The Holocaust Conspiracy Theory at the Heart of Mahmoud Abbas’s Worldview

In a 1984 book published in Arabic and entitled The Other Face, Mahmoud Abbas argued that the Holocaust was in fact a product of collaboration between Zionist leaders and Nazi Germany. He also claimed, as an aside, that the number of Jews killed during World War II was “likely much smaller” than six million, “perhaps less than a million.” Not to leave any stone unturned, the book, which has never been translated, asserts that Jews never suffered persecution in Arab lands. Edy Cohen notes the likely origins of the book’s primary thesis:

Throughout the entire work, Abbas presents a blanket indictment of Zionism and its leaders, from David Ben-Gurion on down. In effect, Abbas charges that they are war criminals who collaborated with the Nazis and those responsible for the Holocaust. He further claims that the Zionists encouraged anti-Semitism in Europe in order to increase aliyah to the land of Israel and accelerate the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine.

The Zionists, [in Abbas’s view], took part in the slaughter. They intentionally thwarted many efforts to rescue Jews. They encouraged hatred of Jews so the Nazis and others would take revenge by expanding the scope of the extermination. And they did all of this in collaboration with the Third Reich. In effect, Abbas claims there was a Zionist conspiracy against the Jewish people. Moreover, he claims that this has never been revealed because all those who tried to expose the conspiracy were assassinated by the Israeli government. . . .

Abbas’s thesis . . . is, from beginning to end, pure fantasy. But it did not spring fully formed from Abbas’s head. Upon investigation, I came to the unequivocal conclusion that Abbas’s book is based on Nazi and neo-Nazi propaganda disseminated in Argentina by Adolf Eichmann and his friend, the pro-Nazi Dutch journalist Wilhelmus Antonius Sassen. . . . Eichmann and Sassen claimed that the Holocaust was a lie, and that there were no gas chambers or crematoria in Hitler’s Europe. In 1957, Sassen interviewed Eichmann on the subject, and their conversations eventually comprised 659 typed pages. . . . [A] significant part of these conversations present claims identical to those of Abbas.

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More about: Adolf Eichmann, Holocaust, Holocaust denial, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform