Abbas scandal: anti  Semitism official Felix Klein defends Scholz

Abbas scandal: anti Semitism official Felix Klein defends Scholz

Updated on 8/18/2022 at 11:05 am

  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has caused international outrage with his comparison to the Holocaust.
  • Chancellor Scholz is also criticized. Anti-Semitism officer Felix Klein protects him.
  • “The chancellor’s position on Israel and also on Israel-related anti-Semitism is very clear,” Klein said.
  • Even so, the discussion about the chancellor’s reaction to Abbas’ testimony continues.

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After the Holocaust scandal surrounding Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the German government’s anti-Semitism commissioner Felix Klein defended Chancellor Olaf Scholz against criticism. “I think it was mainly a communication problem between the chancellor and his government spokesman,” he said Wednesday night on the ARD’s “Tagesthemen”. “The Chancellor’s position on Israel and also on Israel-related anti-Semitism is very clear.” He believes the chancellor is on solid ground here.

Scholz did not contradict Abbas at a joint press conference in Berlin on Tuesday, when he accused Israel of multiple “holocausts” against the Palestinians, but only reacted later. The Union, among others, had harshly criticized this.

The government spokesperson assumes responsibility

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned Abbas’ statements. “The comparison made yesterday by President Abbas in relation to Israel is completely unacceptable and particularly painful because it was made in our country’s capital,” the German head of state told the Bild newspaper on Wednesday. Germany recognizes its historic responsibility and is firmly on Israel’s side.

Abbas said in the appearance with Scholz: “From 1947 to the present day, Israel has committed 50 massacres in 50 Palestinian sites.” He added: “50 massacres, 50 holocausts.” The chancellor only distanced himself from the statements after the press conference. He told the Bild newspaper: “Especially for us Germans, any relativization of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable.” German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit later claimed responsibility for the criticized process: he ended the Scholz and Abbas press conference too quickly. In a phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Jair Lapid on Thursday, Scholz wants to avoid further irritation.

FDP Secretary General Bijan Djir-Sarai considers Abbas’ comparison to the Holocaust counterproductive for the Middle East peace process. “It is once again clear that no progress can be expected in the peace process with this generation of Palestinian politicians. Abbas has not done the Palestinians any favors with his appearance in Berlin,” he told the Rheinische Post (Thursday). “Making distasteful and historically incorrect statements about the Holocaust in Germany of all places represents a tremendous provocation.”

Felix Klein: “Don’t let the conversation end”

Anti-Semitism Commissioner Klein has spoken out in favor of continuing the conversation with Abbas despite the scandal. “President Abbas has repeatedly attracted attention with oral and written statements about Israel,” he told ARD. “On the other hand, he is the representative of the Palestinian community and you have to deal with him now.” He hopes the Palestinian side will also know that such statements are unacceptable in Germany.

Earlier, Lea Rosh, chairwoman of the support group for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, had questioned aid funds for the Palestinian Authority. Abbas’ “outrageous statement” must have consequences. According to the German Development Ministry, Germany is one of the biggest donors in the Palestinian territories. So far, the Federal Republic has committed more than 1.2 billion euros to bilateral development cooperation.

Abbas has already tried to defuse outrage over his controversial statements about the Holocaust. In Berlin, he did not want to question the uniqueness of the Holocaust, he said, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.

CDU resists criticism

The CDU continued its criticism of the chancellor’s appearance. The deputy chairman of the German-Israeli parliamentary group, Gitta Connemann, demanded an apology from Scholz. It was scandalous that the chancellor was silent after Abbas’ statements “and then shook hands with Abbas”, she told the newspapers of the Funke media group (Thursday). The chancellor’s silence harms Germany in terms of foreign policy, “in the first place in relation to Israel”. The chancellor must limit the damage and explain himself. “And he has to apologize,” said the CDU politician.

Auschwitz Committee: Scholz was insufficiently prepared

Scholz received support from the ranks of the Greens. Lamya Kaddor, a member of the Bundestag, also accused the chancellor of making mistakes, but rejected the far-reaching accusations against him. It was “absolutely inappropriate” to want to gain political capital from Scholz’s behavior, as the CDU is trying to do.

The International Auschwitz Committee complained that Scholz had insufficiently prepared “for the expected provocations” by Abbas. “It is also a mistake by the chancellor and an attempt to increase pressure against the federal government and against Olaf Scholz,” executive vice president Christoph Heubner told the newspapers of the Funke media group (Thursday). (dpa/fab)

Olaf Scholz

Updated on 08/17/2022 at 08:00

In a press conference with Olaf Scholz, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accuses Israel of several “holocausts”. The chancellor reacted with indignation but did not directly contradict his guest when they appeared together. (Photo credit: picture Alliance / photothek / Janine Schmitz)