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Palestinian President Accuses Jews of ‘Counterfeiting History and Religion,’ Claims Qur’an Says They ‘Fabricate Truth’

Abbas, whose doctorate denied the Holocaust and who accused rabbis of poisoning Palestinian water, is no stranger to anti-Semitic remarks

Yair Rosenberg
December 14, 2017
Mahmoud AbbasShutterstock

On Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation at a summit in Turkey. Understandably, Abbas condemned the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and reiterated Palestinian claims to the city. But then the Palestinian leader ventured into far more disturbing territory: instead of simply assailing the political policies of the United States and Israel, he began to assail Jews. Almost as an aside, Abbas declared:

I don’t want to discuss religion or history because they are really excellent in faking and counterfeiting history and religion. But if we read the Torah it says that the Canaanites were there before the time of our prophet Abraham and their existence continued since that time—this is in the Torah itself. But if they would like to fake this history, they are really masters in this and it is mentioned in the holy Qur’an they fabricate truth and they try to do that and they believe in that but we have been there in this location for thousands of years. (emphasis added)

Typically, Abbas presents his critiques of Israel as anti-Zionist rather than anti-Jewish. But of course, the Qur’an does not mention Zionists or Zionism—a modern political movement. It mentions Jews. Thus, according to Abbas, it is Jews who are “really excellent in faking and counterfeiting history and religion,” who “fabricate truth,” and who “are really masters in this.” Ironically, in this passage, Abbas was attempting to argue that the modern Palestinian people is actually descended from the biblical Canaanites, a dubious claim with little evidence to support it. Thus, he accused Jews of being fabricators of history while engaging in the same.

This is far from the first time the Palestinian president has dabbled in anti-Semitic invective. As has been previously reported:

Infamously, the Palestinian president’s 1982 doctoral dissertation denies the Holocaust, claiming that the number of Jews murdered has been exaggerated. (He posits one million as a more reasonable estimate.) Moreover, the entire genocide, argues Abbas, was in fact perpetrated by the Nazis in collaboration with the Zionists, whom he dubs the Third Reich’s “basic partner in crime.” Thus, while admitting that the Holocaust did technically transpire, he nonetheless manages to blame the Jews for it. To this day, the PhD is featured among Abbas’s other publications on his official web site, and he has reaffirmed its contents in interviews with Middle Eastern media.

Abbas has not only denied the Jewish genocide, he has falsely accused the Jewish state of perpetrating genocide. In September 2014, addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Abbas proclaimed that it was “a year of a new war of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people.” In fact, the Palestinian populations in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel have actually skyrocketed since Israel’s founding in 1948—as Palestinian media and Abbas’s own government Bureau of Statistics regularly celebrate.

In June 2016, Abbas had a similar mask-slipping moment when he addressed the E.U. parliament and went on a tangent about how Israeli rabbis had called to poison Palestinian water. As Reuters reported at the time, this “appeared to be an invocation of a widely debunked media report that recalled a medieval anti-Semitic libel.” During the Middle Ages, Jews were regularly accused of poisoning Europe’s wells, most notoriously during the Black Death. Such slanders frequently led to the murder of Jews, and have resurfaced to the present day. Following an international outcry, Abbas was forced to walk back his bigoted claim. Admitting it was false, he said that he “didn’t intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people.”

It remains a mystery, then, why he keeps doing it.

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.