"The Zionist movement did not send any assistance, financial or otherwise, for the victims of Nazism and it did not allow any other side to provide any kind of aid. The Zionist movement concealed the information that came from within the ghetto walls and concentration camps, news that shed light on what was really happening. If it had to publish anything, it did so by questioning that information and diminishing its importance."
"Zionism adopted the Nazi selection principle, when it went to save Jews from the slaughter. It made itself the ultimate arbiter regarding Jewish life, deciding who deserves to live and who deserves to die."
"The Zionist movement did not make any effort to convince Western countries to take in the Jewish refugees escaping the horrors of the Holocaust. It even placed obstacles I the way of efforts made by Christian groups or by non-Zionist Jews or a number of countries that saw fit to find a solution to this humanitarian problem."
"All of this wasn't enough - the Zionist movement led a broad campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule to arouse the government's hatred of them, to fuel vengeance against them and to expand the mass extermination."
From Mahmoud Abbas' book "The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism" (Billsan Publising House, Ramallah, 2011), based on his doctoral dissertation.
The Palestinian Authority's new media division is putting considerable effort it seems into the construction and maintenance of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' official website. The site is user-friendly and includes information on the familiar parts of Abbas' resume - from his childhood in Safed to the president's office in Ramallah. The site details Abbas' political journey as a Palestinian leader, without forgetting to include all of the awards and citations he has received along the way.
The site is updated often and includes, for example, recent video clips such as Abbas' speech to the UN General Assembly in September, in which he accused the State of Israel of war crimes and - effectively - of genocide, thus severely damaging, many believe, the chances of reviving the peace talks between Israel and the PA in the foreseeable future.
As one would expect from such a site, it glorifies Abbas' work, aiming to describe him as a combination of a charismatic leader, a popular and well-liked international figure, a refugee who personally experienced the tragedy of the Palestinian people, and a man of vision. But just as importantly - he is presented as a philosopher with a unique perspective on history, and an important intellectual.
To bolster that last component, the third menu item on the left of the homepage for Abbas' official website highlights his "Books and Publications." That link leads to a page with no less than 18 books written by the very prolific Abbas - most dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The books were published by several publishers over the years, but all of them were reprinted in a similar format (size, font, cover) by a Ramallah publisher with funding from the Palestinian Authority in 2011.
One of them, with dark blue cover, is called "The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism." Those who don't want to search for the book in Ramallah book stores can read it, page-by-page in a sophisticated interface on the presidential website - but only in Arabic.
In this book, Abbas wonders, among other things, "How can one believe that the Zionist movement, which set out to protect a nation, would later become the reason for its destruction? History teaches us about (the Emperor) Nero who torched Rome. But Nero was mad, and his madness rids him of the responsibility to his actions. History also teaches us about leaders who betrayed their people and their country and sold them out to their enemies. But these leaders are isolated. They alone carry the responsibility for their actions. But when a large national public movement conspires against its 'people,' well that is embarrassing...
"An Arab proverb says: 'If a dispute arises between thieves, the theft is discovered.' This is what happened with the Zionist movement. When 'Labor' (Mapai) was in power in the State of Israel, it refused to include the revisionists and those started exposing facts and blowing away the smoke screen of lies. We cannot fail to mention that many of the Zionist movement's people during the war were amazed of the results of the cooperation between the Zionists and the Nazis, and the massive amount of victims struck them with terror… To this one must add that many documents from the Third Reich had reached many hands, which allowed us to present these documents that illustrate the nature of the relations and cooperation between the Nazis and the Zionist movement."
Abbas has in the past been criticized for being a Holocaust denier. The accusations were based on a translation of excerpts of the introduction to his doctoral paper, which he wrote in Moscow in 1982. There - it was claimed - Abbas cast doubt on the fact six million Jews had been murdered, and even questioned the existence of the gas chambers.
Since then, Abbas has decisively rejected these accusations, claiming that his words were taken out of context and that the accusations were based on biased translations of only parts of the introduction, rather than a reading of the full text.
In May 2003, when he was the Palestinian prime minister, Abbas said in an interview with Akiva Eldar in Haaretz: "I wrote in detail about the Holocaust and said I did not want to discuss numbers. I quoted an argument between historians in which various numbers of casualties were mentioned.
"One wrote there were twelve million victims and another wrote there were 800,000. I have no desire to argue with the figures. The Holocaust was a terrible, unforgivable crime against the Jewish nation, a crime against humanity that cannot be accepted by humankind. The Holocaust was a terrible thing and nobody can claim I denied it."
It's important to note that when the book and the topics mentioned in it were discussed in the Arab media, Abbas spoke differently than he did in the Israeli or American press.
For example, in an extensive interview with Lebanese satellite channel Al Mayadeen in January 2013, Abbas vehemently defended his thesis and his book, saying he was willing to "challenge anyone to deny the relationship between Zionism and Nazism before World War Two."
On February 16, 2014, Abbas received a large delegation of Israeli students at his office, as a part of the Palestinian Authority's PA campaign to the Israeli public.
"Assalamu alaikum," he said in Arabic to the students and then added in Hebrew "Shalom Aleichem" (both meaning "Peace be upon you"). Abbas was very friendly during that meeting, addressed a series of important issues between the two peoples and even answered a question about the Holocaust:
"How do I deny the Holocaust? Did you read the book? No. So read the book and see if I have denied the Holocaust. I know that millions of Jews were murdered in the Holocaust," he said.
To reinforce his statements on the topic, Abbas made a statement via the Palestinian news agency two months later, on April 27, calling the Holocaust "the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era." He added the Holocaust was a result of "ethnic discrimination and racism, which the Palestinians strongly reject and act against."
But more thorough research, conducted in the past six months by Dr. Edy Cohen, a research fellow at the center for international media at Bar-Ilan University, found that there is a wide gap between the more or less clear-cut statements Abbas makes, declares and publishes in English, and the things he writes in Arabic and that are published by the Palestinian Authority and appear on his personal website.
The fact the books were recently reprinted with funding from the Palestinian Authority and are recommended on the PA president's official website, negates the claims made by Abbas and his associates several times that this is just a thesis paper released over 30 years ago.
So perhaps it is true that Abbas, as he testifies about himself, does indeed believe the Holocaust was a heinous crime against humanity, but his writing, that are still being printed, twist and distort the historical reality, as experts note.
Ammunition against the Zionists
Abbas wrote his doctoral paper at graduate school in Moscow in the early 1980s. Twenty years earlier, on February 5, 1960, the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (later to be named after Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba) was founded in Moscow, with the declared objective of aiding third world and African countries to access higher education. The goal was to increase the Soviet Union and Communism's influence in the developing world.
Thanks to good ties throughout the years between the eastern bloc and the PLO, many of the organization's members went to study at the university. Mahmoud Abbas, then one of the organization's senior political leaders and in charge of the PLO's foreign relations, himself went at the university in the early 80s.
When he arrived in Moscow, Abbas already had an undergraduate's degree from the Institute of Law at the University of Damascus. In Moscow, he was working for a degree in what is known in Russian as "Candidate of Sciences," similar to a doctorate in social sciences in Western universities.
The Moscow University rector, Yevgeny Primakov, who later became the Russian foreign minister and prime minister, appointed his senior expert on the Middle East, Prof. Vladimir Ivanovich Kiselev, as the Palestinian leader's dissertation adviser.
Two decades later, Kiselev said Abbas was a well-prepared graduate student, who came to Moscow with an already chosen research topic and a large amount of already prepared material.
According to intelligence received at that time by Israel, Abbas ordered several researchers from the PLO's large archive, which was functioning at the time in Beirut and funded generously by Arab countries, to gather an intensive collection of material on the Holocaust and "the connections between Zionism and Nazism."
As part of this collection, numerous publications on the relationship between fascist elements in Europe and the Lehi ("the Stern Gang") movement before World War II were also examined. According to this intelligence information, the PLO archive received numerous publications distributed at that time by the Communist Party of East Germany, which accused "Western imperialism and Zionism" of collaborating with the Nazis.
These reports were part of extensive propaganda, which was employed during these years, trying to connect the Soviet Union's primary enemies - the West and the Nazis (see the statements below on this subject by Prof. Dina Porat).
Intelligence shows that a German-speaking official translated these publications into Arabic. Furthermore, one of the directors of the archive, an Israeli Arab who spent many years in an Israeli prison and moved to Lebanon upon his release, translated material from Hebrew. All of this material was put into several detailed reports by PLO archivists and given to Abbas.
According to a former Israeli intelligence operative, "At the time (the early 1980s), these reports were not significant given the sea of information we had received from the PLO, which mostly addressed the issues of weapons and terrorist attacks - and of course this was of more interested to us. We thought we would find this material in some official PLO publication. Only years later did we realize that it was the material that helped Abbas to write his dissertation".
Abbas completed his Ph.D. in May 1982, shortly before Israel's invasion of Lebanon; it was approved by the university and received much acclaim. Two years later, in 1984, the doctorate was published as a book in Amman, Jordan. On the cover of the book was an illustration of an Israeli soldier in a helmet bearing the Star of David and behind him a Nazi soldier wearing a hat with a swastika on it.
In later versions of the book, the cover illustration was changed and the soldiers removed. The book itself was republished in Cairo in 1997 and in Ramallah in 2011.
Abbas' main claims in his doctorate are that Zionist leaders ignored the Holocaust of European Jewry, sacrificing them so that they could claim a national home; that the Zionist movement deliberately and systematically thwarted the rescue of Jews from Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and the Baltic countries; that Jews who abandoned their homes in Arab countries did not suffer any harassment or persecution, and that the root of the conflict between them and the Arabs was the privileges that they received from the French and British colonialists.
Abbas' statement that there was no persecution or harassment of Jews in Arab countries is particularly painful to Dr. Edy Cohen.
He was born in Lebanon and served for many years in a variety of positions in the Israeli intelligence community. He is also the son of Chaim Cohen, one of the leaders of the Jewish community in Lebanon, who was kidnapped and murdered along with several colleagues in March 1985 by Hezbollah, which claimed that they were Mossad agents.
Dr. Cohen is today involved with organizations working to gain compensation for Jewish refugees who fled Iran and the Arab countries. He was also a research fellow at the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem. His areas of research include the cooperation between Arabs and Nazis, the life of Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, and the ideology of radical Islam.
Dr. Cohen: "Throughout the book, Abbas presents his thesis, which is actually an indictment against Zionism and its leaders, from David Ben-Gurion and onwards. In effect, Abbas accuses them of being criminals who collaborated with the Nazis and those responsible for the destruction of their people during the Holocaust.
"Abbas claims they deliberately thwarted many missions to save the Jews, inflamed hatred of the Jews by governments in order to fuel vengeance against them and expand the mass extermination - all the while collaborating with the Third Reich."
At the start of the book, entitled "The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism", Abbas ponders the identity of the other side, the secret partner to the crimes that took place during World War II.
He writes that Western countries "outlined a plan for the final framing of the results of the war, and everything that derives from these. … (T)hey accused the leaders of Nazism of all the crimes that occurred during that war, and persecuted those of them who were still alive, for an unlimited period, without any statute of limitations… thus these countries only dealt with half of the truth, and neglected - deliberately – the second half."
That "second half "of the responsibility for the events of the war is shared by the Zionist movement, who according to Abbas collaborated with the Nazis.
"When one discusses declared Zionist thought … we find that the Zionists believe in the purity of the Jewish race, just as Hitler believed in the purity of the Aryan race. Zionism calls for a fundamental and final solution to the Jewish Question in Europe via their immigration to Palestine. Hitler also calls for this and implements this … David Ben-Gurion defined the Zionist movement as solely a movement of immigration, and anyone who doesn't immigrate is a heretic and not considered a Jew," wrote Abbas.
And why did the heads of the Zionist movement need to connect with the Nazi leadership? The reason, according to Abbas, is that Zionism did not inspire great enthusiasm among the world's Jews before World War II.
For example, he writes: "The Jews of Europe in general and the Jews of Eastern Europe in particular did not adopt Zionism and did not believe in it. The national home for the Jews did not interest them at all. Therefore when the Holocaust was wrought upon them, the free world ignored their fate. But the first to ignore them were the Zionists who lived in Jerusalem, those whose lust for power had blinded them."
Dr. Cohen: "A complete reading of the text of the book shows that according to Abbas, Zionist leaders saw the persecution and harassment of (Jews) as desirable and acceptable – in order to force them to go to Israel. In his opinion, all measures were acceptable to achieve this goal - including collaboration with the Nazis."
In this context, writes Abbas: "It is well known that the motivation of anti-Semitism is persecution and repression, and this is definitely desirable for the Zionist movement. The conclusion from these ideas is that every racist in the world was given the green light, and first and foremost Hitler and the Nazis, to do with the Jews as they wish, as long as it ensures Jewish immigration to Palestine. The Zionist movement did not suffice with just giving a green light – but demanded even more victims, in order to be equal with the victims of other people in the war. This because it believes that raising the number of victims will increase its stock at the end of war, when the spoils are divided."
Thus, according to Abbas, the reason why the Zionist movement refused to act to save thousands of Jews from these countries during the Holocaust was a desire to "increase the amount of victims and receive privileges at the end of the war."
Abbas also claims that anyone who tried to tear this mask of lies and conspiracy with the Nazis off from the face of the Zionist movement paid for it with his life.
For example, he claims that Mossad abducted Adolf Eichmann from Argentina after he revealed the details of this plot to the American magazine "Life". In other words, it was not Eichmann's responsibility for implementing the Final Solution that led Mossad to its abduction mission in Buenos Aires, but the desire to silence the high-ranking Nazi on the subject of who was behind the execution of the Holocaust.
Incidentally, Abbas ignores the fact that this argument is rendered invalid due to its basis on an incorrect sequence of events: Eichmann was seized in Argentina on May 11, 1960, after a long-lasting Mossad operation to catch him, and it was only five months later that his two-part Life interview was published.
Abbas steps up the conspiracy theory by bringing in the 1957 assassination of Israel Kastner. He argues, for example, that Kastner was assassinated by the Shin Bet security service for intending to reveal the details of the Zionist-Nazi plot in court. As for the number of victims, Abbas writes that while "there are rumors" of six million killed, no one is able to confirm or deny this figure. "The number of Jewish victims may be six million, and it may be far smaller, less than a million," he says.
Abbas does stress, however that, "the debate regarding the Jewish number, does not in any way detract from the ugliness of the act done against them. Because the principle of killing a man – only one man – is a crime that cannot be accepted in the civilized world, it's not humane."
Even so, he immediately returns to attacking his primary target: "It seems that it was the interest of the Zionist movement to inflate the numbers of those who died in the war, so that the profits it desired would be as high as possible. This is to establish this number (six million) for world opinion, so that the latter would feel more pangs of conscience and sympathy for Zionism."
Abbas refers to comments by Canadian Holocaust denier Roger Delorme, about the "real" figures, and quotes an assessment by highly respected Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg in his book "The destruction of European Jewry".
According to Hilberg, Abbas says, the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust does not exceed 896,000. But Hilberg was speaking of five million dead. Abbas is using a quote that does not exist at all.
Dr. Cohen: "When you examine the issue closely, it becomes clear that much of what Abbas writes is based on Nazi and neo-Nazi propaganda, distributed in Argentina by the very same Eichmann and his Dutch journalist friend, the pro-Nazi Willem Antonius Sassen.
"Together with other Nazis, the two published a magazine called Der Weg ("The Way") through which they disseminated 'information' which aimed to refute what they called "the six million falsehood.
"The magazine claimed that the Holocaust was a story and that in Hitler's Europe there never had been gas chambers or crematoria for burning bodies. In 1957, Sassen interviewed Eichmann about the Final Solution, and the conversation between the two ran to 659 typewritten-pages. Much of the conversation between Eichmann and Sassen was completely identical to what Abbas had written."
The fourth and final part of Abbas' book refers extensively to the issue of anti-Semitism in Arab countries (see the comments below by Dr. Esther Webman).
He argues that there had been no anti-Semitism at all and explained that if the Jews had suffered from manifestations of violence by the local population, it was the result of external intervention granting them various privileges.
For example, Abbas argues, France granted citizenship to the Jews of Morocco so that France could have a foothold there. Granting this citizenship, says Abbas, inflamed tensions and soured relations between Jews and Muslims.
"Abbas ignores the persecution and mass deportation of Jews from Arab lands," says Dr. Cohen. "He ignores the historical facts and denies attacks against Jews in most of these countries. Between 1940 and 1970, tens of thousands of Jews were expelled from Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Algeria. Hundreds were killed in those and other countries just because they were Jews, and a myriad of Jewish property was confiscated or stolen by those same countries."
The office of Mahmoud Abbas did not respond to any of the questions presented to him regarding this article.
'Abbas's doctorate joins fierce anti-Zionist propaganda promulgated by the Soviet Union'
Prof. Dina Porat, chief historian of Yad Vashem and the head of the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University writes:
The 1980s provided a comfortable backdrop for Abbas to write his dissertation, later published as a book, on "secret connections between the Nazis and the Zionist movement." In 1975, the UN passed the resolution stating that Zionism is racism, under pressure from the Soviet Union, which enlisted the votes of the Third World nations and the Arab countries.
During this period, the Soviet Union spearheaded a campaign of anti-Zionist propaganda, strongly centered on the claim that Zionism was guilty of collaboration with the Nazi regime. Abbas' doctoral dissertation, which was approved in 1982 in Moscow, became part of this campaign, which sparked the release of multiple different publications until the Gorbachev era.
The Soviets were joined in this opinion by ultra-Orthodox sects in Israel and Brooklyn. They too began to accuse Zionism of responsibility for the Holocaust, both theologically and practically. They used phrases like "criminals of the Holocaust who contributed to the extermination." Leftist extremists as well, such as the Trotskyites, published books and plays in the 1980s that accused Zionism of collaborating with the Nazis.
As it spread, this accusation helped to deflect from the intensity of cooperation with the Nazis in parts of the Arab world during the 1940s. Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, who spent part of the war years in Berlin, was in contact with Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann, and very much hoped that the campaign of eradication implemented by Nazi Germany would also spill over into the Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael (the Yishuv).
Throughout those years, publications by Western Holocaust deniers were translated into Arabic. Mahmoud Abbas cites the leading Holocaust deniers of the time, Robert Faurisson of France and Canadian Roger DeLorme. This creates a contradiction that is difficult to reconcile - between the accusations of collaboration and Holocaust denial. If there was cooperation, and due to the aspirations of Zionism millions were killed, it means there was a Holocaust. But if only few were killed, in war and not intentionally, as claimed by Holocaust deniers, what sin did Zionism commit?
The central accusation, that Zionists collaborated with the Nazis, presents arguments that completely ignore the reality of Jews living in Europe and the Yishuv during the Holocaust. A further example of disregard here is for the academic-research rule of pointing to sources and then relying on them. A recurring argument is that the purpose of the collaboration was to establish a racist state populated only Zionists, as though Jews and Zionists are of different races.d And this - after the Nazis had killed the Jews that were not Zionists and allowed the Zionists to immigrate to Palestine.
Given this terrible accusation, it should be noted that before the war only about ten percent of the Jewish people were members of an organized Zionist movement; most of the Jews of Europe were Bund members, communists and Orthodox; the Nazi leadership was vehemently opposed to the establishment of a Jewish state and determined to kill every Jew, regardless of his or her views, without any external instructions; the Zionist movement had no power or influence over this determination, nor over the position of the Allies; under the British Mandate lived less than half a million Jews and some one million Arabs.
The constant exaggeration of the power of Zionism is the opposite of the reality, the essence of which was mainly helplessness and a lack of resources. It should be noted that most of the Yishuv came from Europe, leaving behind the parental homes, communities and movements in which they were raised, how could they want them all to be murdered?
Internal criticism of the conduct of the Zionist movement and the Yishuv leadership during the Holocaust, and disputes about events and affairs, have not yet been settled. But there is an infinite distance between this criticism and allegations of collusion in the murder of millions to implement a political agenda.
'Abbas is wrong and misleading'
"Abbas's argument is far from accurate," says Dr. Esther Webman, an expert on antisemitism in the Arab world. "There were manifestations of violence against Jews even before the penetration of the colonial powers into the Middle East, but it is fair to say that compared to the pogroms to which Jews were subjected in the Christian world, they were less extensive and less severe.
"External intervention and privileges for the Christian - and later the Jewish - minorities that were enshrined in the Capitulations of the Ottoman Empire indeed undermined the fabric of relations within the local population, but another factor was the Ottoman reforms that granted equal rights to all the subjects of the empire, which were not well received by the Muslim neighbors of those minorities.
"The example of the Moroccan Jews cited by Abbas is false, if not misleading. France did not grant citizenship to the Jews of Morocco, contrary to what happened in Algeria."
Opinions are also divided on the details of another event, which took place in Damascus in 1840, in which a Christian priest and his Muslim servant were kidnapped. At the time it was claimed that Jews abducted the two and murdered them in order to use their blood in Passover matzo. Abbas argues that this is not a blood libel.
Dr. Webman: "Here, too, Abbas is wrong and misleading. Jews did not kidnap and did not murder, it was a blood libel in every sense of the word. Community leaders were imprisoned; one of the prisoners confessed under torture, and one of them even met his death.
"They were released following intervention by Moses Montefiore and Adolphe Crémieux with Sultan Abdülmecid I, and not Abdul Hamid as Abbas writes, and with Muhammad Ali, who controlled the region. The Sultan indeed issued a firman (an official decree by the sultan) renouncing accusations that the Jews killed people for their religious rituals."
Dr. Esther Webman is a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. Her book, "From Empathy to Denial: Arab Responses to the Holocaust", co-written with Prof. Meir Litvak, will be published in Hebrew by Magnes.