Photo Credit: Flash 90
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) speaks

{Originally posted to the Aish website}

Last week, decades of anti-Semitic actions caught up with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas when he claimed that the “social behavior” of European Jews, including lending non-Jews money for interest, was to blame for the murder of Jews in the Holocaust.


The comment overstepped even Palestinian norms of hatred, prompting some of Israel’s fiercest critics to finally speak up. The New York Times – yes, the same paper who acknowledged its Holocaust coverage as “the century’s bitterest journalistic failure” – called on Abbas to resign.

In a feeble diplomatic attempt, the European Union criticized Abbas’ “unacceptable remarks,” while the United Nations Security Council failed to approve a motion calling on Abbas to “refrain from anti-Semitic comments.”

Meanwhile, Palestinian spokesperson Saeb Erekat tried to deny the whole thing as fake news, claiming that Abbas’ remarks “were distorted” and that he “did not deny massacres against Jews, including the Holocaust.” (For good measure, Erekat added lip-service about “living together in peace, security and good neighborliness.”)

In the face of Western criticism, Abbas was forced to apologize for his comments. Yet he is far from absolved. A closer look at decades of Abbas’ statements and actions reveals a long litany of anti-Semitic tirades, myths and conspiracy theories:

[1] Abbas launched his career with Holocaust denial.

While studying at Moscow’s Oriental College in the 1950s, Abbas’ doctoral thesis was classic Holocaust denial, later published in book form as The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism.

Abbas writes:

  • of the “Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed.”
  • “The small number of Jewish victims was actually part of a Zionist-Nazi plot. Hitler did not decide to kill the Jews until David Ben-Gurion provoked him into doing so.”
  • “Many scholars have debated the figure of six million and reached stunning conclusions – fixing the number of Jewish victims at only a few hundred thousand.”
  • “It seems that the interest of the Zionist movement… is to inflate this figure so that their gains will be greater. This led them to emphasize this figure in order to gain the solidarity of international public opinion with Zionism.”

Abbas also claimed that the Nazis used gas chambers for disease control, rather than the systematic murder of Jews.

[2] Abbas denies any Jewish connection to the land of Israel.

In last week’s speech, Abbas denied the connection of the Jewish people to their homeland: “Their narrative about coming to this country because of their longing for Zion, or whatever – we’re tired of hearing this. The truth is that this is a colonialist enterprise, aimed at planting a foreign body in this region.”

According to Abbas, Israel was formed when European leaders planted “a foreign people” in Palestine as a way to sow division among Arabs and exploit them strategically.

The anti-Semitic Palestinian National Charter (Article 20) reads: “The claims of historic and religious ties between Jews and Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history.” Last week, Abbas said that while Jews “yearn for Zion… history says this is baseless.”

Denying this basic fact of Jewish history – God promising the land to Abraham 4,000 years ago – is sheer anti-Semitism.

[3] Abbas foments blood libels against Israel.

Abbas regularly demonizes Judaism and Jews. The official PA daily describes Jews as “thirsty for blood to please their god [against the gentiles], and crave pockets full of money.”

Abbas and other Palestinian officials concocted the idea that Israel uses wild pigs to drive Palestinians off their land and floods Arab neighborhoods with rats. (see Palestinian Wafa News, September 16, 2011)

In 2016 Abbas told European Parliament another fanatical anti-Semitic claim: “A number of rabbis in Israel explicitly announced and demanded that their government poison the water in order to kill the Palestinians… to carry out a mass murder of Palestinians.”

[4] Abbas calls for ethnic cleansing of Jews from their homeland.

While one million Arabs enjoy full citizenship rights in the State of Israel, Abbas calls for a Palestinian state that is Judenrein, the Nazi-era word meaning “cleansed of Jews.” In the official Palestinian Authority newspaper, he declared: “I would not agree… that there will live among us even a single Israeli on Palestinian land. (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 30, 2010)

Abbas’ government regards selling land to Jews as punishable by death, and has pronounced such a verdict hundreds of times.

[5] Abbas denies the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Abbas also denies the Holy Temple that stood nearly 1,000 years in Jerusalem. In the face of undisputed historical fact, Abbas says: The Jewish people “claim that 2,000 years ago they had a Temple. I challenge the claim that this is so.” (Kul Al-Arab, August 25, 2000)

When archaeologists in Jerusalem discovered a small golden bell, likely from a tunic worn by a high priest in the Holy Temple, Palestinian officials angrily said this “underlines the efforts of the occupation and the extremist Jewish groups to falsify history and plant Jewish history forged in the region” (, July 26, 2011)

Denying this core element of Jewish national destiny fits the definition of “anti-Semitism.”

[6] Abbas encourages terror.

For over 50 years, Abbas has been a leading proponent of deadly violence against Jews and Israelis. As reported in the Jordan’s Al-Dustur (February 28, 2008), Abbas boasts of having “fired the first shot” that launched the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1965 – the terror group that pioneered suicide attacks, airplane hijackings, and bus bombings.

Al-Dustur also reports that Abbas has taught terror tactics around the world to groups such as Hezbollah.

In 2017, following a Palestinian terror attack on the Temple Mount that killed two Israeli policemen, Abbas encouraged riots in Jerusalem: “We have supported you in what you have done and what you are doing. We are with you in everything that you have done and are still doing, as you are causing us pride” (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 26, 2017).

Abbas’ pro-terror statements are drilled into Palestinian consciousness. In December 2017, when the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, official PA radio and TV rebroadcast Abbas’ call for violence 41 times.

Abbas directly encourages terror, declaring that “terrorists do what we order them to do… We are responsible.”

[7] Abbas rewards terrorists with lifetime salaries.

According to Palestinian law, 7% of the budget must pay generous lifetime salaries to terrorists who kill Israelis. In 2017, the PA received $693 million in foreign aid, with $345 million paid as stipends to convicted terrorists and their families.

These “pay to slay” payments incentivize terror, and Palestinians have admitted to performing terror in order to earn money. These stipends are higher than the average Palestinian wage, and an estimated 35,100 Palestinian families are supported by these payments.

In March 2018, when the U.S. signed into law the Taylor Force Act to cut all aid to the PA until terrorist payments are stopped, Abbas declared: “There is something that the Americans are telling us to stop – the salaries of the [terrorist] martyrs and their families. Of course we categorically reject this… The [terrorist] martyrs honor us, and we will continue to pay them before the living.”

[8] Abbas glorifies and honors convicted terrorists.

In 2011, who did Abbas honor to lead the high-profile procession to U.N. offices in Ramallah and officially launch the Palestinian statehood campaign? None other than Latifa Abu Hmeid, the Palestinian who proudly encouraged her four sons to become terrorists. Each is now serving multiple life sentences for the murder of Israelis. (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida [Palestinian Authority], September 9, 2011)

[9] Abbas financed the Munich Olympic massacre.

As reported in Sports Illustrated (“The Mastermind,” August 26, 2002), Abbas financed the Munich Olympic massacre. In 2010, he unrepentantly praised Munich mastermind Abu Daoud as “one of the prominent leaders of the Fatah movement who… was at the forefront on every battlefield, with the aim of defending the [Palestinian] revolution. What a wonderful brother, companion, tough and stubborn, relentless fighter.” (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 4, 2010)

In the documentary film, “One Day in September,” Abu Daoud recalled how Abbas wished him luck and kissed him when he set about organizing the Munich attack.

When Amin Al-Hindi, one of the senior planners of the Munich massacre, died in August 2010, Abbas led the dignitaries at the PA-sponsored funeral, complete with red carpet and military band. The official PA daily described Al-Hindi as “one of the stars who sparkled… at the sports stadium in Munich.” (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 20, 2010)

[10] Abbas claims that Ashkenazi Jews are not indigenous to the land.

In last week’s speech, Abbas dredged up a medieval conspiracy theory that Ashkenazi Jews are descended from Khazars – with “no historical ties” to the Land of Israel, and “no relationship to Semitic culture, Abraham, Jacob and others.”

Partner for Peace?

Abbas’ anti-Semitic tirades confirm that Israel lacks a trustworthy peace partner.

For peace to exist, all parties need to condemn violence and accept the idea of permanent, peaceful coexistence. As John F. Kennedy said at the United Nations in 1963, “Peace does not rest in charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of people.”

Anyone who sincerely desires to end this conflict must demand that Abbas cease Holocaust denial, stop rewarding terrorists, and recognize Jewish rights of self-determination in their ancestral homeland. Anything less is anti-Semitism.


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Rabbi Shraga Simmons holds a degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, and rabbinic ordination from the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. In 1997 he became the founding editor of, and later the founder and director of the Torah study website, He currently serves as the Director of Aish Communications, handling all marketing, public relations and media activities for Aish HaTorah International. He lives with his wife and children in the Modi'in region of Israel.