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July 12, 2019 11:12 am

Why Is There a Double Standard for Regimes That Deny the Holocaust?

avatar by Moshe Phillips

Opinion

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Feb. 6, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.

One of the most prominent Holocaust historians in America is denouncing the Israeli government for its ties with Eastern European regimes that have not fully acknowledged their actions during the Holocaust. Yet, as far as I know, this same historian has not said a word about Israel’s relationship with a government that is headed by a Holocaust denier — the Palestinian Authority. Why the double standard?

In an interview with The Times of Israel, professor Deborah Lipstadt blasted Israel’s leaders’ relationships with the governments of Poland, Hungary, and Lithuania, “who have rewritten the history of their countries’ role in the Holocaust.”

I concur with Lipstadt’s outrage at the failure of those governments to fully acknowledge the role that many of their citizens played in collaborating with the Nazis. These kinds of distortions are only a few steps away from outright Holocaust denial.

But what is puzzling is that Lipstadt had nothing to say about Israel’s relations with a regime that is headed by someone who denies that the Nazis murdered six million Jews — Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

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Abbas was a senior official of the PLO under Yasser Arafat during the 1970s, and was deeply involved in numerous anti-Israel terrorist attacks. He then took some time off to complete a Ph.D. at Oriental College in Moscow. His dissertation was written in 1982, and was titled, “The Secret Relationship between Nazism and Zionism.” Two years later, it was published as a book by a Jordanian publisher, Dar Ibn Rushd.

The theme of the dissertation (according to translations provided by MEMRI) was that the Nazis did not murder six million Jews, and that the “real” number was “much lower” than six million and probably was “below one million.” Abbas wrote: “Many scholars have debated the figure of six million and reached stunning conclusions, fixing the number of Jewish victims at only a few hundred thousand.”

According to Abbas, Zionist leaders “collaborated with Hitler” and wanted the Nazis to kill those “few hundred thousand,” because “having more victims meant greater rights and stronger privilege to join the negotiating table for dividing the spoils of war once it was over.”

As a result, Abbas wrote, “the Zionist movement led a broad campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule, in order to arouse the government’s hatred of them [and] to fuel vengeance against them…”

The future leader of the PA also wrote: “The extermination of the victims was not carried out only in the concentration camps and gas chambers. Some of the victims fell as a result of their participation in wars and battles, and also due to starvation and disease that struck all the peoples of Europe.”

In the years since he became head of the PA, Abbas has had many opportunities to renounce his Holocaust denial. For example, in January 2013, he was asked about his dissertation during an interview with a Lebanese television station. He responded, “I challenge anyone to deny the relationship between Zionism and Nazism before World War II.” He also said that he has “seventy more books that I still haven’t published” that would prove the claims he made in the dissertation.

Last year, according to MEMRI, the official PA television station aired a biographical documentary about Abbas. The narrator showed a copy of Abbas’ book, and praised it for “exposing the relations between the global Zionist organization and the Nazi regime.”

Those who are troubled by Israel’s friendly relationship with the governments of Poland, Hungary, and Lithuania, should be demanding that Israel reassess its ties with the PA. They should also oppose establishing an independent Palestinian state. Because who would want to create an entire independent country headed by a Holocaust denier? Yet I am not aware of a single statement by Lipstadt opposing a Palestinian state.

Likewise, one might think that Lipstadt would have opposed the 1993 Oslo Accords and the $500 million annual US aid package to the PA which followed. Yet she was one of the guests on the White House lawn at that 1993 signing ceremony, and I have never heard her express regret for supporting the Oslo Accords. Nor can I find any evidence that she ever publicly called for ending US aid to the Holocaust denying Abbas administration.

No one is questioning Lipstadt’s right to publicly criticize the Israeli government. All I’m saying is that Jewish public figures who raise these issues need to be consistent. We can’t be selective about which Holocaust deniers or distorters we oppose. It shouldn’t matter whether the denier is a far-right European nationalist or a far-left, Soviet-educated Palestinian Arab. One standard must be applied to all of them.

Moshe Phillips is national director of Herut North America’s U.S. division; Herut is an international movement for Zionist pride and education and is dedicated to the ideals of pre-World War Two Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Herut’s website is https://herutna.org/.

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