Several Palestinian academic leaders have come together to issue a public statement condemning the recent controversial remarks made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas concerning Holocaust minimization and the ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews.
The open letter, signed by more than a hundred Palestinian academics and activists from diverse backgrounds was disseminated across social media platforms on Monday.
Calling the comments by Abbas “morally and politically reprehensible” the authors denounced Abbas’s distortion of the Holocaust, using strong language to underscore the significance of historical accuracy and sensitivity.
The letter emphasized that the Holocaust was “rooted in a racial theory widespread in European culture and science at the time, the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people was born of antisemitism, fascism, and racism.”
The catalyst for this collective response was Abbas’s recent incendiary and antisemitic remarks during a gathering of the Fatah party’s Revolutionary Council.
During the gathering in question, the Palestinian leader claimed that Hitler’s motives for targeting Jews during the Holocaust were not religious in nature but rather stemmed from their purported role in European society. Abbas reportedly told the audience that “Hitler fought the Jews because they dealt with usury and money, not because of antisemitism.”
In the same speech Abbas was accused asserting that the Jewish Ashkenazi people are not descendant from the inhabitants of ancient Israel but rather originate from a Turkic group known as the Khazars, insinuating that they are not of Semitic origin.
Abbas’s comments triggered widespread condemnation from Israel and other Western nations. On Friday, Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, revoked a 2015 award that the city gave to Abbas. The mayor’s office told AFP that he could no longer hold the Grand Vermeil Medal after he “justified the extermination of the Jews of Europe.”
In an attempt to mitigate the world-wide backlash from his comments, a Palestinian Authority spokesperson said that Abbas’s statements were merely “academic and historical quotations.”