AUSTRALIAN Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has condemned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s assertion that the Jews caused the Holocaust as “anti-Semitic”.
Abbas told the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah last Monday that Jews’ “social behaviour” such as moneylending was responsible for the Shoah. He also alluded to collaboration between the Nazis and Zionist leaders.
Asked by a journalist last Friday what her thoughts were on Abbas’s remarks, Bishop said, “We condemn any such comments by anyone, anywhere.
“It’s deeply regrettable that such statements should be made. They are anti-Semitic,” she added.
“They go against the historical facts, and I’m deeply concerned that a leader would make such comments.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin thanked Bishop for her stance.
“The frequency and brazenness of Abbas’s anti-Semitic statements is alarming, both in terms of inciting further anti-Semitism in Palestinian society and in further damaging any prospect of peace between the conflicting parties,” Ryvchin said.
Also welcoming Bishop’s condemnation, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) national chair Mark Leibler said the comments “have been rightly met with utter condemnation around the world” and cited Abbas’ long history of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.
“While Abbas has tried to present himself to the world as a reformer and a partner for peace, his well-documented anti-Semitic tirades over the years – of which this is only the latest – cannot be excused as mere gaffes but rather reflect racist beliefs which sadly are all too common in Palestinian society,” he said.
Zionist Federation of Australia president Danny Lamm said, “Over the years, many have tried to convince themselves and the world that Abbas has softened, that he is at heart a peacemaker. This latest episode discredits that theory and indicates Abbas has not and will never change.”
After a chorus of worldwide condemnation, Abbas issued an apology last week. However, many felt it didn’t go far enough and didn’t cover all the offensive comments he had made.
Further coverage in this week’s AJN