Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud AbbasReuters

Mahmoud Abbas may think that "the Holocaust the most heinous crime" against humanity in the modern era, but judging by the response to his statement Sunday about the matter, few, if any, Palestinians agree with him.

On dozens of Arabic-language web sites, the overwhelming opinion of Abbas' comments were negative, with many saying that Abbas had either been brainwashed, or had become a “turncoat” who is “enslaved by the lies being spread by the Zionists.”

The comments appeared on talkback sections of on-line stories discussing Abbas' comments on Arabic-language web sites. In a statement issued by the Palestinian Authority in Abbas' name Sunday, the PA chief said that “what happened to the Jews in the Holocaust is the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era.”

He also expressed his "sympathy with the families of the victims and many other innocent people who were killed by the Nazis. On the incredibly sad commemoration of Holocaust Day, we call on the Israeli government to seize the current opportunity to conclude a just and comprehensive peace in the region, based on the two states vision, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security,” Abbas said.

Talkback commenters slammed Abbas for the comments.

“Before you recognize the Holocaust Hitler perpetrated against the Jews, demand that Israel recognize the Holocaust it commits against the Palestinians, demand that they acknowledge the mass murder they committed in Sabra and Shatilla,” the Lebanese refugee camp where Christian allies of Israel killed thousands of Muslims during the 1982 Lebanon war.

“The Jews have succeeded in brainwashing the whole world, they control America and Europe, with their lies,” wrote one commenter. “The Jews are worse than the Nazis.”

Many of the news sites contained editorial cartoons showing how Israel “controls” the West, using the usual symbols of snakes and vises identified with Israel and the Jews that are shown “squeezing” Uncle Sam or the leaders of Europe. Several of the writers accused the Jews of “inventing the Holocaust” in order to blackmail the West into supporting Israel.

In contrast, on the Israeli side many have poured skepticism on Abbas's comments, pointing out his long history as a Holocaust denier, having entitled his Ph.D. dissertation "The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism.”

The dissertation was published as a book in 1984 and is widely taught throughout the PA. 

It downgrades the numbe of Holocaust victims to “[possibly] below one million,” and accuses Zionist leaders of encouraging the persecution of Jews.

"It is possible that the number of Jewish victims reached six million, but at the same time it is possible that the figure is much smaller--below one million," Abbas wrote. "It seems that the interest of the Zionist movement, however, is to inflate this figure so that their gains will be greater… This led them to emphasize this figure [six million] in order to gain the solidarity of international public opinion with Zionism.”

In 2011, he reportedly said that he now accepts the figure of six million Jewish victims.