American Jewish leaders are scheduled to meet this Thursday with Pope Benedict XVI to discuss the recent controversy produced by the Pope’s January 24 decision to rescind the 1988 excommunication of a bishop who denies the Holocaust. Yet American Jewish leaders continue to remain silent about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas own extensive and prominent Holocaust denial.
The bishop, Richard Williamson, has claimed that only a few hundred thousand Jews were killed in the Nazi genocide, not the six million recorded in archives from the period. Williamson claimed that Jews invented a holocaust myth in order to silence critics of Israel. In a 1989 speech at Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes church in Sherbrooke, Canada, Williamson said, “There was not one Jew killed in the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies
the Jews created the Holocaust so we would prostrate ourselves on our knees before them and approve of their new State of Israel… Jews made up the Holocaust, Protestants get their orders from the devil, and the Vatican has sold its soul to liberalism.”
Recently, Williamson told a Swedish television station in January that there were no gas chambers in the Nazi death camps. The American Jewish leaders are seeking some sanction from the Vatican on those within its ranks who deny the Holocaust. (Haviv Rettig Gur, ‘Pope to meet with umbrella group of US Jewry,’ Jerusalem Post, February 10, 2009) And yesterday, Williamson told the German publication Die Spiegel, I will not travel to Auschwitz.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “There is great irony in this meeting. On the one hand, American Jewish leaders, very properly, have gone to the Vatican to discuss widespread Jewish concern with the welcoming back into the fold a Holocaust denying Catholic bishop and thereby restoring his respectability in the church and beyond. It is indeed appalling that a bishop who denies the Holocaust and who accuses Jews of foisting a Holocaust myth on the world in order to curtail criticism of Israel is welcomed by the Pope back into the Church. On the other hand, day in and day out, American Jewish leaders praise Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas as a moderate peace-maker and raise not a word about his record of Holocaust denial, which amounted to writing a doctoral thesis on the subject, subsequently published as a book in 1982, which had a picture of a swatstika and a Jewish star on the cover. As the child of Holocaust survivors, born in a Displaced Persons Camp in Germany after the War, I find this evasion and inconsistency especially painful.
“In Abbas’ book, The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism, Abbas repudiated what he called “the Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed.” Instead, Abbas fixated on a fictional connection between the Nazis and the Zionists, and claimed only some 890,000 Jews were killed by Hitler and that these were chiefly the victims of a Zionist-Nazi plot.
“Holocaust deniers are not mistaken or ignorant, they are malicious and filled with hate. Truth is not for them the issue. Rather, the issue is that they all have enmity towards Jews who seek at least one thing: the Holocaust deniers want to deprive Jews and Israel of all sympathy and support arising from the Holocaust.
“Evil falsehoods like Holocaust denial must be opposed by whoever utters them, not only when it uttered by some but not by others. It is especially important that it be denounced when uttered by prominent political, religious or academic figures. It is untenable to insist rightly that Holocaust denial is unacceptable in a Catholic bishop and must be placed high on the Jewish community’s agenda during any discussion with the Vatican, while ignoring Holocaust denial by Mahmoud Abbas. The ZOA has pointed out this glaring and disturbing fact for years but it has never been an item on the agenda of American Jewry in dealing with Abbas. In fact, ZOA took out full-page ads in the New York Times and elsewhere exposing Abbas Holocaust denial and were shocked to find that some prominent Jewish leaders refused to sign it although many others did. This neglect makes the Jewish community’s position inconsistent, trivializes the Holocaust and gives a Holocaust denier like Abbas a free pass to promote his unwarranted reputation as a moderate.”