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Mahmoud Abbas’ Continuing Legacy of Holocaust Distortion

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia November 23, 2021. Sputnik/Evgeny Biyatov/Kremlin via REUTERS

Recently, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas garnered a significant amount of controversy after the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) published a portion of a speech he made at an August session of the Fatah Revolutionary Council.

In this seven-minute excerpt, Abbas invoked a number of antisemitic tropes, including the widely discredited theory that European Jews are descended from Khazars, that Jews were persecuted by the Nazis due to their “social role” as usurers and saboteurs, and that Israel was responsible for forcing Jews in Arab lands to emigrate to the Jewish state.

As this clip made waves online, a chorus of condemnations was unleashed against the octogenarian Palestinian leader.

Government officials from the United States, Israel, Germany, France, and Canada all condemned Abbas for his historical revisionism and justification of the Holocaust.

The mayor of Paris stripped Abbas of the French capital’s highest honor, which had been awarded to him in 2015.

In their reports, most major news outlets explicitly referred to the speech as “antisemitic.” The notable exception was the Associated Press, which merely claimed that his comments drew “accusations of antisemitism from US and Europe.”

Even noted anti-Israel personalities such as Mehdi Hasan and James Zogby, condemned Abbas’ comments.

However, neither Abbas’ peddling of false historical theories, his justification for the Holocaust, nor his blaming Jews for their own oppression should have come as a surprise to anyone.

Abbas has been engaging in Holocaust denial and trivialization for more than 40 years. And as his recent comments show, the “moderate” head of the Palestinian Authority has no plans to stop any time soon.

Abbas’ troubling relationship with the Holocaust and historical accuracy stretches all the way back to 1982, when he published his PhD thesis on Zionism and the destruction of European Jewry.

Titled “The Relationship Between Zionists and Nazis, 1933-1945,” Abbas’ dissertation is chockful of antisemitic distortions, including the claim that Zionists collaborated with the Nazis against European Jews, that Zionism and Nazism derive from the same ideology of racial superiority, and that Zionists incited against the Jews under Nazi control in order to increase immigration to the Land of Israel.

Abbas also claims that the figure of six million Jews killed during the Holocaust was exaggerated by the Zionists for “political profit,” and that the number of Jewish victims is most likely under a million.

Soon after, Abbas developed his thesis into a book, entitled “The Other Face: The Secret Connections Between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement.”

Written in Arabic, this book expands on Abbas’ assertion that Zionist Jews were responsible for the annihilation of European Jewry during the Holocaust, while also further contending that those few who were willing to expose the nefarious connections between the Nazis and Zionists were killed by Israeli intelligence.

In his book, Abbas also questions the use of gas chambers by the Nazis, basing himself on the work of noted Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson.

With an academic background like this, it is no surprise that throughout his public career, Abbas continued to trivialize the Holocaust, distort its history, or use it as a battering ram against Israel.

In a 2013 interview, Abbas claimed that he had “70 more books that I still haven’t published” about the supposed collaboration between the Nazis and Zionists in the destruction of European Jewry.

In 2018, Abbas asserted that European persecution of Jews “was not against their religion but against their social function, which relates to usury and banking and such.”

In 2022, during a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Abbas accused Israel of committing “50 holocausts” against the Palestinians.

In both 2018 and 2022, following an outcry, Abbas appeared to walk back his comments a bit, describing the Holocaust as the “most heinous crime in history.”

However, as pointed out by Yair Rosenberg in Tablet Magazine, this description of the Holocaust falls within Abbas’ worldview.

According to Abbas, the Holocaust was a terrible crime, but it was the byproduct of collaboration between the Zionists and Nazis. In other words, Jews are the criminals responsible for the destruction of European Jewry.

It’s only a matter of time until Mahmoud Abbas makes another speech or off-hand comment that questions the extent of the Holocaust, or that blames the Jews themselves for the destruction of European Jewry.

Then, like now, will the politicians, media, and talking heads feign surprise and outrage that the “moderate” head of the Palestinian Authority could make such absurd remarks?

After all, he’s only been spreading his revisionist theories and ahistorical opinions on the Holocaust for more than 40 years.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The post Mahmoud Abbas’ Continuing Legacy of Holocaust Distortion first appeared on

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