Netanyahu accuses Palestinian president of antisemitism

Glen Norman
May 3, 2018

In an editorial published Tuesday, The New York Times slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's speech on Monday in which he claimed Jews "social role related to usury and banks" was to blame for millennia of antisemitism, calling on him to step down from his role as a Palestinian leader. But why did this happen? Despite masses of evidence that the Nazis were responsible for the Holocaust, Abbas chose to say that it was not the result of anti semitism but instead somehow a function of Jewish "social behavior, [charging] interest, and financial matters". Apparently in the Arab world, too, Jews brought upon themselves the anti-Jewish persecution and violence they so often faced.

Abbas also portrayed the creation of Israel as a European colonial project, saying "history tells us there is no basis for the Jewish homeland".

The European Union called the remarks "unacceptable". The European External Action Service in Brussels said in a statement: "Such rhetoric (about the Jews) will only play into the hands of those who do not want a two-state solution, which President Abbas has repeatedly advocated".

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also condemned the comments.

The U.N.'s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, said in a statement that "leaders have an obligation to confront anti-Semitism everywhere and always, not perpetuate the conspiracy theories that fuel it".

In a startling public accusation, a Palestinian organization in Germany rejected the Palestinian president's remarks as anti-Semitic and objectionable.

"Abu Mazen has reached a new low", Ambassador David Friedman tweeted early Wednesday, referring to Abbas by his nickname.

Abbas, elected to a four-year term in 2005 but who has remained in office in the absence of fresh elections, had not responded to the condemnations.

The editorial concluded with a declaration urging a change of Palestinian leadership.

As leader of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas represents the main figure representing Palestinians in potential peace talks with Isreal.

Mr Friedman and Mr Abbas have clashed before. In March, Abbas called Friedman a "son of a dog" in an angry rant. "Is that anti-Semitism or political discourse?"

In June 2016 the ADL condemned Abbas for using language in a speech before the European Parliament that is "reminiscent of age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes". A month earlier Abbas had said that the Palestinians would not allow the Jews to defile the holy places in Jerusalem with their "filthy feet".

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