World

Abbas sparks outrage with Holocaust accusation against Israel

BERLIN — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sparked outrage on Tuesday when he accused Israel of committing a "Holocaust" against Palestinians during a Berlin press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

During the joint press conference, Abbas said that "Israel has committed 50 massacres in 50 Palestinian locations since 1947." He then added "50 massacres, 50 Holocausts."

Abbas' remarks were in response to a journalist who asked whether he would apologize to Israel on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the attack by Palestinian terrorists on the Israeli team during the 1972 Olympics in Munich, which resulted in the death of 10 Israeli athletes and coaches as well as one German police officer.

Scholz listened to the statements with a look of alarm and annoyance, but did not offer an immediate reply.

His spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit declared the news conference over immediately after Abbas' answer, which had been previously announced as the last question.

Hebestreit said afterwards that Scholz was outraged by Abbas' statements.

"For us Germans in particular, any relativization of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable," Scholz later told the German tabloid Bild.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid also responded.

"Mahmoud Abbas accusing Israel of having committed '50 Holocausts' while standing on German soil is not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie," Lapid tweeted.

"Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, including one and a half million Jewish children," Lapid wrote. "History will never forgive him."

Germany's opposition conservatives said the way Scholz handled the incident was "incomprehensible."

Christian Democrats leader Friedrich Merz said the chancellor should have "clearly and unequivocally contradicted the Palestinian president and asked him to leave!" he wrote on Twitter, while Bundestag member Armin Laschet said that Abbas' accusations were "the most disgusting speech ever heard in the German Chancellery."

This was not the first time Abbas caused a stir with a Holocaust remark. In 2018, he said the murder of some 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany was not triggered by anti-Semitism.

Rather, Abbas said it was caused by the social position of Jews as interest-seeking lenders of credit, deploying the anti-Semitic trope of Jews as greedy money lovers. Abbas later apologized.

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©2022 dpa GmbH. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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This story was originally published August 16, 2022 7:59 PM.

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