Palestinian Authority defends president's antisemitic remarks

Palestinian Authority defends president's antisemitic remarks

Palestinian Authority defends president's antisemitic remarks

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian political factions on Wednesday raged against dozens of Palestinian academics who had criticized President Mahmoud Abbas' recent remarks on the Holocaust that drew widespread accusations of antisemitism.

Politicians lambasted the open letter signed earlier this week by over a hundred Palestinian academics, activists and artists based around the world as "the statement of shame."

“Their statement is consistent with the Zionist narrative and its signatories gives credence to the enemies of the Palestinian people," said the secular nationalist Fatah party that runs the Palestinian Authority. Fatah officials called the signatories “mouthpieces for the occupation" and “extremely dangerous.”

The well-respected writers and thinkers released the letter after footage surfaced that showed Abbas asserting European Jews were persecuted by Hitler because of what he described as their “social functions" and predatory lending practices, rather than their religion or ethnicity.

In the open letter, the legions of Palestinian academics, most of whom live in the United States and Europe, condemned Abbas' comments as “morally and politically reprehensible."

“We adamantly reject any attempt to diminish, misrepresent, or justify antisemitism, Nazi crimes against humanity or historical revisionism vis-à-vis the Holocaust," the letter added. A few of the signatories are based in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The chorus of indignation among Palestinian leaders over the letter casts light on a controversy that for decades has plagued the Palestinian relationship with the Holocaust. The Nazi genocide, which killed nearly six million Jews and millions of others, sent European Jews pouring into the Holy Land.

Israel was established in 1948 as a safe haven for Jews in the wake of the Holocaust, and remembering the Holocaust and honoring its victims remains a powerful part of the country's national identity.