Wednesday, May 2, 2018



Jews in Europe were massacred for centuries because of their “social behavior related to interest and banks,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday.

Abbas made the statement in a speech at the beginning of a meeting of the Palestinian National Council, a top PLO body that is convening in Ramallah this week to elect members to two other PLO institutions.

The comments marked the second time in several months that the 83-year-old Palestinian leader spoke about his take on Jewish and Zionist history. In a speech in January at a meeting of the PLO Central Council, Abbas discussed his perspective on Jewish and Zionist history, arguing Israel is a “colonial project with no relationship to Judaism.”

His comments in January were met with a highly critical response and accusations of antisemitism by Israeli government officials and Jewish organizations and overshadowed other remarks he made about coexistence and nonviolence.

Abbas’s remarks on Monday appear to reflect that the PA president has become less concerned with the ramifications of making comments that Israel and much of the international community likely reject.

“From the 11th century until the Holocaust that took place in Germany, the Jews – who moved to Western and Eastern Europe – were subjected to a massacre every 10 to 15 years. But why did this happen?” Abbas said on Monday, before interjecting, “The Jewish issue that was widespread in all European countries... was not because of their religion, but rather their social behavior related to interest and banks.”

He said his comments were based on the writings of Karl Marx and two other Jewish authors.

Esther Webman, an expert on Arab perspectives of the Holocaust, said Abbas’s remarks on the persecution of Jews are inaccurate.

“[His statement] certainly is not accurate, because Nazism wanted to annihilate Jewish people wherever it is,” she said in a phone call. “An ideology, such as Nazism, that wants to erase all Jews is against Jews. The argument that Jews were killed for their social behavior is nothing more than an excuse that was used to justify the annihilation of Jews.”

During the Holocaust, the Nazis and their collaborators murdered some six million Jews.

Abbas also cited a theory that Ashkenazi Jews do not hail from what is modern-day Israel, but rather Khazaria, an empire that was located between Eastern Europe and the Middle East hundreds of years ago.

“Arthur Koestler, an American-Jewish Zionist, wrote a book about the 13th tribe... Where did you get the 13th from? They invented them. Where? In the Khazar Kingdom. When? In the ninth century,” Abbas said. “This kingdom was not religious and then it became Jewish... It later broke up, and all of its residents moved to Europe. These people are the Ashkenazi Jews. They have no relationship to Semitic culture, Abraham, Jacob and others.”

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