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Abbas' and other PA officials' acknowledgement of the Holocaust
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Abbas: The Holocaust against the Jews
was "most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity"

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Mahmoud Abbas' recent acknowledgement that "what happened to the Jews in the Holocaust is the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era" [Wafa (the official PA news agency), April 27, 2014] is a very rare example of official PA acknowledgement of the Holocaust and that its crimes were directed principally at Jews.

Studying Palestinian Authority officials' statements and PA events publicized in the official PA media,
Palestinian Media Watch has found very few other examples of explicit official PA acknowledgement of the severity of the Holocaust and its crimes against the Jews and others.

Earlier this year, the official PA daily reported that the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs in an official statement condemned the "massacres against the Jews":
"[The Ministry] strongly condemned the acts of massacre that were committed primarily against Jews, as well as against other minorities, which are among the most serious crimes perpetrated by man against humanity. [The Ministry added that these crimes had been perpetrated] in a way incomprehensible and unimaginable to a free person, as part of a process of ethnic cleansing and genocide that will remain a mark of shame upon humanity's forehead forever." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 30, 2014]

However, in the same statement, the PA Foreign Ministry subsequently compared "the Israeli occupation regime" to Nazi conduct during the Holocaust, listing both as examples of "catastrophic evil in human history."

In 2012, advisor to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Ziad Al-Bandak visited Auschwitz. The official PA daily reported that the visit "was private in nature," and that "Al-Bandak did not deliver any official statement." However, Al-Bandak "laid a wreath at the Wall of Death, where the Nazis executed thousands of victims," and also "visited the gas chambers where Jews brought from all parts of Europe were put to death." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 28, 2012]

In 2013, during a statement criticizing Israeli politician Yair Lapid and accusing him of being "a racist politician who trades in the Nazi Holocaust and in Antisemitism," PLO Executive Committee member Tayseer Khaled at the same time also acknowledged the Holocaust, referring to "the crime of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews in the Second World War." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 14, 2013]

These expressions of recognition of the severity of Holocaust and Nazi crimes against the Jews by PA officials are rare. PMW has documented that the PA often
minimizes and distorts the Holocaust. PMW has also documented that PA schoolbooks teach WW2 history and about Nazi crimes, but leave out the Holocaust and all reference to the fact that the Nazi crimes were directed at Jews. In addition, the PA regularly accuses Israel of imitating the Nazis. Yesterday, PMW reported on a recent expression of this libel.
PA expression of
admiration of Hitler also occurs.

The following is the report by the official PA news agency Wafa on Abbas' recognition of the Holocaust and the Nazi crimes against the Jews:

This article was taken from WAFA's English site. The article also appeared on the Arabic site.
"In response to a question on the occasion of Holocaust Day, raised in conversation with Rabbi Marc Schneier, President Mahmoud Abbas said that: what happened to the Jews in the Holocaust is the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era. He expressed his sympathy with the families of the victims and many other innocent people who were killed by the Nazis.
President Abbas stressed that the Holocaust is a reflection of the concept of ethnic discrimination and racism which the Palestinians strongly reject and act against.
'The world must do its utmost to fight racism and injustice in order to bring justice and equality to oppressed people wherever they are.  The Palestinian people, who suffer from injustice, oppression and denied freedom and peace, are the first to demand to lift the injustice and racism that befell other peoples subjected to such crimes.'
'On the incredibly sad commemoration of Holocaust Day, we call on the Israeli government to seize the current opportunity to conclude a just and comprehensive peace in the region, based on the two states vision, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security.'"
 [WAFA (the official PA news agency), April 27, 2014]

PA condemns the Holocaust, but includes it alongside "the Israeli occupation regime" as one of "several chapters of catastrophic evil in human history"
This is a rare and positive example of the PA acknowledging and condemning the Holocaust and its targeting of Jews. However, the PA subsequently compares "the Israeli occupation regime" to Nazi conduct during the Holocaust, listing both as examples of "catastrophic evil in human history":

Headline: "The [PA] Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemns the crime of the Holocaust"
"On [International] Holocaust Remembrance Day, the [PA] Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned the acts of massacre that were committed primarily against Jews, as well as against other minorities, which are among the most serious crimes perpetrated by man against humanity. [The Ministry added that these crimes had been perpetrated] in a way incomprehensible and unimaginable to a free person, as part of a process of ethnic cleansing and genocide that will remain a mark of shame upon humanity's forehead forever.
In a public announcement yesterday [Jan. 29, 2014], the [PA] Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that there have been several chapters of catastrophic evil in human history that must be confronted and prevented from recurring... among them are the apartheid regime that blatantly dominated South Africa; the Israeli occupation regime and the domination of another nation, as in the case of the Palestinian nation, whose land expropriated, who was forcefully expelled from it, and who was robbed of land, freedom and honor.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the UN, its organizations and on all nations and specifically the permanent members of the Security Council, to take measures to protect humanity from these crimes' recurrence and save it from them now, and hunt down the perpetrators [of such crimes.]"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 30, 2014]

PLO official acknowledges Holocaust crimes against Jews
During a statement criticizing Israeli politician Yair Lapid, PLO Executive Committee member Tayseer Khaled acknowledged the Holocaust:
"PLO Executive Committee and Popular Front political bureau member Tayseer Khaled, condemned statements made by Israeli Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Yesh Atid Israeli political party Yair Lapid in his lecture at the Washington Institute... He [Khaled] described them as foolish and objectionable statements, which could only have been made by a racist politician who trades in the Nazi Holocaust and in Antisemitism, and uses them as a weapon of political blackmail. [The] purpose [of this political blackmail] is to deny the tragedy that befell the Palestinian people in 1948, its right to international justice, its right to be liberated from the occupation and its right to independence. Khaled reminded the Israeli Minister about the history of Zionist terrorism prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, [about] the mass crimes committed by Israel after its establishment and their consequences: the mass displacement of Palestinians from their homeland, using the force of a cruel army, and the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns, in the most terrible criminal act the world has known since the crime of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews in the Second World War."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 14, 2013]

Positive report from Agence France-Presse quoted in official PA daily: Senior PA official visits Auschwitz and acknowledges the Holocaust
Headline: "Al-Bandak visits Auschwitz camp"
"A high-level senior Palestinian official yesterday visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, the former Nazi camp in southern Poland. This was the first visit of its kind to the site that symbolizes the Holocaust. According to an Agence France-Presse photographer, advisor to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Ziad Al-Bandak laid a wreath at the Wall of Death, where the Nazis executed thousands of victims. Al-Bandak also visited the gas chambers where Jews brought from all parts of Europe were put to death. The visit was private in nature, and Al-Bandak did not deliver any official statement. The Auschwitz camp, established by Nazi Germany in 1940 in the southern part of occupied Poland, remains a symbol of the horrors of the Second World War and the Holocaust, in which 1.1 million people were annihilated, among them one million Jews."
Note: The mistaken figure should read that a million Jews died at Auschwitz alone, as noted in the English version of the AFP article: "Of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, 1,1 million were murdered at the site, mostly in its gas chambers."
 [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 28, 2012]