BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has come under fire for his sluggish condemnation of remarks by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that downplayed the Holocaust.
Asked at a press conference Tuesday in the Chancellery in Berlin whether he was planning to apologize for and assist in a full investigation of the deadly 1972 Munich Olympics terrorist attack carried out by a Palestinian militant group, Abbas evaded the question, claiming instead that Israel had inflicted “50 holocausts” on Palestine since 1947.
“If we want to dig further into the past, yes, please, I have 50 massacres that were committed by Israel. Which were also recorded in documentaries … 50 massacres, 50 holocausts, and to this day every day we have dead people killed by the [Israeli Defense Forces], by the Israeli army,” Abbas said.
Scholz, who minutes before had rejected Abbas’ use of the term “apartheid” to describe Israel’s Palestine policy, looked displeased, but the press conference was terminated right after Abbas’ remark and the men shook hands before leaving the stage.
Later Tuesday, Scholz told tabloid Bild that “for us Germans in particular, any trivialization of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable,” but the damage of his nonresponse was already done.
“An unbelievable event in the Chancellery,” blasted Friedrich Merz, leader of the opposition Christian Democrats (CDU), on Tuesday evening. “The chancellor should have contradicted the Palestinian president in no uncertain terms and should have asked him to leave the house!”
“Scholz grimaces but is silent,” the Times of Israel wrote in a headline.
Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Tuesday night accused Abbas of “not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie” for making the comments “on German soil,” adding that “history will never forgive him,” given six millions Jews were killed in the Holocaust carried out by Nazi Germany.
On Wednesday morning Scholz tweeted his condemnation, echoing Lapid’s trenchant commentary.
“I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. For us Germans in particular, any trivialization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust,” he wrote.