JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Prime Minister Yair Lapid, himself the son of a Holocaust survivor, and others in Israel, Germany and the US expressed shock and outrage Tuesday night, after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of committing “ fifty holocausts” against Palestinians over the years during a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin.
Abbas’s accusation, made during a press conference alongside Scholz, drew calls for a harsher response from Germany and its leader, who has been widely criticized for remaining silent rather than protesting at the time and only later expressing displeasure with the remark.
“Abbas accusing Israel of having committed ’50 Holocausts’ while standing on German soil is not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie,” Lapid tweeted in English. “History will not forgive him.”
Scholz was widely criticized for failing to speak out. Der Spiegel, Welt, Junge Freiheit, and other media outlets ran headlines noting his silence during the press conference. BILD expressed shock that there was “not a word of dissent in the face of the worst Holocaust relativization that a head of government has ever uttered in the chancellor’s office.”
Responding to the criticism on Wednesday, Scholz slammed Abbas for his remarks, saying that he was “disgusted” by the remarks.
“I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,” Scholz tweeted in German and English. “For us Germans in particular, any relativization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.”
Absolutely shameful. Mahmoud Abbas in Germany refuses to apologize for the Munich massacre (which he helped finance) and accuses Israel of “50 Holocausts” in what @ArminLaschet called the “most disgusting speech ever heard in the German Chancellery”
— Emily Schrader – אמילי שריידר (@emilykschrader) August 16, 2022
Former prime minister Naftali Bennett tweeted that he had not agreed during his tenure as prime minister to meet with Abbas “or to advance any sort of diplomatic negotiations, even when facing pressure from within and outside Israel.”
“A ‘partner’ who denies the Holocaust, pursues our soldiers in The Hague and pays stipends to terrorists is not a partner,” he added, referring to repeated Palestinian complaints to the International Criminal Court and to monthly salaries paid by the PA to terror convicts and families of dead assailants.
Bennett did not refer to the much-publicized meeting during his tenure between Abbas and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the first meeting in a decade between a senior Israeli official and the PA leader. Gantz, also the son of a survivor of Auschwitz, criticized Abbas’s statements, calling them “despicable and false” and “an attempt to distort and rewrite history.”
“The reprehensible and unfounded comparison between the Holocaust — which was carried out by the German Nazis and their enablers in an attempt to exterminate the Jewish people — and the IDF, which ensured the rise of the Jewish people in their homeland and defends the citizens of Israel and the country’s sovereignty against brutal terrorism, is Holocaust denial,” Gantz said. “Those who seek peace are expected to acknowledge the past and not to distort reality and rewrite history.”
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman issued a statement branding Abbas a “terrorist who engages in diplomatic terrorism,” a “Holocaust denier” and a “sworn enemy of the State of Israel.” He said Abbas was “more dangerous than all the terror operatives of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar said Abbas’s “shameful” remarks were “part of institutionalized Palestinian propaganda based on false blood libels, with 50 shades of antisemitism, aimed at delegitimizing Israel.”
Dani Dayan, chairman of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum, called Abbas words “despicable” and “appalling.”
“The German government must respond appropriately to this inexcusable behavior done inside the Federal Chancellery,” he posted on social media.
Germany’s Ambassador to Israel Steffen Seibert called Abbas’s comments “wrong and unacceptable.”
“Germany will never stand for any attempt to deny the singular dimension of the crimes of the Holocaust,” he wrote on Twitter.
In the US, Deborah Lipstadt, the State Department’s antisemitism monitor, warned that Abbas’s “unacceptable” comments could have far-reaching consequences.
“Holocaust distortion can have dangerous consequences and fuels antisemitism,” tweeted Lipstadt, who famously battled Holocaust denier David Irving in court last century.
Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs also took Abbas to task for refusing to apologize.
“Mr. Abbas this is not how you advance the cause of peace. Leadership would have been to apologize for the murder of the Israeli Olympic athletes 50 years ago at the 1972 Munich games,” he tweeted.
Abbas has previously stirred up controversy for remarks on the Holocaust, including a 2018 claim that Jewish “social behavior” — not antisemitism — was the cause of Nazi Germany’s genocide of European Jews, which he later apologized for.
The PA leader’s 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.