During a joint press conference in Berlin for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz last week, a German journalist asked Abbas whether he was ready to apologise to Israel over the 1972 attack on Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich.
“If we want to dig further into the past, yes, please, I have 50 massacres that were committed by Israel,” replied Abbas. “Fifty massacres, 50 holocausts, and to this day, every day, we have dead people killed by the Israeli army.” His comments created a storm of protest.
The PA president did not intend to disrespect the Holocaust and what happened to Jews at the hands of the Nazis during World War Two. He did not mean to downplay their suffering, which everyone in the world regards as appalling. Muslims in particular regard such treatment of fellow human beings to be reprehensible.
In Islam, inflicting suffering on people and even animals is a major sin. At the same time, knowing or seeing people being beaten, oppressed or killed without offering any help to them is also a sin. Islam is the predominant religion among Palestinians, and it pays special attention to the other “People of the Book” — Jews and Christians — and their sanctities and closeness to Muslims.
“The president’s statement was not intended to deny the singularity of the Holocaust,” explained Abbas’s office. It reaffirmed his belief that it remains “the most heinous crime in modern human history.”
The official statement continued: “What he meant by the crimes that he spoke about are the crimes and massacres committed against the Palestinian people since the 1948 Nakba at the hands of Israeli forces. These crimes have not stopped to this day.”
We Palestinians, and Muslims in general, do not take lightly having to see anyone in pain or leave someone suffering without offering whatever help we can give. We condemn what happened to the Jews in Europe in the strongest possible terms, while also reminding those who support the Zionist state of Israel that being victims of oppression in one continent does not entitle you to oppress people in another.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that history will not forgive Abbas for his abuse of Jews and alleged disrespect to their painful history. To Lapid I say this: history will never forgive you for the killing of innocent Palestinians as recently as less than two weeks ago when 17 children and four women were among the 49 Palestinians killed in a military offensive ordered by you against those of us who live in the besieged Gaza Strip.The same goes for other Israeli officials who were angered by Abbas’s remarks. History will never forgive them for killing thousands of Palestinians and displacing hundreds of thousands over the years. History will never forgive them for Israel’s continuous and ongoing oppression of the Palestinians since 1948, not least the blockade imposed on 2.3 million civilians in the occupied Gaza Strip for sixteen years and counting.
Nor will the Israeli officials and politicians who were honoured as “men of peace” even after killing Palestinians before, during and ever since the Israeli occupation of Palestine, be forgotten by history for their crimes. They may have been whitewashed by Western leaders and media, but the Palestinians haven’t forgotten what they have done.
At the same time, I am sending the same message to world leaders who protect the occupation state of Israel and allow it to act with impunity. They are on the wrong side of history. Not only are they not achieving justice for the Jews who were persecuted by the Nazis, but they are also complicit in the oppression of a nation which has been suffering under the self-declared “Jewish state” and its supporters since before it was established in Palestine in 1948.
I am asking world leaders to end their wicked and unacceptable bias towards the Israeli apartheid regime and start to seek a just solution to the conflict that they were instrumental in starting. Germany’s Chancellor Scholz is an example for the world leaders who cannot be trusted in this respect. He denied the description of the Israeli treatment of Palestinians as “apartheid”, despite it being used by major international human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, as well as the UN and Israel’s own B’Tselem.
Germany was the first state to block commemoration of the 1948 Nakba, and yet it promotes the state which arose out of that catastrophe, Israel, and continues to prolong the tragedy of the Palestinians. There are many world leaders in the same boat as Scholz.
When will international institutions take up their responsibilities regarding the implementation of international laws and conventions which they claim to uphold? Take a look at yourselves behind the gloss and façade: your role is limited and ineffectual when it comes to powerful nations who are oppressive.
Far away from the world leaders and international institutions, I am sending another message to the international mass media. Mainstream journalists ignore the principles of their profession based on commitment to the truth and standing beside the oppressed against the oppressors. They take the lead in the whitewashing of Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.
The world rightly recognises the suffering of Jews, and recognises the suffering of Ukrainians and others. When will it recognise the suffering of the Palestinians and the tragedies inflicted upon them by the apartheid state of Israel? And when will the world work towards ending Israel’s brutal military occupation?
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.