Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, The Legacy, in 2018. To access her work, go to: melaniephillips.substack.com.
(JNS) Last month, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas came out with some ripe antisemitism. In a speech to the Fatah Revolutionary Council, he said that Hitler’s Nazis didn’t perpetrate the Holocaust because of hatred of the Jewish people but because of the Jews’ “social role” in usury.
In other words, he blamed the Jews for their own genocide.
He also said that Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, attacked Jewish institutions in Arab countries in order to pressure the Jews there to emigrate to Israel. Not only was that a lie, but the Jews living in Arab lands were ethnically cleansed after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
Across the West, people have reacted to Abbas’s remarks with horror and outrage. World leaders from the U.S., E.U., Britain and France issued strong condemnations. This reaction, however, is nauseating hypocrisy. Why is everyone suddenly so aghast? Abbas and his henchmen have been saying such things for decades.
Martin Indyk, the Jewish foreign relations analyst who served as the U.S. special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from 2013-2014, tweeted (using Abbas’s nom-de-guerre): “I have been despairing about how to respond to Abu Mazen’s profoundly antisemitic diatribe. How could someone who has treated me as a personal friend for three decades at the same time harbor such hateful views of my people?”
The only possible reaction to that is to despair of Martin Indyk. How could someone in his position not have understood Abbas’s profound Jew-hatred?
Some 18 years ago, Abbas said almost exactly the same thing as he said last month. Addressing the Palestine Liberation Organization, he asserted that Jews living in Europe had suffered since the 11th century “because of their social profession—so the Jewish issue that had spread against the Jews across Europe was not because of their religion, it was because of usury and banks.”
His attitude has been nothing if not consistent. In the book he wrote in 1984 based on his doctoral thesis, written at the Soviet-backed Patrice Lumumba University two years previously, he claimed that Zionist leaders had colluded with the Nazis to carry out the Holocaust and “expand the mass extermination” in order to drive Jewish emigration to Palestine, and that Israel’s arrest and execution of the architect of the Holocaust Adolf Eichmann was a cover-up to hide this collusion.
Abbas’s own attitudes and policies are in fact framed by Nazism. He openly venerates Hitler’s ally, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, who pledged to exterminate every Jew in the Middle East if Hitler won the war. The P.A. that he heads constantly pumps out Nazi-style demonization of Jews.
As America’s envoy, Indyk was intensely hostile to Israel and pushed policies that grievously undermined Israel’s ability to defend itself against Palestinian Arab exterminatory terror.
Indyk isn’t a fool, but he appears to subscribe to an ignorant and deadly fantasy. Like so many other Israel-bashers in the West, he believes that hostility to Israel doesn’t mean being hostile to Jews. Since he is himself a Jew, he probably tells himself, how can this not be true?
In fact, Judaism and Israel are inseparable. The Jews are the only people for whom the Land of Israel was ever their national kingdom. This kingdom was sovereign over the land centuries before Islam was created and the Arabs became one of the many waves of invaders that followed the Jewish exile.
The Palestinian Arabs never stop trying to deny this fact by attempting to erase the Jewish people from their own history.
That’s why Abbas also repeated the baseless theory that Ashkenazi Jews are not descended from ancient Israelites but from an ancient “Tatar” people known as the Khazars. In fact, the Khazars were not Tatars but a Turkic people, and Abbas’s claim has been repeatedly disproved by genetic studies proving the line of Jewish descent going back to antiquity.
Abbas made his Khazar claim in order to delegitimize Israel by pretending not just that the Jews were never previously in the land but that they aren’t even Jews at all. Not content with erasing the Jews from their own history, he is trying to erase their identity altogether.
This time, however, he shot his mouth off at a sensitive moment. With much of the Arab world washing its hands of the Palestinian Arabs, the West’s support for their cause is the Palestinian Arabs’ last remaining hope of defeating Israel. Suddenly, therefore, Abbas’s profound Jew-hatred has become a hazard that must be neutralized.
Hence the open letter signed by Palestinian Arab intellectuals that said they “unequivocally condemn the morally and politically reprehensible comments” made by Abbas, and that they “adamantly reject any attempt to diminish, misrepresent or justify antisemitism, Nazi crimes against humanity or historical revisionism vis-a-vis the Holocaust.”
However, they went on to say, “The Palestinian people are sufficiently burdened by Israeli settler-colonialism, dispossession, occupation and oppression without having to bear the negative effect of such ignorant and profoundly antisemitic narratives perpetuated by those who claim to speak in our name.”
In fact, “settler-colonialism, dispossession, occupation and oppression” are lies put out by people who think Israel shouldn’t exist.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, the signatories included a large number of antisemites and terror supporters. For example, Refaat Alareer tweeted in 2012: “Are the Jews evil? Of course, they are.” Huwaida Arraf has equated Israel with Nazi Germany, defended Hamas and said, “Israel does not have the right to a Jewish state.”
Noura Erakat, according to a 2019 complaint against Columbia University, “equated Zionism with racism, demonized Jews as having a congenital tendency toward domination, advocated for the annihilation of the Jewish state and denied the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.”
The Elder of Ziyyon website has revealed that another signatory, Khalil al-Shakaki, who heads the Palestinian Centre for Political and Survey Research, admitted to a Palestinian newspaper that the real purpose of the letter was to repair the damage done to the Palestinian Arab cause by the revelation of Palestinian Arab Jew-hatred.
Shakaki said, “There is respect and support for us in the world, and if the world feels and sees that the Palestinian people support what [Abbas] said, this will mean to them that the Palestinian people are racist, and this means to them that there is racist settler-colonialism, and also racist Palestinians, and therefore they will put us and Israelis in the same dark trench.”
This concern is also what lies behind much Western reaction to Abbas’s comments. The E.U. said the comments “play into the hands of those who do not want a two-state solution, which President Abbas has repeatedly advocated for.” As an afterthought, it added, “Moreover, they trivialize Holocaust [sic] and thereby fuel antisemitism and are an insult to the millions of victims of the Holocaust and their families.”
Even now, such people fail to acknowledge the true enormity of antisemitism. Even now, they cannot grasp that Palestinian Arab Jew-hatred doesn’t just get in the way of a “two-state solution.” It’s the reason that solution has never happened.
Abbas’s bigotry really does get in the way of the West’s fantasy that a Palestine Arab state will somehow end the conflict between Palestinian Arab Jew-eradicators and their Israeli victims. It gets in the way of the West’s ironclad belief that hating Israel is not the same thing as hating the Jews.
The result is that the West’s Palestinian Arab cause of causes promotes, incentivizes and funds dyed-in-the-wool Jew-haters whose agenda is to erase Jewish history and identity.
So the professed horror of people in the West at Mahmoud Abbas’s antisemitism is their usual humbug that ensures the Palestinian Arab war against Israel never ends.