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Friday, May 4, 2018

Palestinian president says Jewish behavior caused the Holocaust, sparking condemnation

By Siobhán O’Grady, Washington Post, May 2, 2018

In a speech broadcast live on Palestinian TV on Monday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivered what he called a “history lesson” in which he suggested that the Holocaust was the fault of Jews themselves

During his 90-minute remarks to the Palestinian lawmakers in Ramallah, he said European Jews’ “social function”–specifically “usury and banking and such”–was the basis for animosity toward them that led to their mass murder. Abbas claimed his views are backed by Jewish authors, whose books conclude “that animosity toward Jews was not because of their religion but because of their social activities.”

The comments quickly prompted backlash in and outside of Israel. “With utmost ignorance and brazen gall, he claimed that European Jews were persecuted and murdered not because they were Jews but because they gave loans with interest,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted. “Again, he has recited the most contemptible anti-Semitic canards.”

Abbas has long been accused of denying or undermining the Holocaust. His doctoral dissertation questioned whether the death toll of 6 million Jews might have been inflated, and he argued that Zionists and Nazis worked together to send Jews to present-day Israel. But he has at times seemed to take a different stance: In 2003, Abbas said that the Holocaust was “a terrible, unforgivable crime against the Jewish nation, a crime against humanity that cannot be accepted by humankind”; in 2014, he issued a statement in which he called the Holocaust “the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era.”

Abbas’s remarks come at a time of deep tension between the Palestinians, Israel and the Trump administration: In less than two weeks, the United States will open an embassy in Jerusalem after Trump recognized the city as Israel’s capital, a move that has drawn global condemnation. Recent weekly protests by Palestinians in Gaza, which have led to deadly clashes between civilians and Israeli military forces, have increased the ill feeling.

Dennis Edwards: Get ready for the opening of the embassy on May 14th. 

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