Joining Chorus of Criticism, Yad Vashem Slams Abbas Speech as 'Fundamentally' anti-Semitic

Israel's Holocaust museum says the Palestinian president has accused 'the Jewish victims as being responsible for their own murder'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian National Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah, April 30, 2018.
Majdi Mohammed/AP

Israel's Holocaust museum and memorial denounced Monday’s address by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday as “replete with anti-Semitic tropes and distortions of historical facts.”

Addressing the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah, Abbas asserted that the Jews’ “social function” in Europe, including money-lending, caused animosity toward them in Europe in the 20th century, rather than anti-Semitism.

“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 on its website.

“In order to substantiate that claim, Abbas relied upon quotes from Karl Marx, Stalin and others. However, his own argument is itself fundamentally anti-Semitic, insofar as it incorporates a centuries-old anti-Semitic narrative that equates Jews with monetary greed. 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,” said the statement.

Yad Vashem also rebuffed Abbas’ claim that a transfer agreement between the Jewish Agency and the German Nazi government, allowing some German Jews emigrating to pre-State Palestine to recover some of the money they left behind, constituted Nazi support for Zionism. “ Rather, it was the result of the initial stage of the Nazis’ anti-Jewish policy, which at that time sought to bring about the emigration of all Jews from Germany as rapidly as possible,” Yad Vashem said. “Relatively few Jews emigrated within this framework, and Hitler was not involved whatsoever in its formulation.”

In its statement, Yad Vashem also noted that in 1941, “as the Holocaust was taking place, Hitler made clear to the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, 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.’"