Netanyahu, Ambassador Friedman Accuse Abbas of Anti-Semitism, Holocaust Denial

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during the Palestinian National Council meeting in Ramallah, Monday. (Reuters/Mohamad Torokman)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accused Mahmoud Abbas of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial on Wednesday after the Palestinian leader suggested in a speech that historic persecution of European Jews had been caused by their conduct.

“It would appear that, once a Holocaust denier, always a Holocaust denier,” Netanyahu said on Twitter. “I call upon the international community to condemn the grave anti-Semitism of Abu Mazen (Abbas), which should have long since passed from this world.”

Earlier, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman said in a social media post that Abbas has “reached a new low” by attributing anti-Semitism to the behavior of Jews,  Responding to a speech by Abbas Monday, in which he said, among other things, that the “fake Jews” of Europe were persecuted for their “social behavior related to usury and banks,” Friedman wrote that “to all those who think Israel is the reason that we don’t have peace, think again.”

Also responding to the speech was U.S. envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt. In his own social media post, Greenblatt wrote that Abbas’s comments at the Palestine National Congress meeting Monday “must be unconditionally condemned by all. They are very unfortunate, very distressing and terribly disheartening. Peace cannot be built on this kind of foundation.”

Discussing Jewish “history,” Abbas said in his speech that throughout the centuries, “until the Holocaust that took place in Germany, the Jews – who moved to Western and Eastern Europe – were subjected to a massacre every 10 to 15 years. But why did this happen? The Jewish issue that was widespread in all European countries… was not because of their religion, but rather their social behavior related to usury and banks.”

Abbas also cited the discredit theory of historian Arthur Koestler, who contended that many European Jews were descendants of the legendary Khazar tribe, which is believed to have adopted Judaism during the Middle Ages. The Khazar kingdom “later broke up, and all of its residents moved to Europe. These people are the Ashkenazi Jews. They have no relationship to Semitic culture, Abraham, Jacob and others.” He also cited other more modern conspiracy theories, including one that claimed that Hitler and the Nazis were actually supportive of the creation of a State of Israel, as a way to plant a European “colonial project” in the midst of the Middle East.

Israeli officials also responded with disgust to Abbas’s comments. Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said that “Abbas’s anti-Semitism is out of the bag, and now we see what he really thinks about Israel and the Jews. This man, who pays and supports the murderers of Jews, will go down in history as a Holocaust denier, a racist and an inciter of violence – that is, if history even remembers him.” Zionist Camp MK Nachman Shai said that Abbas “is ending his term in office in complete failure, and is wrapping up his political career shamefully. He is trying to gain his last drops of fame at the expense of the Holocaust. It is pathetic.”

Likud MK Oren Hazan said that Abbas was “one of the last Nazis alive, he sends money to terrorists who kill Jews and to their families, based on the number of Jews they murder. How dare he open his sewer of a mouth. The day is coming when he will end up like all the other Nazis – in jail or buried deep underground.”

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