Abbas Compares Israel to Nazis During UN “Nakba Day” Event

May 17, 2023
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas / Michael M. Santiago / Staff / Getty Images

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas compared Israel to the Nazis and blamed the United States and Britain for the “Nakba” during the United Nations’ first ever “Nakba Day” event on May 15.

The “Nakba,” Arabic for catastrophe, is the Palestinian narrative regarding the establishment of Israel and the ensuing 1948 War for Independence. The Times of Israel and Jerusalem Post reported that Abbas said during his speech, “Israeli and Zionist claims continue by saying that Israel made the desert bloom … These are lies. They continue to lie, like Goebbels, and they continue to lie until people believe their lies.” Abbas also said that the U.S. and Britain share blame for the Nakba because “they took part in rendering our people a victim when they decided to establish and plant another entity [the Jewish people] in our historic homeland.”  The PA president called for Israel to be suspended from the U.N. until they agree to a Palestinian state and provide a right of return for Palestinians.

Additionally, Abbas denied any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount––one of the holiest sites in Judaism––and alleged that the Israeli government is perpetuating a “new Nakba” against the Palestinians.

The Anti-Defamation League tweeted that Abbas’ speech was “an anti-Israel tirade.” “His speech, which bizarrely claimed that the US & UK only supported a Jewish state ‘to get rid of their Jews,’ highlighted how institutionalized anti-Israel bias is at the UN,” they wrote.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) called Abbas’ claims “baseless” and a “distortion of history” that is “an affront to the memory of Holocaust victims.” “President Abbas has a long history of distorting the Holocaust for his own political gain,” the AJC added in a tweet. “His own Ph.D. dissertation denied the Holocaust and claimed Zionist collaboration with Nazis. It is not surprising that he would spout the same drivel at the UN.”

Human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovksy, who heads the International Legal Forum, noted in a May 16 Newsweek op-ed that during visit to Germany in 2022, Abbas also alleged that Israel engaged in “50 Holocausts” against the Palestinians. Abbas’ remarks resulted in a tongue-lashing from German Chancellor Olaf Schulz, who excoriated his comments as being “intolerable and unacceptable.” 

Ostrovsky also blasted the UN for failing to mention “that in 1947, the local Jewish leadership voted in favor of the UN Partition Plan for the creation of two states, whereas the Arabs rejected it and launched a merciless war of annihilation against the Jewish State the day after its establishment.” “Also buried in the UN commemoration of the ‘Nakba,’ is the fact that some 800,000 Jews were forced to flee from Arab countries in the wake of Israel’s establishment in 1948, yet are still to receive redress for this great injustice,” Ostrovsky continued. “Today, the only ‘catastrophe’ is that 75 years later, whereas Israel has made peace with most of her immediate Arab neighbors—and those beyond with the Abraham Accords—the Palestinian leadership is still seeking the Jewish state’s annihilation. And it’s all under the cover of the United Nations.” 

More than 30 countries boycotted the event, including the U.S. and Britain, after Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan urged countries to do so. Erdan wrote in a May 14 letter to member states “that attending this despicable event means destroying any chance of peace” and that attendance would be tantamount to “adopting the Palestinian narrative calling the State of Israel a disaster while ignoring Palestinian hate, incitement, terror and refusal to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state,” per The Jerusalem Post.

In a tweet, Stop Antisemitism lauded the countries “who refused to take part in the antisemitic farce, but have to ask why the UN would host such a hateful event in the first place?”

Ostrovsky noted that despite the boycott, “the room at the UN was still full, and included participation from some European nations, such as France, Spain, and Luxembourg, as well as senior UN officials” and that Abbas’ speech “was greeted with applause and cheers of ‘free, free Palestine’ and ‘From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free’” at the UN.

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