02 May 2018
In his address on Monday, 30 April 2018, to the Palestinian National Council, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, sought to teach the Palestinians, and the rest of us, a purported "lesson in history", replete with antisemitic tropes and distortions of historical facts. Sadly, Abbas has chosen to assault Holocaust remembrance by attempting to convert the Shoah into a propaganda tool, blatantly falsifying history to the point of accusing the Jewish victims as being responsible for their own murder, and transforming Hitler into a Zionist.
In his remarks, Abbas claimed that the Holocaust did not result from antisemitism, but rather from the "social behavior" of Jews who dealt in loans and banking, activities which allegedly aroused opposition towards them by the peoples of Europe. In order to substantiate that claim, Abbas relied upon quotes from Karl Marx, Stalin and others. However, his own argument is itself fundamentally antisemitic, insofar as it incorporates a centuries-old antisemitic narrative that equates Jews with monetary greed. Even basic acquaintance with Jewish history would teach Abbas not only that the Jews pursued, then and now, a wide variety of professions and occupations, but that the majority of them at that time were impoverished. Even basic acquaintance with European history would inform Abbas about the escalation of antisemitism throughout Europe during the second half of the 19th century and the start of the 20th, and that this was in effect the prime context for the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.
Abbas claims that a transfer agreement signed by representatives of the Zionist movement with the German government ostensibly one month after Hitler's rise to power supposedly proves that Hitler was lenient towards the immigration of Jews to Mandatory Palestine, and in effect supported Zionism. Actually, Hitler concisely articulated his attitude towards the Zionist endeavor in his book Mein Kampf, where he wrote that the purpose of Zionism is "the establishment of a central organization for their [the Jews'] worldwide swindle, endowed with its own sovereign rights and removed from the intervention of other states: a haven for convicted scoundrels and a university for budding crooks." In other words, Hitler's actual position towards Zionism was totally opposite that which Abbas baselessly ascribes to him.
As for the transfer agreement between the Jewish Agency and the German Treasury, signed more than six months after Hitler's rise to power, it of course did not constitute intentional Nazi support for Zionism. Rather, it was the result of the initial stage of the Nazis' anti-Jewish policy, which at that time sought to bring about the emigration of all Jews from Germany, as rapidly as possible. The German "escape tax" had been in existence prior to the Nazis' takeover, and was aimed at preventing the loss of monetary capital. The Jewish Agency's negotiations secured a complex financial agreement that enabled some Jews emigrating from Germany to Mandatory Palestine to eventually receive a portion of the funds they left behind. Relatively few Jews emigrated within this framework, and Hitler was not involved whatsoever in its formulation.
The Holocaust resulted from the Nazi belief that Jewish existence must be totally eliminated. In May 1941, as the Holocaust was taking place, Hitler made clear to the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, that once German forces had broken through from the southern Caucasus region into the Middle East, "Germany's goal will be the extermination of the Jews who reside in Arab territories under British rule" (as noted in the meeting's minutes).
The historical facts of the Holocaust are available to Chairman Abbas, and other speakers of Arabic around the world, on Yad Vashem's website.