WASHINGTON (JTA) — Deborah Lipstadt, the State Department’s top envoy combating antisemitism, condemned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for comparing Israel to Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief.
“PA President Abbas’s equating Israel with the lies of top Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels is an affront to Holocaust victims and survivors,” Lipstadt wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “Especially during a time of rising antisemitic violence throughout the world, such rhetoric about the world’s only Jewish state is entirely unacceptable.”
Abbas spoke Monday at a United Nations event commemorating the 75th anniversary of what Palestinians call the “Nakba,” the word meaning “catastrophe” that denotes the displacement of Palestinians during and after Israel’s establishment. It was the first-ever event at the U.N. General Assembly commemorating the Nakba.
“Israeli and Zionist claims continue by saying that Israel made the desert bloom. As if Palestine was a desert and they made the desert bloom,” Abbas told the event in New York. “These are lies. They continue to lie, like Goebbels, and they continue to lie until people believe their lies.”
Abbas also said at the event that the United Nations should suspend Israel’s membership at the body until it allows the establishment of a Palestinian state and recognizes a Palestinian right of return.
The United States and a number of other nations boycotted the event.
Speaking Wednesday at a briefing for Jewish media, Lipstadt said Abbas’s statement was so shocking that U.S. officials accelerated clearing her tweet for publication, usually an arduous process. Lipstadt is one of the foremost historians of the Holocaust, and assumed her government role last year.
“We found it just outrageous,” she said.