Abbas apologizes ‘if people were offended’ by his speech on the Holocaust

JTA

(JTA) — The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas apologized to Jewish people offended by his recent speech in which he blamed the Holocaust on Jews.

“If people were offended by my statement in front of the [Palestinian National Council], especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them,” Abbas said in a statement sent Friday by his office, the Times of Israel reported.

“I would like to assure everyone that it was not my intention to do so, and to reiterate my full respect for the Jewish faith, as well as other monotheistic faiths,” he said.

Abbas, who has long been accused of Holocaust denial for his doctoral thesis claiming secret ties between Zionists and the Nazis, also condemned the Holocaust “as the most heinous crime in history.”

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“Likewise, we condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms, and confirm our commitment to the two-state solution, and to live side by side in peace and security,” he said.

Abbas’s speech has been criticized as anti-Semitic by various political figures in Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, the European Union and Germany, among others. The New York Times called for Abbas’s resignation in an editorial Wednesday.

In his speech, he said: “From the 11th century until the Holocaust that took place in Germany, those Jews — who moved to Western and Eastern Europe — were subjected to a massacre every 10 to 15 years.”

This “anti-Jewish [sentiment] was not because of their religion, but because of their function in society, which had to do with usury, banks, and so on,” he said in his speech at the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah on April 30.

In the introduction to his 1984 book titled “The Other Aspect: The Secret Ties Between the Nazis and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement,” Abbas wrote about the figure of six million Jews killed in the Holocaust: “In truth, no one can refute or confirm this number. In other words, the number of Jewish victims could be six million and could be much smaller — even less than one million.”

He added this “does not reduce from the severity” of Nazi crimes. In that book, which is based on his doctoral thesis from 1982 for the Moscow Oriental Studies Institute, he also accused the Zionist leadership of complicity in the Holocaust, which he says Zionists saw as a vehicle for increasing Jewish immigration into what was then the British Mandate over Palestine.