Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, on Wednesday lambasted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the “distorted” history lesson in which he said the Holocaust was caused not by anti-Semitism, but by the behavior of Jews who worked in banking and money lending.
“Sadly, Abbas has chosen to assault Holocaust remembrance by attempting to convert the Shoah into a propaganda tool, blatantly falsifying history to the point of accusing the Jewish victims as being responsible for their own murder, and transforming Hitler into a Zionist,” Yad Vashem said in a statement.
“His own argument is itself fundamentally anti-Semitic, insofar as it incorporates a centuries-old anti-Semitic narrative that equates Jews with monetary greed,” the statement said, adding that Abbas should study history instead of trying to give history lessons.
“Even basic acquaintance with Jewish history would teach Abbas not only that the Jews pursued, then and now, a wide variety of professions and occupations, but that the majority of them at that time were impoverished. Even basic acquaintance with European history would inform Abbas about the escalation of anti-Semitism throughout Europe during the second half of the 19th century and the start of the 20th, and that this was in effect the prime context for the murder of Jews during the Holocaust,” it said.
In a long and rambling speech in Ramallah on Monday in front of hundreds at a rare session of the Palestinian National Council, Abbas touched on a number of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories during what he called a “history lesson,” as he sought to prove the 3,000 year-old Jewish connection to the Land of Israel is false.
Abbas claimed that the Holocaust was not the result of anti-Semitism but rather of the Jews’ “social behavior, [charging] interest, and financial matters.”
He also utilized the often criticized theory advanced by Hungarian-British author Arthur Koestler that Ashkenazi Jews were descended from Khazars not ancient Israelites, and therefore had “no historical ties” to the Land of Israel.
And he charged that “those who sought a Jewish state weren’t Jews,” repeating a claim he made in January when he said that the State of Israel was formed as “a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism” to safeguard European interests.
Abbas made no mention of the Jews’ historic presence and periods of sovereignty in the Holy Land. Israel is the only place where the Jews have ever been sovereign or sought sovereignty.
Yad Vashem also slammed Abbas for his inferral that the agreement between the Nazis and German Jews which enabled some 60,000 of the latter to leave Germany for Palestine between 1933 and 1939 and transfer some of their money through the Anglo-Palestine bank, made Hitler in effect a supporter of Zionism.
Hitler’s views about Zionism were made abundantly clear in his book Mein Kampf, published in 1925, Yad Vashem said, where he wrote: “All they want is a central organization for their international world swindle, endowed with its own sovereign rights and removed from the intervention of other states: a haven for convicted scoundrels and a university for budding crooks.”
The transfer agreement was not altruistic but formed part of an early anti-Jewish policy to get as many Jews out of Germany as possible, and Hitler himself was not involved with it anyway.
In the book, the Nazi leader actually wrote that the aim of Zionism was “the establishment of a central organization for their [the Jews’] worldwide swindle, endowed with its own sovereign rights and removed from the intervention of other states: a haven for convicted scoundrels and a university for budding crooks.”
Hitler had been quite clear about his plan for the Jews when he told the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, in 1941 that once German forces had broken through from the southern Caucasus region into the Middle East, “Germany’s goal will be the extermination of the Jews who reside in Arab territories under British rule” (as noted in the meeting’s minutes).”
The Palestinian leader has a long history of Holocaust denial. His 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. The dissertation reportedly claimed that the six million figure of Holocaust victims was hugely exaggerated and that Zionist leaders cooperated with the Nazis.