German Authorities Investigating Criminal Complaint Against PA President Mahmoud Abbas for Denigrating Holocaust
German police have opened an investigation into Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over remarks he made during a joint press conference with Chancellor Olaf Scholz in which he denigrated the Nazi Holocaust — a crime under German law punishable with a prison sentence of up to five years.
Mike Delberg — a member of the executive committee of the Maccabi organization in Germany and the social media manager for the opposition CDU Party — filed a complaint with the Berlin police following Abbas’s comments at the press conference on Tuesday.
Questioned about an apology for the murder, 50 years ago, of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics who were taken hostage by terrorists from the radical Palestinian “Black September” organization, the Palestinian leader responded: “From 1947 to the present day, Israel has committed 50 massacres in Palestinian villages and cities, in Deir Yassin, Tantura, Kafr Qasim and many others, 50 massacres, 50 holocausts.”
Delberg told the German Jewish news outlet Juedische Allgemeine that he was the grandson of Holocaust survivors from the former Soviet Union and that his grandmother had survived the three-year Nazi blockade of the city of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg.
“Anyone who relativizes or downplays the Holocaust in Germany should be punished for it. It’s not just me saying that, that’s our law,” Delberg stated. “I want Mr Abbas to be held accountable for his statements.”
Berlin’s police department separately confirmed that the state security service had received a complaint about the “relativization of the Shoah.” The investigation is currently being processed in a specialist department of the State Criminal Police Office and will be sent promptly to the Berlin public prosecutor’s office for information and a further decision, the Juedische Allgemeine reported.
“The preliminary investigation into the initial suspicion of incitement to hatred under Section 130 of the Criminal Code is being processed in a specialist department of the State Criminal Police Office,” a police spokesperson said. Under the code, “whosoever publicly or in a meeting approves of, denies or downplays an act committed under the rule of National Socialism…in a manner capable of disturbing the public peace shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine.”
A major question centers on whether Abbas, as a foreign leader, can be legitimately prosecuted in Germany. German news outlets reported that the country’s Foreign Ministry was working with the assumption that Abbas enjoys diplomatic immunity.
However, a leading law professor told the Bild news outlet that he was skeptical on this point, and that Abbas had clearly broken German law.
“The comparison is completely misplaced and can therefore be evaluated as a trivialization of the Holocaust,” Prof. Michael Kubiciel of the University of Augsburg said. “The disturbance of the public peace is blatant.”
Kubiciel added that while it was unlikely that Abbas would face a trial, such an outcome was not out of the question, as Germany, while supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has not at this point recognized Palestinian statehood.
“The fact that Mr. Abbas was in Berlin at the invitation of the Federal Republic cannot be decisive, since many people accept an invitation from state authorities without enjoying immunity,” he said.
The furor over Abbas’s comments also drew in Scholz, who was widely panned for not immediately repudiating Abbas as they shared a podium at the press conference. “How can politicians ask citizens to stand up and intervene when they see antisemitism, racism or injustice of any kind, while the Chancellor is silent in his own house on such a matter?” asked Delberg, the complainant, in his interview with the Juedische Allgemeine.