NY Times: After ‘Vile, Anti-Semitic Speech,’ Abbas Must Resign

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. (Reuters/Mohamad Torokman)

The editorial board of The New York Times on Thursday called for Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas to resign as head of the PA. With a “reprehensible” and “anti-Semitic” speech he made Monday to the Palestinian National Council, the editorial said, Abbas as “shed all credibility as a trustworthy partner if the Palestinians and Israelis ever again have the nerve to try negotiations.”

The editorial quoted extensively from Abbas’s speech. In the speech, Abbas said 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.

Abbas is no stranger to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, the Times said. “In the 1980s, he wrote a dissertation that seemed to question the widely accepted Holocaust death toll of six million Jews,” the editorial said. In 1993, it said, Abbas seemed to acknowledge that the Holocaust was a crime against the Jewish people, but it has been downhill since then.

Beyond the seeming impossibility of his being a partner in peace talks with Israel, Abbas’s actions as Palestinian leader leave much to be desired as well. Abbas “has weakened government institutions that are essential for a future state and refused to call new elections, thus overstaying his term by many years and preventing younger leaders from emerging. He has also failed to unify the Palestinians in the West Bank, where his Fatah faction dominates, with those in the even more desperate circumstances of the Gaza Strip, where Hamas holds sway,” the Times said. But “even in this gloomy climate, however, Mr. Abbas’s vile speech was a new low. No doubt he feels embittered and besieged on all sides. But by succumbing to such dark, corrosive instincts he showed that it is time for him to leave office,” the Times added.