David Bedein holds the cover of Abu Mazen's book.
On Monday, the Israeli government issued vehement denunciation of the conference convened by the Iranian government in Teheran to promote the denial of the mass murder of the Jews in World War II, in an act of holocaust denial. Our news agency asked the spokespeople of the government of Israel if they would also denounce the leader of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, for the holocaust denial which has been an integral part of his legacy.
However, the government of Israel would issue no such denunciation of Abbas, who wrote his doctorate in 1982 in Moscow, at the Institute for Oriental Studies. The institute was headed by Yevgeny Primakov, a Jew, an Arabist, an avowed friend of Saddam Hussein and other Arab rulers, and eventually the prime minister of Russia. Of all these qualities, Abu Mazen emphasized mainly Primakov's Jewish origin.
The heading of his doctoral thesis was: "Zionist leadership and the Nazis." The introduction dealt, among other topics, with a loaded issue: How many Jews perished in the Holocaust. In the Soviet period, especially in the anti-Israel institute that Abu Mazen attended, they often dealt with such questions. The Soviet Union, more than any other country, was addicted to Holocaust denial. The victims were not recognized by their origin, but rather by their nationality. And this is what the diligent researcher Mahmoud Abbas wrote:
World War Two caused the death of 40 million people from different parts of the world. Ten million Germans, 20 million Soviets, and more…Rumors at the end of the war said that 6 million of the world's Jews were among the victims in the war of extermination that was waged against the Jewish people and later on against other peoples. The fact is that no one can confirm this number or deny it. The number could be 6 million, but it could be much smaller, perhaps even smaller than one million. The controversy over the number must not divert us from the severity of the crime committed against the Jewish people. The murder of a human being is a crime that the cultured world must not accept.
"Many researchers who discussed the number reached the unconventional conclusion that it is no more than several hundred thousand," he wrote. Later on, Abu Mazen quotes a Holocaust denier who claimed that "at first the Zionists spoke about 12 million Jews who were killed in the death camps. They later narrowed the number down to 6 and to 4 million. It is not possible that the Germans murdered more Jews than existed in the world at the time." He quotes another Holocaust denier who counted 896,000 Jewish victims in all.
In May 2003, shortly after Abbas became the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, correspondents from the Israeli media confronted him with his thesis. In that meeting with Israeli reporters, Abbas would not apologize nor retract the Holocaust denial thesis that he had written. Abbas has consistently refused to distance himself from his thesis. However, the Israeli government is not pushing him to do so.
After all, there are political considerations, since the Israeli government is currently in negotiation with Abbas. In other words, to deny the holocaust in Teheran is reprehensible; to do so in Ramallah is acceptable.
You might call this the first case of “politically correct” Holocaust denial.
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