JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned what he called “another anti-Semitic speech” by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“With utmost ignorance and brazen gall, he claimed that European Jews were persecuted and murdered not because they were Jews but because they gave loans with interest,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued Wednesday, a day after Abbas addressed a meeting of the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah in the West Bank.
“Abu Mazen again recited the most contemptible anti-Semitic canards,” Netanyahu said, using Abbas’ nom de guerre. “Apparently the Holocaust denier is still a Holocaust denier.”
He called on the world community to condemn Abbas’ “severe anti-Semitism.”
Members of the Trump administration also blasted the remarks, which the Palestinian leader called a “history lesson” in which he said that Jews caused the Holocaust with their “social behavior,” such as money lending, and that “Israel is a colonial project that has nothing to do with the Jews.” He also cited a short-lived agreement whereby Adolf Hitler facilitated the immigration of more than 60,000 German Jews to Palestine during the 1930s.
Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s chief Middle East peace negotiator, in a tweet wrote that “President Abbas’ remarks yesterday in Ramallah at the opening of the Palestinian National Congress must be unconditionally condemned by all. They are very unfortunate, very distressing and terribly disheartening. Peace cannot be built on this kind of foundation.”
The U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, wrote in a tweet that “Abu Mazen has reached a new low in attributing the cause of massacres of Jewish people over the years to their ‘social behavior relating to interest and banks.’ To all those who think Israel is the reason that we don’t have peace, think again.”
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in a statement condemned Abbas’ remarks, calling them “grossly inaccurate and an insidious type of anti-Semitism.”
The museum called on all leaders and citizens to denounce and reject the sentiments.
“Nazi Germany and its collaborators were solely responsible for the Holocaust,” director Sara Bloomfield said. “Abbas’s self-titled ‘history lesson’ was anything but. Rather than expose Palestinians to accurate information about the Holocaust and the anti-Semitic persecution Jews faced for centuries in Europe, Abbas distorts the history to advance an agenda that lies about the Holocaust and Jews’ connection to Israel.”