by Rafael Medoff
The claim by Russia’s foreign minister that Hitler was secretly Jewish, and therefore Jews themselves are to blame for the Holocaust, may be the weirdest slur ever about the Nazi genocide.
But what makes it scary is that Sergey Lavrov is not the only one who has said it.
Foreign Minister Lavrov made his claim in the context of trying to prove that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky could be a Nazi even though he’s Jewish. “In my opinion, Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it doesn’t meant absolutely anything,” Lavrov babbled. “For some time we have heard from the Jewish people that the biggest antisemites were Jewish.”
Similar hogwash has been heard from, of all people, Harry Belafonte, the renowned entertainer. It happened during an August 2005 interview, in which Belafonte called President George W. Bush a racist. The interviewer asked about the fact that African-Americans held prominent positions in the Bush administration. Belafonte responded: “Hitler had a lot of Jews high up in the hierarchy of the Third Reich. Color does not necessarily denote quality, content, or value.”
Neither Lavrov nor Belafonte set out to rewrite the Holocaust. Their goal was to smear a particular political leader, and they chose to distort the Holocaust as a way of making their point.
The same cannot be said of Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority. For Abbas, revising the Holocaust is not an incidental point of some argument; it is precisely his intention. Abbas hopes that claiming the Jews caused the Holocaust will somehow undermine Israel.
In his 1983 PhD dissertation-turned-book, titled The Other Side: The Secret Relations Between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement, Abbas wrote that David Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders “collaborated with Hitler” and wanted the Nazis to kill Jews because “having more victims meant greater rights and stronger privilege to join the negotiating table for dividing the spoils of war once it was over.”
According to Abbas, the “real” number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust was “much lower” than six million and might well have been “below one million.” But that dastardly Ben-Gurion somehow managed to trick the entire world into believing a number 600% higher than the real death toll, the PA chairman insisted.
Asked about his Holocaust writings in a January 2013 interview with a Lebanese television station, Abbas replied: “I challenge anyone to deny the relationship between Zionism and Nazism before World War II.” He added that he has written “seventy more books that I still haven’t published,” which, he says, would prove his claims.
Although none of those books has been published, Abbas has continued to make the allegations in his speeches. Recall Abbas’s notorious April 2018 address, in which he said the Jews brought the Holocaust upon themselves by engaging in “usury and banking” practices that provoked their persecutors.
Similar assertions appear regularly in the newspapers, television programs and social media postings of the Palestinian Authority and its largest faction, the Fatah movement.
A columnist for the PA daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida wrote in 2015 that Zionist leaders in Europe during the Holocaust “increased the Jews’ suffering and abuse in order to take advantage of the world’s compassion for them.” A video on the Fatah website in 2019
declared that “the rich Jews” in Europe “traded in the blood of their own people, enjoying their weakness, and creating ties with those [Nazis] who burned them, in order to turn them into a tool of production and to accumulate wealth.” These are just two of many similar examples that Palestinian Media Watch has located.
When a Hollywood celebrity makes a ludicrous remark, it’s easy to shrug it off. After all, how much does it really matter if a singer or actor has some crackpot belief?
When the foreign minister of a major country spouts such lies, it’s much more troubling. However, if he’s the foreign minister of a regime that already regularly spreads all kinds of obvious lies for political purposes, it may not seem so significant that he has added one more idiotic falsehood to his repertoire.
The Holocaust lies told by Mahmoud Abbas, however, have serious potential consequences. He is seeking to harm Israel’s image, by portraying its founders as mass murderers, and he is trying to persuade the masses of Palestinian Arabs that Israel is an evil entity that deserves to be eradicated.
So while Russia’s foreign minister richly deserves the condemnations that have rained down upon him for profaning the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, it is important to bear in mind that the comment by Sergey Lavrov is only the latest manifestation of a bigger and more serious problem.