the meeting with Abbas, and he remained silent on social media. He is widely criticized for failing to speak out, however, Abbas provoked most of the backlash for not apologizing over the Munich massacre of 1972 and for trivializing the Holocaust.
Many German officials have condemned the incident, including Germany’s Ambassador to Israel Steffen Seibert, who called Abbas’s comments “wrong and unacceptable.” “Germany will never stand for any attempt to deny the singular dimension of the crimes of the Holocaust,” he wrote on Twitter.
Former Christian Democrat leader Armin Laschet said Abbas’s statement was “the most disgusting speech ever heard in the German Chancellery.”
In the US, Deborah Lipstadt, the State Department’s antisemitism monitor, warned that Holocaust distortion can have far-reaching cosequences, and Abbas’s “unacceptable” comments fuel antisemitism.