By Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn
To judge by the account in the Washington Post, the recent statement about the Holocaust by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas was a game-changing reversal of Abbas’ previous Holocaust-denial.
In an “unusual step,” the Post asserted, Abbas released “a strongly-worded statement” in which he “denounced” the Holocaust as “the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era.”
Too bad the Post neglected to report the first half of the Palestinian leader’s statement.
Abbas actually began his Holocaust statement with these words: “The Palestinian people, who suffer from injustice, oppression and denied freedom and peace, are the first to demand to lift the injustice and racism that befell other peoples subjected to such crimes.”
Think for a moment about what he was saying. The Palestinian Arabs, he claimed, are the victims of “injustice and oppression” – that is, by the Israelis. Therefore the Palestinians naturally sympathize with other people who have been the victims of “such crimes.” Then he cited an example of such a “heinous” crime – the Holocaust.
So: the Jews were victims of crimes inflicted by the German Nazis. The Palestinians are, right now, victims of similar crimes, inflicted by the Israelis. The Palestinians recognize the Holocaust is “heinous” because they are the victims of other, heinous crimes – perpetrated by the Nazi-like Israelis.
It doesn’t require a magnifying glass or a complicated interpretation to understand this. It just requires looking at Abbas’s full statement – not just the half that the Washington Post and some others selected to highlight.
What many people don’t realize is that Abbas’ previous statements about the Holocaust involved a peculiar kind of Holocaust-denial. He never claimed that no Jews were killed by the Nazis. What he claimed was that the number of those killed was much less than six million; that David Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders actually collaborated in the killings so that there would be enough victims to generate world sympathy for Zionism; and that the Zionists inflated the number of victims after the war in order to score political points.
Nor were Abbas’ earlier statements about the Holocaust some youthful fling with extremism. They constituted his Ph.D. dissertation, written at Moscow’s Oriental College. In 1983, he published the dissertation as a book called “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and the Zionist Movement.”
He wrote that the Nazis may actually have killed “only a few hundred thousand” Jews, not six million. He claimed that Zionist leaders collaborated with the Nazis by giving “permission to every racist in the world, led by Hitler and the Nazis, to treat Jews as they wish, so long as it guarantees immigration to Palestine.” And more: “Zionism not only gave this permission but was seeking more victims in order to maintain equality with the sacrifices of other nations during the war.” Then, after the war was over, it was in “the interest of the Zionist movement is to inflate this figure [from several hundred thousand to 6 million] so that their gains will be greater.”
Abbas continued: “Since Zionism was not a fighting partner, it had no escape but to offer up human beings, under any name, to raise the number of victims, which they could then boast of at the moment of accounting…Having more victims meant greater rights and stronger privilege to join the negotiation table for dividing the spoils of war once it was over.”
Interviewed by the Lebanese Television station Al-Mayadeen in January 1983, Abbas reiterated: “I challenge anyone to deny the relationship between Zionism and Nazism before World War Two.”
Nothing in Abbas’s so-called “reversal” last week in reality reverses any of his previous assertions. His new statement is completely compatible with all his previous statements about the Holocaust. Fewer than one million Jews were killed – but sure, it’s “heinous” to kill, “a few hundred thousand” people. The Zionist leaders collaborated with the Nazis then – and they’re still acting like Nazis today, towards the Palestinians.
Those who want to believe that Palestinian leaders have become moderate and reasonable were handed a Valentine by the Post’s sanitized coverage of Abbas’s statement about the “heinous” Holocaust, which conveniently left out the first part of the statement about Nazi-like Israeli “crimes.” But this kind of selective, politically-motivated journalism cannot alter the fact that Mahmoud Abbas is still lying about the Holocaust.
Moshe Phillips is president of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia Chapter; Benyamin Korn, the former executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, is chairman of the RZA-Philadelphia.