US antisemitism envoy slams Abbas: Goebbels speech an ‘affront to Holocaust victims’

Deborah Lipstadt says Palestinian leader’s UN address likening Israel to Nazi propaganda is ‘just outrageous,’ especially amid rising global hatred against Jews

Deborah E. Lipstadt, US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, speaks during her Senate Foreign Relations nomination hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Deborah E. Lipstadt, US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, speaks during her Senate Foreign Relations nomination hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Deborah Lipstadt, the US State Department’s top envoy combating antisemitism, condemned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday for likening Israel to Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief.

“PA President Abbas’s equating Israel with the lies of top Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels is an affront to Holocaust victims and survivors,” Lipstadt wrote on Twitter. “Especially during a time of rising antisemitic violence throughout the world, such rhetoric about the world’s only Jewish state is entirely unacceptable.”

Abbas spoke Monday at a United Nations event commemorating the 75th anniversary of what Palestinians call the “Nakba,” the word meaning “catastrophe” that denotes the displacement of Palestinians during and after Israel’s establishment.

It was the first-ever event at the UN General Assembly commemorating the Nakba.

“Israeli and Zionist claims continue by saying that Israel made the desert bloom. As if Palestine was a desert and they made the desert bloom,” Abbas told the event in New York. “These are lies. They continue to lie, like Goebbels, and they continue to lie until people believe their lies.”

Abbas also said at the event that the United Nations should suspend Israel’s membership in the body until it allows the establishment of a Palestinian state and recognizes a Palestinian “right of return.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses a Nakba Day event at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, May 15, 2023 (Ed Jones / AFP)

The United States and a number of other nations boycotted the event.

Speaking Wednesday at a briefing for Jewish media, Lipstadt said Abbas’s statement was so shocking that US officials accelerated clearing her tweet for publication, usually an arduous process.

Lipstadt is one of the foremost historians of the Holocaust, and assumed her government role last year.

“We found it just outrageous,” she said.

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