Next month will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the kidnapping and massacre of eleven Israeli athletes at the Olympics in Munich. The Israelis were taken hostage and murdered by Palestinian terrorists of “Black September”, most of whom were also eventually killed.
The two articles below concern controversy over the commemoration of the massacre, and were translated by Gary Fouse.
Official recognition of the anniversary has been clouded by two recent issues in Germany. First, remarks by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have caused consternation. Mind you, Mr. Abbas was also one of the masterminds of the Black September massacre, but we’re supposed to forget about that niggling little detail.
Middle East conflict
Palestinian president Abbas causes anger in Berlin with Holocaust comparison
After a meeting with Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of a “Holocaust” and with that, unleashed heavy criticism. The term “apartheid” was also mentioned at the press conference.
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz sees no “apartheid” in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel. After a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin, Scholz said he didn’t want to use this term. Abbas had previously spoken about “apartheid” and raised serious accusations against Israel. Abbas demanded that the EU and UN fully recognize the Palestinian state.
Currently the Palestinians only have observer status at the UN. However, Scholz rejected Abbas’ demand. Germany continues to support a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, he said. This is “not the time to change anything.”
Abbas expressed disappointment that after the visit of US President Joe Biden, the US had also made no steps towards a new Middle East initiative. “We are still awaiting today the practical steps that follow words,” he said with a view toward Biden, who had also spoken in favor of a two-state solution.
Abbas accuses Israel of “Holocaust”
Abbas caused serious irritation when he accused Israel of a “Holocaust” against the Palestinians. Israel has “committed 50 massacres, 50 Holocausts” against the Palestinians. Scholz followed the statements visibly angered and with a stony expression, and he was prepared to reply. His spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit declared the press conference over immediately after Abbas’ answer. The question to the Palestinian president had already been announced as the last. Hebestreit later reported that Scholz was angered by the Abbas statement.
Deutsche Welle correspondent Nina Haase, who was present at the press conference, analyzed the incident this way: “Scholz didn’t look good here. But it is also unclear whether Abbas did his cause any good by knowingly provoking the German Chancellor in this manner. It could affect the future support readiness of Scholz.”
Scholz: Unbearable and unacceptable
Later, Chancellor Scholz rejected the Holocaust accusation against Israel by the Palestinian president in clear words. “Especially for us Germans, any comparison to the Holocaust is unbearable and unacceptable,” Scholz told Bild-Zeitung. He expressed similar words in a tweet:
Tweet from federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz:
“I am deeply outraged by the unspeakable words of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Especially for us Germans, any comparison to the Holocaust is unbearable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.”
Criticism also came from the Federal Government’s commissioner for anti-Semitism, Felix Klein. “Through his Holocaust comparison, President Abbas has shown a lack of sensitivity towards us, his German hosts,” Klein said to the Germany Editorial Network: “That especially applies in view of the question posed about the Olympics attack that was carried out by PLO-terrorists.”
The new German ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, criticized the Holocaust comparison by Abbas as false and unacceptable. “Germany will never tolerate any attempt to deny the uniqueness of the crimes of the Holocaust,” the former government spokesman wrote on Twitter.
Sharp criticism from the International Auschwitz Committee
The International Auschwitz Committee accused Abbas of deliberately using Berlin’s political stage to defame “German remembrance culture and relations with Israel.” Executive Vice President Christoph Heubner made a corresponding statement: “With his shameful and inappropriate Holocaust comparison, Abbas has again tried to serve anti-Semitic aggression in Germany and Europe.” Heubner also directed criticism at the federal government: “It is astounding and strange that the German side was not prepared, and Abbas’ provocations and statements about the Holocaust in the press conference remained uncontradicted.”
Angry reactions in Israel
Meanwhile, the Israeli government also sharply rejected the Holocaust comparison. That Abbas accused Israel of “committing 50 Holocausts while he was on German soil is not only a moral shame but also a monstrous lie,” explained the Israeli government head Jair Lapid. “History will never forgive him.”
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz condemned the statements of the Palestinian president as well. Whoever wants peace “should not distort the truth and re-write history,” the minister warned. The president of the Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem, Dani Dayan, condemned Abbas’s statements as “terrifying”. “The German government, in the Federal Chancellery, must directly react in appropriate ways to this inexcusable behavior,” Dayna demanded.