September 18, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10799

He Said It All Already In 2018 And More: Jews Poison Wells – Mahmoud Abbas's Antisemitism And Holocaust Denial In Perspective

September 18, 2023
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 10799

The statements made by PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the 11th session of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, on August 24, 2023 (see MEMRI TV clip),[1] which drew international criticism from the media and politically, were not new.[2] They were very similar to statements he made in April 2018 (see MEMRI TV clip below). These statements are in fact part of a comprehensive antisemitic ideology Abbas has espoused and elaborated on over the years. This ideology includes blaming the persecution of Europe's Jews, from the Middle Ages to the Holocaust, on their behavior or "social role" in Europe, while repeating classic antisemitic tropes such as the Jews' avariciousness – yet at the same time questioning the scope of the Holocaust and the authenticity of the gas chambers. Another central theme in this ideology is accusing the Zionist movement of collaborating with the Nazis and of resembling the Nazis in its ideas and methods. Abbas' accusations against the Zionist movement and Israel likewise incorporate antisemitic themes such as allegations about poisoning wells (see MEMRI TV clip below).
Abbas' ideas have been expressed in numerous publications and speeches over the years, many of which have been discussed and documented by MEMRI.

The following is a review:

Abbas In 2018 Speech: The Persecution Of The Jews In Europe Throughout History Was Due To "Their Function In Society, Which Had To Do With Usury, Banks, And So On"

In an April 30, 2018 speech before  the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah (see clip below), Abbas made remarks very similar to his recent comments, saying: "The Jews who moved to Eastern and Western Europe had been subjected to a massacre by one country or another every 10-15 years, since the 11th century and until the Holocaust in Germany… [But] the anti-Jewish [sentiment] was not because of their religion, but because of their function in society, which had to do with usury, banks, and so on."[3]

For a MEMRI TV clip of these remarks, click below

Abbas' In His Doctoral Dissertation: The Number Of Jews Killed By The Nazis Is Unclear, But, Whatever The Number, The Zionists Collaborated With The Nazis In This Crime; After The War They Perpetrated Similar Crimes Against The Palestinians 

Some of Abbas' ideas were set out in his 1982 doctoral dissertation, submitted to the Oriental College in Moscow and titled "The Secret Connection between Nazism and Zionism – 1933-1945."  In this dissertation, a copy of which has been obtained by MEMRI, Abbas sought to de-legitimize the Zionist movement by arguing that it collaborated with the Nazis in the annihilation of the Jewish people in order to prompt Jews to emigrate to Palestine. As evidence of this he cited an agreement between the Nazi authorities and representatives of the Zionist movement which facilitated the escape of part of German Jewry to Palestine in exchange for their property.  Abbas stated further that, during the war itself, the Zionists continued to collaborate with the Nazis: “The activity of the Zionist organizations during the war did not ease, but rather exacerbated, the position of broad Jewish sectors in the European countries, many thousands [sic] of which became victims of the Hitlerite genocide.” Therefore, he argued, some of the Zionist leaders share the blame for the Nazis’ crimes against the Jews.

Abbas wrote in the dissertation that after the war, the Zionists used the issue of the Holocaust “to justify the genocidal policy towards the Arab people of Palestine, which is implemented by Israel’s Zionist government with the support of the U.S. and of the international Zionist centers. This policy actually repeats the wicked [crimes] committed by the Nazis towards the Jews during WW2, and its goal is to establish a sort of empire in the Middle East: Greater Israel.”     

As evident from his reference to the “thousands” of Jews killed by the Nazis, Abbas' dissertation also questions the scope of the Holocaust, stating, “There are no precise statistical or verified scientific data regarding the total number of the [Jewish Holocaust] victims,” he wrote. “According to data presented by the British [sic] researcher R. Hilberg,[4] whose research focuses on the Holocaust, the number of victims of the Hitlerite genocide of the Jews during the WW2 reached 896,000. According to other estimates, prevalent mainly in Israeli and Western literature, this number is significantly larger and reaches six million people.”[5] It should be noted the figure 896,000, which Abbas' attributes to Raul Hillberg, was never proposed by this scholar. Abbas cited p. 670 of Hilberg's The Destruction of the European Jews as the source of this data. However, an examination of this source shows that no such figure is mentioned.

Page. 670 of Hilberg's The Destruction of the European Jews

Title page of Abbas' dissertation

Abbas' dissertation: Table of Contents

On July 20, 2018, the official Palestinian Authority TV channel aired a bio-documentary on Abbas, which extolled his dissertation, claiming that he  had "exposed the relations between the global Zionist organization and the Nazi regime."[6]

For a MEMRI TV clip of these remarks, click below:

Abbas In His Book: The Number Of Jewish Holocaust  Victims May Be Less Than One Million; The Zionist Movement Inflated The Number Of Victims In Order To Gain Sympathy

In 1984 Abbas published an Arabic book based on his dissertation, titled "The Other Face: The Connection Between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement."  In the book's eight-page introduction, he repeated and elaborated the claim he made in his dissertation, that the number of Holocaust victims may be smaller than one million. He wrote: "Many scholars have debated the question of the six million figure, and reached perplexing conclusions, according to which the Jewish victims total hundreds of thousands. The well-known Canadian author Roger Delorme[7] said on this matter: 'To date, no proof whatsoever exists that the number of Jewish victims in the Nazi concentration camps reached four million or six million. Zionism first spoke of 12 million exterminated in these camps, but then the number decreased greatly, to half, that is, only six million. Then the number decreased further, and became four million, as the Germans could not have killed or exterminated more Jews than there were in the world at that time. In effect, the true number is much smaller than these fictitious millions.'" Abbas then repeated the false claim that "the historian and author Raul Hilberg thinks that this number is no greater than 896,000."

Abbas also attempted to minimize the Holocaust by stating that many of its victims were not exterminated in the concentration camps but were ordinary war casualties like many other people in Europe during the war. Citing research by convicted Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, he claimed that the gas chambers were not used as a means of annihilation but merely for disposing of bodies in order to prevent the spread of disease. He wrote: "Afterwards, the Zionist movement attempted to describe how they [the Jews] were murdered in concentration camps and gas chambers, while disregarding two fundamental facts. First, many of the Jews remained alive; some were rescued by the Zionist movement [which encouraged] their emigration to Palestine, and some [survived because of] the peoples of the world that managed to protect them and take them away from the Nazis, as the Soviet Union did by sending two million Jews to its eastern republics. In addition, hundreds of thousands of live Jews were found in the concentration camps when the Allies liberated the territories [ruled by the Nazis]."

"Second, the extermination of the victims was not carried out only in the concentration camps and gas chambers. Some of the victims fell as a result of their participation in wars and battles, and also due to starvation and disease that struck all the peoples of Europe. In addition, the concentration camps were not only for Jews, but held people from all over Europe, among them fighters [against the Nazis], intellectuals, scholars, prisoners of war, and opponents of fascism…"

"Regarding the gas chambers, which were supposedly designed for murdering living Jews: A scientific study published by Professor Robert Faurisson of France denies that the gas chambers were for murdering people, and claims that they were only for incinerating bodies, out of concern for the spread of disease and infection in the region."

The conviction that six million Jews died in the Holocaust, Abbas added, is the result of efforts by the Zionist movement: "After the war it was announced that six million Jews were among the victims, and that the war of annihilation had been aimed first of all against the Jews, and only then against the rest of the peoples of Europe… It seems that the Zionist movement's stake in inflating the number of murdered in the war aimed at [ensuring] great gains. This led it to confirm the number [six million], to establish it in world opinion, and by doing so to arouse more pangs of conscience and sympathy for Zionism in general."[8]

Cover of Abbas' 1984 book The Other Face: The Connection Between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement

Abbas In 2023 Nakba Day Speech At UN: America and Britian Created Israel In Order To Get Rid Of Their Jews

In keeping with his argument that the persecution of Europe's Jews was caused by the Jews' behavior, Abbas has stated that the West, and especially Britain and the U.S., collaborated with the Zionists to create the state of Israel in order to get rid of the Jews on their soil. He made this claim, for example, in the speech he delivered on  May 15, 2023 before the UN General Assembly, in a special Nakba Day event held  that day at the UN. Abbas said: "The truth is that these countries, the Western countries, wanted to get rid of the Jews and to benefit from them in Palestine. They wanted to kill two birds with one stone."[9]

For a MEMRI TV clip of these remarks, click below

Abbas: The Zionists Resemble The Nazis

In the same speech, Abbas also compared the "Zionists and Israelis" to the Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels (see clip below):  "The false Zionist and Israeli claims continue. They say that Israel made the desert blossom. They say that Palestine used to be a desert, and they made it flourish. They say that they turned it into a heaven on Earth. They cannot avoid lying, but what can they do? They lie and lie, like Goebbels [said]: 'Lie and lie, until people believe it.'"[10]  

The argument that the Zionists resemble the Nazis in their policies and methods, or are even worse than the Nazis, was made by Abbas on other occasions as well. In an August 2022 joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Abbas said that Israel has committed 50 "massacres" and 50 "holocausts." [11]

For a MEMRI TV clip of these remarks, click below

Abbas In Speech To European Parliament: Israeli Rabbis Wanted To Poison The Palestinians' Water

In describing what he regards as Israel's policies, Abbas adopted classic antisemitic libels, such as the accusation that Jews poison wells. In a speech before the European Parliament on June 23, 2016, which was also aired on the Authority's official TV channel (see clip below), he alleged that some Israeli rabbis had demanded "that their government poison the water in order to kill the Palestinians," adding that this was incitement to mass murder. He said: "Let me tell you, only a week ago - one week -some Rabbis in Israel made a clear declaration, demanding that their government poison the water in order to kill the Palestinians. Does this not constitute incitement? Does this not constitute clear incitement to the mass murder of the Palestinian people? We are against incitement."[12]

For a MEMRI TV clip of these remarks, click below


[1] Speaking at the 11th session of Fatah's Revolutionary Council on August 24, 2023, Abbas said that  Hitler and the Europeans did not kill the Jews because they were Jews but "because of their role in society, which had to do with usury, money, and so on," and that Hitler fought the Jews because "in his view, they were engaged in sabotage, and this is why he hated them." See MEMRI TV Clip No. 10461, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: Hitler Fought The European Jews Because Of Their Usury, Money Dealings; It Was Not About Antisemitism; Jews From Arab Countries Did Not Want To Emigrate, But Were Forced To Do So By Israel, March 9, 2023.

[2] Even Palestinian figures in the West joined in the criticism of Abbas’ antisemitic statements.

[4] Hilberg was a Jewish Austrian-born American political scientist and historian.

[5] Mahmoud Abbas, "The Secret Connection between Nazism and Zionism," doctoral dissertation submitted to the Oriental College in Moscow, 1982, pp. 65-67.

[7] Roger Delorme was a Canadian radio and TV broadcaster known for his antisemitic views, who equated Zionism with Nazism and racism, denied that six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust and claimed Anne Frank’s diary was a forgery. In 1977 he ran in a by-election in the Quebec district of Terrebonne on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party, but was defeated (, (February 3, 2022); Abbas quoted from an Arabic translation of a book titled "I Accuse," published in Damascus in 1980, whose author is given as Roger Delorme. MEMRI has a picture of the book's cover but not the book itself.

[8] See MEMRI reports:

Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 95 - Palestinian Leader: Number of Jewish Victims in the Holocaust Might be 'Even Less Than a Million...' Zionist Movement Collaborated with Nazis to 'Expand the Mass Extermination' of the Jews – May 31, 2002; Special Reports No. 26 - What Is Arab Antisemitism? – February 27, 2004; Special Report No. 15 –  Abu Mazen: A Political Profile – April 29, 2003.

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