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GERMANY AND PALESTINE

Germany’s Scholz ‘disgusted’ by Palestine president’s Holocaust claim

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday voiced "disgust" at statements by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Berlin on the Holocaust, amid a growing outcry in Germany and Israel.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Mahmoud Abbas
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Mahmoud Abbas hold a press conference in Berlin on August 16th, 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

At a joint press conference with Scholz on Tuesday, Abbas, 87, was asked if he would apologise on behalf of the Palestinian gunmen who carried out the Munich Olympics hostage-taking in 1972 that ended with 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed.

Abbas did not give a direct reply but instead compared it to the situation in the Palestinian territories, and accused Israel of committing “50 massacres, 50 Holocausts” against Palestinians since 1947.

“I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmud #Abbas,” Scholz wrote on Twitter.

“For us Germans in particular, any relativisation of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.”

Scholz himself also drew fire for failing to immediately condemn Abbas’ remarks at the press conference, which ended following the Palestinian leader’s statements.

“One would have liked (Scholz’s) clarification to be more immediate,” wrote Spiegel magazine.

READ ALSO: German art show slammed over anti-Semitic images

Christoph Heubner, executive vice president of the International Auschwitz Committee said he found it “astonishing and disconcerting that the German side was not prepared for Abbas’ provocations, and that his statements on the Holocaust were left unchallenged at the press conference.”

In comparison, Scholz had directly contradicted Abbas when he used the word “apartheid” while describing the treatment of Palestinians by Israel.

The German leader replied directly that he wanted to “say clearly that he won’t use the word apartheid” and that he did “not think that is correct to use the term to describe the situation”.

In Jerusalem, Abbas’ remarks drew a hail of condemnation.

‘Monstrous lie’

“Mahmud Abbas accusing Israel of having committed ’50 Holocausts’ while standing on German soil is not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie,” wrote Lapid on Twitter.

“Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, including one and a half million Jewish children. History will never forgive him.”

Defence Minister Benny Gantz called the Palestinian leader’s remarks as “an attempt to distort and rewrite history”.

Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan described Abbas’ words as “appalling”.

He added that the German government “must respond appropriately to this inexcusable behaviour done inside the Federal Chancellery”.

Charlotte Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor and leader of the Jewish community of Munich and its region, said Abbas’ statements must be met with more than a verbal rebuff from Scholz.

“German politicians must know who their partners in the Palestinian Authority are and act accordingly. The clear words of the German chancellor afterwards should not be the only consequence.”

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ANTI-SEMITISM

Police deployed at German synagogue after bullet holes found

German police staged a major deployment at a synagogue in the western city of Essen on Friday after several bullet holes were found in the adjacent former rabbi's residence.

Police deployed at German synagogue after bullet holes found

Police said “four shots were fired from a loaded weapon” into the exterior of the home next to the city’s Old Synagogue but that no one was injured.

Officers were inspecting the site with sniffer dogs for any explosives.

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said he was “shocked by this latest attack on Jewish life in Germany”.

“Anti-Semitism must have no place. It is our duty to protect Jewish life,” he tweeted.

Media reports said the shots were fired overnight and reported on Friday morning. They targeted a glass door at the entryway of the residence and two bullets pierced the glass.

State interior minister Herbert Reul told local media that the alleged assailant, a man, had been captured on a security camera but was still at large.

The incident came three years after a gunman killed two people in the eastern city of Halle after failing to storm a synagogue on Yom Kippur.

Before the attack, he had posted a racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic manifesto online.

Germany in May reported a new record in the number of politically motivated crimes last year, including a nearly 29-percent jump in anti-Semitic crimes to 3,027.

Seven decades after the Holocaust in which the Nazi regime slaughtered six million Jews, the vast majority of the offences — 2,552 — were attributed to the far-right scene.

Essen’s Old Synagogue was built in the early 20th century but its interior was largely destroyed by the Nazis in the November 1938 pogrom.

It underwent a thorough restoration and reopened as an expanded Jewish Culture House for interfaith dialogue in 2010.

READ ALSO: ‘We will fight for our Germany’: Holocaust survivor issues warning to far right

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