Palestinian president widely slammed for alleged anti-Semitic remarks on Jewish banking role

Lewis Collier
May 3, 2018

"It would appear that, once a Holocaust denier, always a Holocaust denier", the Israeli prime minister said in one of a series of Twitter posts. "I call upon the global community to condemn the grave anti-Semitism of Abu Mazen (Abbas), which should have long since passed from this world".

He went on to say that the Holocaust was not the result of anti-Semitism, but rather of the Jews' "social behavior, [charging] interest, and financial matters".

The European Jewish Congress called on European officials to cease all contact with Abbas until he apologized.

In an unusual rebuke of a foreign leader, the paper said Abbas's remarks in front of hundreds at a rare session of the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah fueled anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and demonstrated that Israel does not have a trustworthy peace partner in the PA president.

An editorial in The New York Times published Thursday described a speech given earlier this week by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's as "vile" and called on him to leave office.

"This is why attempts to rewrite, downplay or deny it are risky", he said.

Abbas even credited Nazi leader Adolph Hitler with helping Jews immigrate to British Mandated Palestine by facilitating a banking arrangement allowing Jews to transfer some of their assets to a bank there.

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Abbas also repeated claims he made in January that Israel was a "colonial" project encouraged by Europeans who wanted to be rid of their Jewish populations.

US and Israeli officials on Wednesday slammed remarks by the Palestinian president about the causes of 20th century anti-Semitism in Europe. Apparently in the Arab world, too, Jews brought upon themselves the anti-Jewish persecution and violence they so often faced.

"Antisemitism is not only a threat for Jews but a fundamental menace to our open and liberal societies". The United States' ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, condemned Abbas' statements, calling them a "new low".

A veteran member of Fatah, the dominant faction of the PLO, Abbas served for decades as a loyal deputy of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat.

Among Abbas' failures included are the weakening of institutions integral to a Palestinian state and a failure to unify his governing Fatah party with Gaza's Hamas, while "overstaying his term by many years and preventing younger leaders from emerging".

Abbas's 1982 doctoral dissertation was titled "The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism", and he has in the past been accused of denying the scope of the Holocaust.

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