On July 27, 2012, Ziad Al-Bandak, an advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud 'Abbas on Christian affairs, visited the Auschwitz concentration camp, laying a wreath at the Death Wall and lighting a candle in memory of the Holocaust victims. The visit was at the invitation of a private Polish foundation promoting tolerance. Several days prior to the visit, he met with Polish Undersecretary of State Boguslaw Winid.
Al-Bandak's act sparked furious responses from Hamas and Hamas supporters. The movement's spokesman, as well as columnists on websites affiliated with it, stated that the visit served the interests of Israel, which presents itself as a victim by spreading the "lie" of the Holocaust.
The following are excerpts from some of the responses:
Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum: "The Visit Helped Israel To Spread The Lie Of The Holocaust"
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said: "The visit helped Israel to spread the lie of the Holocaust, and does not serve the Palestinian cause. It has been clearly proven that the Israeli narrative [of the Holocaust] is fraudulent. [The Israelis] exaggerate what happened in order to garner international sympathy, which for years has come at the expense of the Palestinians."
Barhoum added that the PA was financially bankrupt and was therefore taking small steps of this kind in hopes of extracting itself from the crisis by winning international sympathy. He assessed, however, that the visit would not achieve this, but would only provoke the Palestinian people and thus create a new crisis for the PA.
Ziad Al-Bandak in Auschwitz
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Hamas-Affiliated Columnist 'Issam Shaur: "Who Among Us Believes That Hitler Burned Six Million Jews?"
Hamas-affiliated columnist 'Issam Shaur asked: "What sort of wisdom was it on the part of ['Abbas's] advisor to make this misguided visit, which supports the Jews and their crimes?... Who among us believes that Hitler burned six million Jews? We do not believe it, and neither do the Jews. The entire world is living [with] a hypocritical deception called the Holocaust, and it is even worse when a senior Palestinian official goes to weep over the fabricated remains of the Holocaust while ignoring the crimes of the occupation state and its sins against his own Palestinian people.
"Ziad Al-Bandak's tears, shed openly or not, imply that the Jews are the victims. A senior Palestinian official has testified before the whole world that the Jews' tragedy [actually took place], and we know this is [an act of] perjury that must be rejected. It reflects only the feelings of Ziad Al-Bandak, not the feelings of the Palestinian people towards the terrorist occupation state [called] 'Israel,' which is cordoning Gaza, Judaizing the holy places, and seizing lands [right] in front of 'Abbas and all his advisors, including Al-Bandak [himself]."
Shaur also attacked Hafez Al-Barghouti, editor of the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, for failing to criticize the visit.
Hamas-Affiliated Columnist Faiz Abu Shamala: Ziad Al-Bandak Should Be Prosecuted For Treason
Faiz Abu Shamala, who writes on Hamas-affiliated websites, slammed Al-Bandak for visiting Auschwitz instead of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and their families, or the Palestinians in refugee camps, and even called for prosecuting him. He wrote in the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal: "The Palestinian people should prosecute 'Abbas's advisor Ziad Al-Bandak for high treason and punish him for granting official recognition to the Jewish lie that has been refuted by intellectuals and writers, first and foremost among them the French philosopher Roger Garaudy.
"The Palestinian people should punish Ziad Al-Bandak for committing treason, for acknowledging the Jews' right to rule all of Palestine as compensation for their mass extermination at the hands of the Nazis in the camps of Auschwitz and Dachau.
"The Palestinian people should thwart Ziad Al-Bandak's [attempt to] infiltrate [the circle of] Palestinian decision-makers after becoming friendly with the Jews and weeping over their graves."
'Issa Sawf, a columnist for the Gazan website pulpit.alwatanvoice.com, said that Al-Bandak should apologize to the families of the Palestinian martyrs, prisoners and refugees, and all the others who are suffering from the occupation. He added that everyone remembers "the holocaust perpetrated by the grandchildren of those who [died] in the gas chambers of Auschwitz."