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Mahmoud Abbas condemned for suggesting 'money-lending Jews' caused the Holocaust

Palestinian President said 'Jewish social activities' were responsible for antisemitism in the 20th century

    Mahmoud Abbas made the televised remarks on Monday
    Mahmoud Abbas made the televised remarks on Monday (Photo: Flash90)

    Mahmoud Abbas has been condemned for suggesting Jews themselves were responsible for the Holocaust through their “social behaviour” like lending money.

    The Palestinian President made the remarks during a lengthy televised speech in which he also claimed Jewish people do not have a historical connection to the Middle East.

    “The truth is that this project is a colonial project aimed at planting foreign bodies in the region,” he said.

    “But this does not mean we should uproot them. We should co-exist with them on the basis of a two-state solution."

    But Mr Abbas then proceeded to describe what he termed the causes of antisemitism in Europe in the 20th century, saying these views were based on books written by Jewish authors.

    “The conclusion of these books is that animosity toward Jews was not because of their religion, but because of their social activities,” he said, listing money-lending among them.

    The comments attracted widespread international condemnation.

    Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said Mr Abbas’s remarks “reflects once again the depth and persistency of the antisemitic attitudes he harbours”.

    “With public speeches like these, it is not surprising that under Abbas’ leadership, the Palestinian Authority has failed to renounce and combat Palestinian antisemitic incitement, including narratives that Jews are to blame for the Holocaust and other antisemitic persecution, and which deny or diminish the millennial Jewish presence in and connection to the Land of Israel,” he said.

    Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Israeli minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the remarks were “antisemitic and pathetic”.

    He tweeted: “A man who denies the Jewish people's connection to the Land of Israel that is thousands of years old, blames the Jews for the Holocaust & claims that Hitler helped Jews has lost all connection to reality & does not want peace.”

    The Palestinian president has been accused of Holocaust denial before.

    His doctorate resulted in a book entitled The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism, which was claimed to have downplayed the number of people killed in death camps during the Second World War.

    But he later said in a newspaper interview that he never questioned the death toll.

    "I have no desire to argue with the figures. The Holocaust was a terrible, unforgivable crime against the Jewish nation, a crime against humanity that cannot be accepted by humankind," he told Haaretz in 2003.

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