German Police Investigate Palestinian President for Incitement over Holocaust Comment

PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Marco Castro

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ claim that Israel had launched “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians—while he was speaking at a press conference in Germany—has led to more than condemnation. It’s also resulted in a criminal investigation by the police. The Independent reported over the weekend that Berlin Police confirmed a preliminary investigation for possible incitement to hatred has been opened against the Palestinian leader after a criminal complaint was lodged, following an earlier report by the German newspaper Bild.

Minimizing the Holocaust is a criminal offense in Germany, where Hitler launched the genocide that ultimately killed six million Jews during World War II. The article noted that the investigation is in a preliminary stage—not a full one—and regardless the German Foreign Ministry confirmed in The Independent’s report that Abbas won’t be eligible for prosecution for the crime as he has immunity as an official foreign visitor.

Nonetheless, the investigation adds further weight to the incident, which has led to not one but two condemnations by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. After a prior strong statement on Twitter, Scholz posted another one on Thursday recapping a call with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. In the tweet, translated into English by Google Translate, the German leader “assured him of the close partnership between Germany and #Israel . Our stance is clear, we condemn any attempt to deny or relativize the Holocaust.”

Israel released their own summary of the call, noting that Scholz “emphasized that he rejects and condemns Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s remarks, and that it was important for him to clarify this personally to the Prime Minister, as well as publicly.”

Lapid, who the press release noted is the son of Holocaust survivors, thanked Scholz. “The two emphasized the importance of ties between Israel and Germany, and agreed to continue the cooperation between their two countries in various fields,” said the Israeli statement.

While Germany has sought to distance themselves from Abbas’ outrageous comments—which Abbas has since tried to refine by noting the “singularity” and extreme severity of the Holocaust according to a report by the WAFA News Agency—other Palestinians have instead been angered by what they claim is an ongoing “campaign of incitement” against Abbas. Mahmoud al-Aloul, the deputy head of Abbas’ Fatah political faction, was quoted in a separate WAFA article as telling Voice of Palestine radio that the “incitement” against Abbas is “due to his strong adherence to the issues and constants of our people,” implying it wasn’t due to Abbas’ trivialization of the Holocaust.

Wasel Abu Yousef—an official in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the group that represents the Palestinians in international affairs—claimed in the WAFA report the anti-Abbas efforts are intended to hide alleged crimes committed by Israel.

The Palestinian officials in the so-called moderate political groups had good company in their defense of Abbas after his Holocaust comments: Hamas joined in too. In a press statement posted to the Hamas website, Member of Hamas Political Bureau Husam Badran condemned the German police’s announcement of an investigation into Abbas.

The official in the Palestinian terrorist organization claimed “world powers prove their bias towards” Israel with the move. He ended the statement by calling for national unity for Palestinians behind a program “based on comprehensive resistance to confront” Israel. The term “resistance” can refer to both political efforts and terrorism.

On the other hand, Germany wasn’t the only nation to condemn Abbas’ words. The United States did too, and underscored the significance of comments such as the ones made by Abbas.

“Not only of course is it a lie, but we know that Holocaust distortion can have dangerous consequences and can fuel anti-Semitism. We have seen that throughout the course of history,” said US State Department spokesperson Ned Price in comments to the press last Wednesday that were republished by the Department.

“We recognize that President Abbas today has, quote, reaffirmed that the Holocaust is ‘the most heinous crime’ in modern history, and we reject any attempts to draw false equivalencies or to minimize Holocaust atrocities.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, August 21, 2022)

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