I have to confess that Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, has rarely impinged on my consciousness before now. But that has all changed. Ms Hidaldo deserves high praise from anyone concerned about antisemitism. Last week she wrote to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw the Grand Vermeil medal awarded to him by the city during a visit in 2015, after his most recent comments on the Holocaust.
As she put it: "You... justified the extermination of the Jews of Europe during World War II with a clear desire to deny the genocide...I vehemently condemn your remarks, no cause can justify revisionism and negationism. The comments you made are contrary to our universal values and the historical truth of the Shoah…You can therefore no longer hold this distinction."
Her letter was prompted by Abbas’ latest antisemitic rant, in a speech late last month before senior members of his Fatah party in Ramallah: “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.
“Several authors wrote about this. Even Karl Marx said this was not true. He said that the enmity was not directed at Judaism as a religion but to Judaism for its social role.
“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.”
You might imagine that after so blatant and unambiguous a statement of his antisemitism, Abbas would become a pariah, or persona non grata among anyone concerned with Jew hate.
Well don’t imagine it, because the evidence of history is clear that nothing of the sort will happen. Abbas – elected to a 4-year term 18 years ago – will remain in post, the West will continue to send aid to the PA for him and his cronies to make hay with, and everyone will choose to ignore the fact that he is among the world’s leading and most powerful antisemites.
Last year, standing next to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on a visit to Berlin, Abbas said Israel had carried out “50 Holocausts” against the Palestinians. There was the usual condemnation – except from Scholz, who seemed to lose the power of speech when he heard Abbas’ remarks, and said nothing in response, until he eventually saw the international reaction and eventually tweeted: “For us Germans in particular, any relativisation of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.”
His latest Ramallah speech is a regurgitation of an earlier 2018 speech to the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah, in which he said that the pogroms and massacres which have been the fate of European Jews since from 11th century to the Holocaust were “because of their function in society, which had to do with usury, banks, and so on”. Israel, he continued, is a “colonialist project that had nothing to do with Judaism” and that Jews chose to remain in their home countries during the Holocaust rather than emigrate: “The Jews did not want to emigrate even with murder and slaughter. Even during the Holocaust, they did not emigrate. By 1948, Jews in Palestine were no more than 640,000, most of them from Europe”. He then turned the de facto expulsion of 850,000 Jews from Arab lands after Israel’s birth in 1948 into a colonialist drive: “Ben-Gurion did not want Middle Eastern Jews to come [to Israel]…but when he saw the vast land, he was forced to bring Middle Eastern Jews… that didn’t want to come. From Yemen they flew 50,000 Jews…They didn’t suffice with 50,000 Jews.
"Then they went to Iraq, which had large reserves of Jews”. He asserted that Israel agreed with Iraq “to take away the citizenship of Jews and force them to emigrate…They did not suffice with this and gathered all the Jews in Arab countries, from Morocco to Algeria and Tunis, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon”.
What was the reaction? Almost total silence.
But none of this should surprise anyone, because Abbas’s antisemitism has been the leitmotif of his adult life. In 1982 he was awarded a doctorate by the Patrice Lumumba University” in Moscow for his thesis, “The Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement, 1933-45”.
The thesis itself has never been published or made available, but a form of executive summary of it, written by Abbas, is. In this, he writes that “The Zionist movement led a broad campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule, in order to arouse the government’s hatred of them, to fuel vengeance against them and to expand the mass extermination.” Zionists, he continues, were the Third Reich’s “basic partner in crime”. In other words, the Zionists pushed for the Holocaust to facilitate the creation of Israel.
Jews are in any case doomed, along with Israel. “The vast majority” of Jews around the world reject Zionist dogmas.” Moreover, “The natural and objective process of Jewish assimilation” means not just the end of Jews as a distinct people but the end of Jewish emigration means the end of Israel.
In 1984, in the introduction to his book The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism (based on his thesis) Abbas writes that “the number of Jewish [Holocaust] victims could be six million but could [also] be far smaller, even less than a million” - and cites Robert Faurisson (a notorious Holocaust denier) in questioning whether gas chambers were used to kill Jews. The Zionists, you see, made up the bigger figure in order to win sympathy for their nefarious project. And they only captured and tried Eichmann to stop him from revealing their role in the Holocaust.
But, this is just the tip of the antisemitic iceberg. For a full – and riveting - analysis of Abbas’ doctoral thesis I recommend this piece by Izabella Tabarovsky in Tablet (Mahmoud Abbas’ Dissertation) which superbly places it in the context of Soviet ideology, distortions, lies and KGB propaganda.
None of the above is new information. It has all been publicly available for decades. None of Abbas’s various outrageous remarks are new or surprising. They are all based on his thesis and a worldview he has spent decades acting on. And yet every time he opens his mouth the same pattern is followed. First, it is as if it is all a terrible shock to discover some of his best friends may not be Jews. Second come the ritual condemnations. And third comes the return to square one, as if nothing untoward had ever happened.