German leader condemns Abbas’ ‘50 Holocausts’ remark

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaks during a news conference after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin (Wolfgang Kumm - AP)

AP  /  August 17, 2022

Germany’s chancellor says that he was “disgusted by the outrageous remarks” made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin, accusing Israel of committing “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians over the years

Germany’s chancellor said Wednesday that he was “disgusted by the outrageous remarks” made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin, accusing Israel of committing “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians over the years.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s statement on Twitter came a day after Abbas refused to condemn a deadly attack by Palestinian militants on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Instead, Abbas countered by saying he could point to “50 Holocausts” by Israel.

“I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,” Scholz said. “For us Germans in particular, any relativization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.”

Scholz was criticized both in Germany and Israel for not rejecting Abbas’ comments immediately at the press conference he held with him on Tuesday night at the Chancellery.

Standing next to Scholz, Abbas explicitly used the word “Holocausts” in his reply, drawing a grimace from the German chancellor. Germany has long argued the term should only be used to describe the Nazis’ singular crime of killing 6 million Jews before and during World War II.

While Scholz had earlier rejected the Palestinian leader’s description of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as “apartheid,” he did not immediately rebuke Abbas for using the term “Holocaust.”

Abbas said that “from 1947 until today, Israel has committed 50 massacres in 50 Palestinian villages.”

“Fifty slaughters. Fifty Holocausts,” he added.

During the Third Reich, the Germans and their henchmen murdered 6 million Jews across Europe.

On Wednesday, Abbas appeared to walk back his comments.

In a written statement, his office said that “President Mahmoud Abbas reaffirms that the Holocaust is the most heinous crime in modern human history.”

The statement stressed that “his answer was not intended to deny the singularity of the Holocaust that occurred in the last century, and condemning it in the strongest terms.”

Abbas’s remarks drew strong condemnation by leaders across Israel’s political spectrum. Caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid called the comments, “not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie.”

Dani Dayan, chairman of the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center, had called Abbas’s remarks about the Holocaust “appalling” and urged the German government to respond to the “inexcusable behavior done inside the Federal Chancellery.”

The remarks came a few weeks before the planned commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Munich attack, in which Palestinian militants killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team. Relatives of the slain Israeli athletes said they plan to boycott the ceremony after failing to reach an agreement on bigger compensation from the German government.

Germany’s leading Jewish group also sharply criticized the comment and expressed shock that Scholz did not repudiate Abbas’ comment immediately.

Abbas “tramples on the memory of six million murdered Jews and damages the memory of all victims of the Holocaust,” said Josef Schuster, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. “Such statements cannot be left uncommented. That a relativization of the Holocaust, especially in Germany, at a press conference in the Federal Chancellery, goes unchallenged, I consider scandalous.”

____

In call with Israel PM, Schotz condemns Holocaust denial

AP  /  August 19, 2022

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Israel’s prime minister Thursday that he condemns any attempts to deny or downplay the Holocaust, offering reassurance after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sparked outrage with remarks to that effect earlier this week.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Scholz in Berlin, Abbas on Tuesday accused Israel of committing “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians over the years. Scholz, who was standing next to Abbas, didn’t immediately react to the comments but later strongly criticized them.

Scholz’s office said the German leader spoke by phone Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Jair Lapid to discuss relations between their countries.

“The chancellor emphasized that he sharply condemns any attempt to deny or relativize the Holocaust,” Scholz spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.

“The comments by President Abbas in Berlin were intolerable and completely unacceptable to (the chancellor) and the entire German government,” Hebestreit said.

 “Keeping alive the memory of the civilizational rupture of the Shoah is an everlasting responsibility of this and every German government,” he added, referring to the Holocaust by the commonly used Hebrew word.

Post-war German governments have long argued that the word Holocaust refers to a unique crime: the systematic murder of 6 million European Jews by the Nazis and their henchmen during the Third Reich.

On Wednesday, Abbas appeared to walk back his comments. His office said in a written statement that the Palestinian leader’s reference “was not intended to deny the singularity of the Holocaust that occurred in the last century.”

While Abbas’ remarks drew outrage in Europe, the United States and Israel — Lapid called them “not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie” — Scholz received criticism as well for not intervening immediately at the news conference held at his chancellery.

“That a relativization of the Holocaust, especially in Germany, at a press conference in the Federal Chancellery, goes unchallenged, I consider scandalous,” said Josef Schuster, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

Abbas’ comments came in response to an Associated Press question about the the 50th anniversary of the attack by Palestinian militants at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, which resulted in the death of 11 members of the Israeli team and a German police officer.

____

German police investigate Palestinian president over ‘50 Holocausts’ remark

Katy Clifton

The Independent  /  August 19, 2022

Mahmoud Abbas’ comments sparked outrage in Germany, Israel and beyond.

Police in Germany have opened a preliminary investigation against Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas over his comments that Israel had committed “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians.

The remarks, during a news conference in Berlin alongside German chancellor Olaf Scholz, sparked outrage in Germany, Israel and beyond.

At the press conference on Tuesday, Mr Abbas refused to condemn a deadly attack by Palestinian militants on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Instead, he countered by saying he could point to “50 Holocausts” by Israel.

Berlin Police has now confirmed a report by German newspaper Bild that Mr Abbas is being investigated for possible incitement to hatred after the force received a formal criminal complaint.

Downplaying the Holocaust is a criminal offence in Germany, but the opening of a preliminary inquiry does not automatically entail a full investigation.

Germany’s foreign ministry said that Mr Abbas – as a representative of the Palestinian Authority – would enjoy immunity from prosecution because he was visiting the country in an official capacity.

Germany does not recognize the Palestinian Territories as a sovereign state, a position Mr Scholz reaffirmed on Tuesday.

It comes after Mr Scholz on Wednesday said he was “disgusted by the outrageous remarks” at the press conference.

He added in a statement on Twitter: “For us Germans in particular, any relativization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.”

Mr Scholz was criticized both in Germany and Israel for not rejecting the comments immediately at the press conference at the Chancellery.

Germany has long argued the term “Holocaust” should only be used to describe the Nazis’ singular crime of killing six million Jews before and during World War II.

On Wednesday, Mr Abbas appeared to walk back his comments. In a written statement, his office said that “president Mahmoud Abbas reaffirms that the Holocaust is the most heinous crime in modern human history.”

The statement stressed that “his answer was not intended to deny the singularity of the Holocaust that occurred in the last century, and condemning it in the strongest terms.”