Israeli rights group admits employee denied Holocaust

Israeli rights group admits employee denied Holocaust

B’Tselem denounces remarks by Ataf Abu Rub, who said WWII atrocities are ‘a lie’; says it is investigating further

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Tuvia Tennenbaum (left) interviews B'Tselem researcher Ataf Abu Rub (R) (Screen capture: Channel 2)
Tuvia Tennenbaum (left) interviews B'Tselem researcher Ataf Abu Rub (R) (Screen capture: Channel 2)

The Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem conceded earlier this week that one of its employees denied the Holocaust, retracting an earlier statement which had initially rejected the allegations.

The organization condemned the remarks by researcher Ataf Abu Rub, who was recorded by an undercover freelance journalist in a Channel 2 report several weeks ago as saying, “It’s a lie — I don’t believe it,” in reference to the Nazi genocide of the Jews.

After the segment was aired, Abu Rub told B’Tselem that the statement was merely a translation of something a third person had said off-camera, prompting the organization to dismiss initially the claims of Holocaust denial. “Mr. Abu Rub said unequivocally that the Holocaust is a terrible crime against the Jewish people,” the organization said.

However, upon watching extended footage of the interview, the NGO admitted Sunday that its researcher made those claims of his own volition.

“In light of this, we ask to amend our [original] response on this matter, which was given in good faith, and clarify that a B’Tselem worker did say those things, which we reject with contempt and disgust,” the group wrote in a statement.

It added that it would investigate the matter further, and publish its final decision.

Tuvia Tennenbaum, the Israeli expat journalist behind the investigative report, had presented himself as a German reporter and participated in various tours in the West Bank, including those guided by B’Tselem researchers. In the course of his travels, he sat down with Abu Rub, who accused him — as a German — of supporting the Jews financially. Shortly after, Tennenbaum turned to a translator, not seen on camera, and said: “But ask him if he remembers that we also killed them.” Then Abu Rub laughed and said: “It’s a lie, I don’t believe it.”

Abu Rub went on to accuse Israel of killing Palestinians under the guise that those slain were part of the “resistance.” “What resistance?” Abu Rub said, adding that there is a “strong media and they are lying.”

B’Tselem is often outspoken in its criticism of the Israeli government’s policies toward Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the Israeli military’s alleged human rights abuses.

Last week, the deputy attorney general overturned a ban blacklisting B’Tselem from receiving national service volunteers. Sar-Shalom Jerby, head of the National Service Administration, said in mid-August that he had decided to revoke the human right’s group eligibility to receive volunteers was reached “in light of the organization’s activities against the State of Israel and IDF soldiers in Israel and abroad.” But his move was blocked by the Justice Ministry, and later the deputy attorney general, who said Jerby had failed to provide sufficient evidence.

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