Abbas’ Denunciation of the Shoah — A Sincere Change of Heart or a Diplomatic Deception?

Today’s news brought something that seemed to be new. Mahmud Abbas, notorious as author of a Holocaust-denying doctoral dissertation, denounced the Holocaust. He said in a widely quoted statement, that  the Holocaust was “the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era“. I won’t argue with the statement itself. But why did a Holocaust denier say it? And why now?

The simplistic answer to the second question is that tonight Israelis begin the yearly commemoration of the Holocaust. On the other hand, the so-called “Israeli-Palestinian peace process” has recently broken down and US President Barack Obama blamed both sides for the breakdown. That is, Obama blamed not only Israel, not only Netanyahu, but the Palestinian Arab side too. This was because, among other things, Abbas, Palestinian Authority President, has allied his Palestinian Authority (PA) and his PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) with the Islamist jihadist Hamas movement, which is the de facto government in a large part of the PA’s territory, the Gaza Strip, and  therefore  has been a rival for the loyalties of the Palestinian Arabs. The overt nature of Abbas former enemy, and new ally, creates a problem. For instance, Article 7 of the Hamas Charter openly advocates genocide of the Jews as an Islamic commandment:

The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:

“The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees. The rocks and trees will say O Muslim, O Slave of Allah, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him. . . ”

[This fable is a medieval Muslim hadith or tradition passed down in several versions, among them those of al-Bukhari and Muslim]

When a known Holocaust-denier engaged in a diplomatic-cum-terrorist struggle against Jews teams up with those who openly advocate genocide of the Jews, albeit at Judgement Day –which will not stop the average impatient Islamic jihad fanatic from acting out here and now– then your Holocaust-denier might want to cover himself in the court of public opinion. What better way than to denounce the Holocaust and pretend that your new partner does not advocate genocide?

The above may answer both questions: Why did a Holocaust-denier say it and why now. After all, when Obama, who has consistently backed Abbas and the PA/PLO in the diplomatic struggle with Israel, turns around and blames both sides equally, then Abbas must have felt himself in trouble. He must have felt that he was losing a major supporter. Hence, Abbas had an expedient reason for denouncing the Shoah as he did. But suppose he was a Palestinian Arab leader and spokesman but had not authored a Holocaust-denying doctoral dissertation and was not teaming up with Hamas. Could we then conclude that he was sincere?

The answer is no. In fact the Palestinian Arab political movement going back to the Nazi period itself, admired and collaborated with the Nazis. This took place especially in the person of the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, and many others of his following. Husseini met with Hitler 28 November 1941 and expressed satisfaction when Hitler told him that it was his plan to extend the Final Solution to the Jews of the Arab lands when German troops crossed the Caucasus. At that time, Hitler said, the bell of Arab liberation would ring.

Two written records were made of the Hitler-Mufti discussion, one by Hitler’s secretary, one Schmidt, the other by the Mufti himself.

Here we quote from the German record:
The Fuhrer then made the following statement to the Mufti, enjoining him to lock it in the innermost depths of his heart:
1. He (the Fuhrer) would carry on the battle to the total destruction of the Judeo-Communist empire in Europe.
2. . . . the German armies would in the course of this struggle reach the southern exit from Caucasus.
3. . . . Germany’s objective would then be solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power. In that hour the Mufti would be the most authoritative spokesman for the Arab world. It would then be his task to set off the Arab operations which he had secretly prepared. . .
. . .
The Grand Mufti replied that it was his view that everything would come to pass just as the Fuhrer had indicated. He was fully reassured and satisfied by the words which he had heard from the Chief of the German State. . . .
The Grand Mufti thanked him. . . .
[emphasis added. Translated text in Walter Laqueur and Barry Rubin, editors, The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict (seventh revised & updated edition; London & New York: Penguin Books 2008), pp 54-55. The mufti’s own record of the talk is in Joseph B Schechtman, The Mufti and the Fuehrer (New York: Yoseloff 1965), pp 306-308.]

Only when Abbas owns up to the Arab role in the Holocaust can we even begin to consider whether he is to be taken seriously. We should also point out that in 1939 at the London Roundtable Conference, Palestinian Arab delegates demanded that Britain stop the immigration of Jews into Israel, then officially called Palestine, that international law (San Remo and the League of Nations) had designated as the Jewish National Home based, inter alia, on the Jews’ connection with the country’s history. Here the Arabs were demanding that the UK deny Jews refuge in their internationally designated national home when they most needed a home. The UK adopted that policy and it cost countless Jewish lives. This is not to mention what Husseini did while operating out of Berlin during WW2 and the Holocaust.

For more details, readers can consult three of my published articles:

Elliott A Green, Arabs and Nazis — Can It Be True [Midstream, October 1994] [here]

Elliott A Green, Nazis, Communists, Arab Nationalist Terrorists: One Camp, One Kampf [Midstream ]

Elliott A Green, Liars Among Us [Midstream May-June 2001] [here]

The Iconoclast Blog, New English Review, here. This last commentary is not by me.

Also see Jonathan Tobin on the Commentary blog [here]

About the Author
Elliott A. Green is a writer, researcher, and translator living in Jerusalem. He has published in Nativ, Midstream, the Jerusalem Post, and other publications.