Expert: Al Jazeera Holocaust Denial Video Reflects Widely-Held Views in Arab World
An Israeli expert told The Algemeiner on Tuesday that a recently-published Al Jazeera video that questioned the Holocaust, causing an international outcry, was based on the writings of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and reflected widespread attitudes in the Arab world.
Dr. Edy Cohen of the Kedem Forum is author of The Holocaust in the Eyes of Mahmoud Abbas, which examined a book penned by Abbas in the 1980s that denied the Holocaust yet simultaneously claimed it was the result of a Nazi-Zionist plot.
The controversial video in question was uploaded online by AJ+ Arabic, which is run by Al Jazeera, the extremely popular Qatar-based Arabic-language satellite channel, on Friday.
Narrated by Al Jazeera producer Muna Hawwa, the video was titled, “The Gas Chambers Killed Millions of Jews — That’s How the Story Goes. What Is the Truth behind the Holocaust and How Did the Zionist Movement Benefit from It?”
According to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), in the video Hawwa called the Holocaust a “narrative” that was “adopted by the Zionist movement” and was “being reiterated every year on the so-called ‘Holocaust Memorial Day.’”
She also stated, “The number of victims of the Holocaust remains one of the most prominent historical debates to this day.”
Cohen noted, “What Al Jazeera did was exactly what Mahmoud Abbas did in his book. Exactly the same. His book is being sold across the Arab world, and everything is from him. Why is everyone talking about it now? Because it’s Al Jazeera.”
Asked whether he felt the claims in the video were taken directly from Abbas’ book, Cohen replied, “Definitely.”
Cohen asserted that a double standard existed regarding condemnations of Holocaust denial.
“If someone French or British or American denies the Holocaust, God knows what they would do to him,” he said, but “when it’s the Palestinians, everyone is silent.”
Holocaust denial or minimization, Cohen pointed out, was common in the Arab world, as reflected in the Al Jazeera video.
“The Arabs have a few theories about the Holocaust,” he said. “First that the Europeans didn’t want the Jews, so they paid Hitler money to get rid of us. The second theory is from the Islamists — that it was Allah’s punishment, because we didn’t accept Islam, or because we sinned, Allah punished us with the Holocaust. The third theory, which is that of Mahmoud Abbas, is that we collaborated with the Nazis so we could have a state.”
Such beliefs, Cohen claimed, were nearly ubiquitous, with “90 percent” of Arabs holding such opinions.
A common saying in the Arab world, he said, is “too bad that Hitler didn’t finish the job.”
Also popular, he continued, was a quote falsely attributed to Hitler: “I didn’t kill all the Jews, I left some alive, so they will know why I killed them.”
In addition to Holocaust denial, the Al Jazeera video propagated conspiracy theories about Jewish power, saying, “The victims of the Nazis — who were following Hitler’s orders — exceeded 20 million people. The Jews were part of them. So why is there a focus only on them?”
Hawwa attributed this to “Jewish groups” with “financial resources, media institutions, research centers, and academic voices that managed to put a special spotlight on the Jewish victims of the Nazis.”
She then reiterated a popular but false story about Zionist collaboration with the Nazis, and said, “The persecution and the suffering — the much-regurgitated narrative of the Holocaust sorrows — paved the way for the Jewish immigration to Palestine.”
She then charged, “Israel is the biggest winner from the Holocaust, and it uses the same Nazi justifications as a launching pad for the racial cleansing and annihilation of the Palestinians.”
“The main ideology behind the ‘State of Israel’ is based on religious, national, and geographic concepts that suckled from the Nazi spirit and its main notions. So how can a Palestinian denounce a crime that has become the flip side of his own tragedy?” she asked.
After an outcry over the video, Al Jazeera took it down, saying it “violated the editorial standards of the network.”
“Al Jazeera stated today, that it has taken disciplinary action and suspended two of its journalists over video content produced on the Holocaust,” it said.
It further said that the network “recognizes the diversity in societies with all races, cultures, beliefs, and their values and intrinsic individualities.”
An Al Jazeera managing director said that the video lacked “due oversight.”