Palestinians are coming out against dozens of Palestinian academics who had criticized President Mahmoud Abbas’s recent remarks on the Holocaust that have drawn widespread accusations of antisemitism.
Politicians lambast the open letter signed earlier this week by over a hundred Palestinian academics, activists and artists based around the world as “the statement of shame.”
“Their statement is consistent with the Zionist narrative and its signatories give credence to the enemies of the Palestinian people,” said the secular nationalist Fatah party that runs the Palestinian Authority. Fatah officials call the signatories “mouthpieces for the occupation” and “extremely dangerous.”
The well-respected writers and thinkers released the letter after footage surfaced that showed Abbas asserting European Jews had been persecuted by Hitler because of what he described as their “social functions” and predatory lending practices, rather than their religion.
In the open letter, the legions of Palestinian academics, mostly living in the United States and Europe, condemned Abbas’s comments as “morally and politically reprehensible.” A few of the signatories are based in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
“We adamantly reject any attempt to diminish, misrepresent, or justify antisemitism, Nazi crimes against humanity or historical revisionism vis-à-vis the Holocaust,” the letter added.
Many Palestinians are loath to a focus on the atrocities of the Holocaust for fear of undercutting their own national cause.
“It doesn’t serve our political interest to keep bringing up the Holocaust,” says Mkhaimer Abusaada, a political scientist at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City. “We are suffering from occupation and settlement expansion and fascist Israeli policies. That is what we should be stressing.”