Monday, April 22nd | 14 Nisan 5784

May 2, 2018 4:08 pm

US Jewish Groups From Across Political Spectrum Blast Palestinian Leader Abbas Over Antisemitism

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avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council in Ramallah, Jan. 14, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.

US Jewish groups from across the political spectrum have issued condemnations of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ antisemitic statements made in a speech to the Palestinian National Council earlier this week.

In the address on Monday, Abbas blamed the Jews for bringing the Holocaust upon themselves because of their practice of usuary and other aspects of their “social behavior.” He also claimed Ashkenazi Jews were not real Jews and therefore had no right to the Land of Israel.

Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chairman Stephen M. Greenberg and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein stated, “We are outraged by the comments of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in which he placed responsibility for the Holocaust on its Jewish victims. This goes beyond Holocaust denial — which was the subject of Abbas’ dissertation. This is Holocaust glorification, exonerating the perpetrators and condemning the innocent Jewish martyrs.”

“His obscene comments deserve the strongest condemnation from leaders around the world as he exposes once again his true bigoted beliefs and hatred,” they went on to say. “There can be no more excuses or obfuscations for such blasphemous lies. Once again he proves he cannot be a partner for peace or coexistence.”

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) said it “unequivocally condemns Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ despicable and outrageous exploitation of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes in the book, going so low as to accuse Jews of bringing genocide upon themselves in some twisted attempt to disprove the Jewish historical connection to the Land of Israel.”

“Abbas’ address was nothing short of a repugnant litany of propaganda and conspiracies dripping of sheer anti-Semitic incitement,” the WJC statement noted. “We urge the international community to hear these remarks for what they are, and to denounce them in the strongest possible terms, rather than allowing itself to be lured into the Palestinian leader’s façade of intentions. This kind of anti-Semitism will encourage only further violence and hatred, not peace.”

B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin stated, “Abbas’ anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric is the height of maliciousness, and no one can expect to arrive at an agreement with a leader who peddles such anti-Semitic tropes. Abbas perpetuating vile conspiracy theories and falsifying history does nothing for the Middle East peace process. It does, however, elevate hatred to a new level.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, national director and CEO of the ADL, said, “Laden with ahistorical and pseudo-academic assertions, the Palestinian president’s latest diatribe reflects once again the depth and persistency of the anti-Semitic attitudes he harbors.”

“With public speeches like these,” Greenblatt continued, “it is not surprising that under Abbas’ leadership, the Palestinian Authority has failed to renounce and combat Palestinian antisemitic incitement, including narratives that Jews are to blame for the Holocaust and other anti-Semitic persecution, and which deny or diminish the millennial Jewish presence in and connection to the Land of Israel.”

Abbas was also not immune from criticism from groups on the left, who are generally more sympathetic to him.

J Street said, “There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of incendiary rhetoric. With diatribes like this, President Abbas only undermines the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Palestinian people, and distracts from the need for international action to help alleviate the crisis in Gaza and advance the two-state solution.”

Americans for Peace Now stated, “There is no other way to say it: Mahmoud Abbas’ speech yesterday, yet again, included vile antisemitic statements, which are completely unacceptable and are inconsistent with efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

Truah, a coalition of left-wing rabbis, called Abbas’ words “ridiculous and offensive.”

“It’s troubling that in 2018 we have to remind people that Jews aren’t to blame for the Holocaust and that we have a historic connection to the Land of Israel,” the group added.

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