Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Hitler's Motives

Attacked, strangely, not for what he got wrong but for what he got right.
Published: 2023-09-25

The Israeli anti-Palestinian propaganda-site MEMRI offers a redacted video of a presentation given by the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmound Abbas, wherein he made some controversial points about history – points that are uncomfortable especially for Zionist Jews. This aired on Palestine TV on 3 September 2023 (according to MEMRI). Some of the points are more defensible than others.

Abbas’ points, as presented by MEMRI, were:

  1. Ashkenazi Jews are not of Levantine or Semitic ancestry (and therefore, by implication, are not the people of the Bible and cannot legitimately claim a right to “return” to the Levant).
  2. Jews were not persecuted in Europe simply for being Jews (racially or religiously), but for their behavior, especially their “social role.”
  3. Britain and the USA together agreed on the Balfour Declaration and supported Zionism so that both governments should be regarded as enemies of the Palestinian people.
  4. The State of Israel used false-flag terrorism to drive Jews out of Iraq and other mostly Muslim societies of western Asia and northern Africa, so that they would settle in the Jewish State.


I shall address these out of order, with the second proposition, about the Holocaust, coming last. This happens to be the one point for which Abbas has been heavily criticized.


The fourth proposition seems to be true. Israeli historian Avi Shlaim has written about Israel false-flag terrorism intended to drive Jews from Iraq in the early 1950s.


The third proposition certainly has some truth in it too. The British government asked President Woodrow Wilson about the advisability of issuing the Balfour Declaration, which would declare British support for Zionism. In September 1917, Wilson advised against it, but when asked again in October 1917, for some reason he had changed his mind. Wilson had some important Zionist Jews around him (like Samuel Untermyer) who may have influenced him to change his mind.


The first proposition, the claim that Ashkenazi Jews are all descended from converted Khazars, seems to be very popular with anti-Zionists, and especially with people whose religion induces them to place Jews on a pedestal. It is a convenient way to conclude that Ashkenazi Jews are not real Jews. This is however, by far, the weakest part of what President Abbas says, because the truth is more complicated.

Abbas however launches straight from his enunciation of the Khazar Hypothesis into a discussion of Hitler’s Jewish policy, as if the Khazar Hypothesis meant that Hitler's policy could not have been racially motivated. Abbas does not ask whether Hitler and the NSDAP believed with him that Ashkenazim were not “Semites.”

A brief statement of the NSDAP’s view of Jewish origins appears in Hansjörg Männel’s Politische Fibel. Männel was the director of Gauführerschule II in Saxony, and his booklet was essentially a set of lecture-notes for doctrinal instruction of the NSDAP's minor officials and spokesmen. Regarding Jews, the NSDAP’s doctrine in 1934, influenced by the findings of contemporary physical anthropology, differs somewhat from what Adolf Hitler wrote in 1925, when he referred to Jews as a race.

"Die Juden sind ein Volk, keine Rasse. Als Rasse werden sie oft bezeichnet, um ihre Andersartigkeit zu betonen. Sie sind ein uns Deutschen völlig fremdes Volk mit gänzlich andersartiger rassischer Zusammensetzung. Die rassischen Hauptbestandteile des Judentums sind die vorderasiatische (Judennase) und die orientalische Rasse. Im Laufe ihrer Geschichte haben sie sich mit fast allen anderen Rassen der Welt vermischt. (Hansjörg Männel, Politsche Fibel (1934) 41-42)


“The Jews are a people, not a race. They are often called a race in order to emphasize their distinctness. They are a people completely alien to us Germans, with an entirely different racial composition. The chief racial components of Jewry are the Armenoid (hence the Jewish nose) and Orientalid races. In the course of their history they have become mixed with almost all other races of the world.”

Thus, according to the NSDAP’s doctrine, (European) Jews were partly but not entirely (as Abbas would say) of “Semitic” (i.e. Orientalid) origin.  

Significantly, Männel makes no reference to a Turkic origin.

The legend of Khazar mass-conversion is 1200 years old, but there is abundant reason to believe that  Ashkenazi Jews are not those converted Khazars. In addition to the decades-old observations of physical anthropology, there is strong linguistic evidence (the paucity of Turkic vocabulary in Yiddish), but today the evidence of DNA is decisive.

Professor Kevin MacDonald, who is certainly not averse to criticizing Jews or Zionism but has closely followed the findings about Jewish ancestry in his capacity as an evolutionary psychologist, summarizes:

“I’ve never seen any evidence for the Khazar theory of Ashkenazi origins, except one debunked population genetic study. There is a basic genetic unity among widely dispersed Jewish groups.” (Kevin MacDonald, 27 March 2022)

That is true as a very basic statement of the matter – but complexity is not lacking. In addition to the “basic genetic unity” among Jewish populations, there is always admixture too. The admixture in Ashkenazi Jews happens to be quite large -- but it is not from Khazars. Science-journalist Jon Entine summarizes the scientific consensus:

“The consensus research holds that most Ashkenazi Jews … share common paternal haplotypes also found among many Arabs from Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. Only a small percentage of the Y-DNA of Ashkenazi Jews—less than 25 percent—originated outside of the Near East, presumably as converts.

“Duke University’s David Goldstein and Mark Thomas of the Center for Genetic Anthropology in London reported in 2002 that much of the mitochondrial DNA of women in Jewish communities around the world that they examined did not seem to be of Middle or Near Eastern origin…. This suggested that migrating Jewish men might have taken on local wives, who converted to Judaism.


“[ Professor Martin Richards and his team at the University of Huddersfield’s Archaeogenetics Research Group] claim that [Ashkenazi] maternal lineages did not originate in the Near or Middle East or the Khazarian Caucasus but rather, for the most part, within Mediterranean Europe. Another twist in the findings: Jewish women may have been assimilated in Europe as far back as 2,000 years ago—earlier than most other studies have projected. The researchers believe the DNA could trace back to the early Roman Empire, when as much as 10 percent of the population practiced Judaism, many of them converts. Overall, they claim, at least 80 percent of Ashkenazi maternal ancestry comes from women indigenous to Europe while 8 percent originated in the Near East, with the rest uncertain.” (Jon Entine, 8 October 2013)

So, 92% of Ashkenazi maternal lineage does not trace to the Levant, but at least 75% of the paternal line does. This is not the kind of simplicity that would be most convenient for anti-Zionist rhetoric, but if, without mentioning Khazars (the point of error), Mahmoud Abbas said that the ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews was from places other than Arabia or the Levant, he would be more than half-right.

For Palestinians, an especially bright spot in DNA-research might be the finding, noted by Jon Entine, that the kind of Y-DNA found in Ashkenazi Jews -- the main basis for an hereditary “right of return,” if it is a matter of some supposedly unique ancestry -- is found also in many Arabs from Palestine, Lebanon and Syria.

What about those allegedly converted Khazars? Where did they go? There is some dispute about whether this mass-conversion even happened, since the sources referring to it are very distant from Khazaria, whereas Byzantium, which was very near, strangely offers no testimony. According to the Universal Jewish Encyclopaedia (1942 edition), many Khazars became assimilated as Magyars and thus became part of the founding stock of Hungary -- subsequently becoming Christians. Also, the few thousand Karaites of Crimea are sometimes said to be descended from converted Khazars. The Karaite religion however is a different kind of Judaism: it is based on the Old Testament but rejects the Talmud. It seems that these Jehovah-worshippers are ethnically unlike the Jews, because, after the few Karaites in Germany petitioned for exemption from anti-Jewish laws, the Reich Office for Genealogical Research declared in 1939 that they were not Jews (D. Green, Ha’aretz 5 January 2015).

So, there just might be some descendants of converted Khazars in eastern Europe practicing something related to Judaism, but Ashkenazi Jews do not appear to be that group.


After proclaiming the Khazar Hypothesis of Ashkenazi origins, Abbas says:

“They say that Hitler killed the Jews for being Jews, and that Europe hated the Jews because they were Jews. Not true. It was clearly explained that [it was] because of their social role, and not their religion…. The Europeans fought against these people because of their role in society, which had to do with usury, money, and so on and so forth. Even Hitler— everybody knows that during the First World War Hitler was a sergeant* -- he said that he fought the Jews because they were dealing with usury and money. In his view, they were engaged in sabotage, and this is why he hated them. We just want to make this one point clear: this was not about Semitism and anti-Semitism.” (Mahmoud Abbas, 3 September 2023, via MEMRI)

In the reaction to this, Abbas is simultaneously accused of justifying the Holocaust and denying the Holocaust. The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, revoking an award bestowed upon Abbas by her city, makes both accusations (Times of Israel, 8 September 2023). Abbas did once long ago, in a 1982 doctoral dissertation, dispute the “six million” (which is far short of simply “denying” the alleged crime), but in fact he avoided such controversies in this talk.

Whether Abbas “justified” the Holocaust depends on the answers to two questions: what exactly he thinks happened, and whether he regards it as a proportional and permissible punishment. Even in the United States it has always been a widespread opinion that the supposed gassing of Europe's Jews was a disproportionate and immoral reaction to real Jewish offenses. (E. Michael Jones for example used to say this.) It is, therefore, a gigantic leap of logic from (1) Abbas says that Jews caused trouble to (2) Abbas says that all Jews should have been killed -- but Holocaustian hysteria routinely takes such leaps.

Especially dismaying has been the reaction of the Palestinian diaspora, which seems to have learned to keep its criticisms of Zionist power within boundaries that do not include any utterance that could be called “anti-Semitism” or “Holocaust Denial.” Because Abbas is alleged to have committed these sins, a Palestinian-American female legal scholar, Noura Erakat, drafted a public declaration denouncing him, to which many luminaries of the Palestinian diaspora sadly gave their support.

What about the factuality of what the Palestinian president said? Has Mahmoud Abbas correctly represented the basis for the treatment of Jews under Hitler’s government?

One may discover the concerns that led to Hitler’s Jewish policy in Mein Kampf.

According to Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler acquired his first general observations about Jews when, as a teenager, he went to live in Vienna. He was already somewhat averse to non-Germans in general, because he saw ethnic Germans being eclipsed by other populations in the Habsburg Empire. Previously however he had no negative opinion of Jews, regarding them as Germans of a different religion, and he viewed religious discrimination as backward. In Vienna, for the first time, he saw Jews not only as non-German but as a population that was especially hostile toward Germans.

Influenced by the Mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger, and the publications of his Christian Social Party, and also by encounters with some very un-German-looking Jews in Vienna, and finally by the advent of Zionism – Jewish nationalism – young Adolf Hitler arrived at the view that Jews were not Germans but rather a separate people (Mein Kampf, ed. 1943, 60).

His regard for the Jews then sank very low when he became familiar with “their activity in the press, in art, literature, and theater” Through these media, Jews infected the people with “spiritual pestilence worse than the black death” (61-62). The Jewish-controlled press, he noticed, was liberal and anti-German.

By the age of 20 he had noticed that trade unions, instead of constructively representing the interests of workers, were abused as instruments of class-conflict. Later he saw that the trade unions had taken this direction because they were under Jewish control.

Then he saw that the leaders of Austria’s Social-Democratic Party ( Austerlitz, David, Adler, Ellenbogen) were Jews.

Nun aber erst lernte ich den Verführer unseres Volkes ganz kennen.” (66)

“Now however I became acquainted with the seducer of our people.”

He summarizes his experience of engaging Jews in rational political discussion, and the futility of the attempt:

“Ich war damals noch kindlich genug, ihnen den Wahnsinn ihrer Lehre klarmachen zu wollen…. Je mehr ich dann so mit ihnen stritt, um so mehr lernte ich ihre Dialektik zu kennen…. Man wusste nicht, was man mehr bestaunen sollte, ihre Zungenfertigkeit oder ihre Kunst der Lüge. Ich begann sie allmählich zu hassen.” (66-67)

“I was back then still childlike enough to want to explain to them the madness of their doctrine…. The more I argued with them, the more I became acquainted with their dialectic…. One knew not, at what to be more amazed, their eloquence or their skill at lying. Gradually I began to hate them.”

Primarily experiences in Vienna, then, made Hitler aware that Jews as a group were opponents of German nationalism who could not be won over in civil discussion.

Hitler then emigrated to Munich. When the First World War began, he volunteered to serve in the Bavarian Army. Events in Germany during the war would lead Hitler to elaborate his critique of the Jews.

The German people in general of course had not seen what Hitler saw in Vienna. Hitler consequently was wary of Jewish manipulation in ways that most Germans at that time were not, and noticed things that most Germans did not.

Hitler says that the liberal and the Marxist press in Germany were controlled mainly by Jews. Several times he calls the Jews Drahtzieher (wire-pullers), of politics and of revolution. The press that was “slowly corrupting the nation” was “chiefly of Jewish origin.” (266)

Despite the machinery of influence that Jews wielded, war rekindled German nationalism and put Germany’s anti-nationalist Marxist Jews in a difficult spot. The (Jewish) Marxist leaders, however, adapted, outwardly conforming to the patriotic Zeitgeist.

In a crucial blunder, the Kaiser tried to conciliate those “assassins of the nation” (186).  The notorious “stab in the back” followed. In various ways, Jews made efforts to cause Germany to lose the war. In early 1918, after Russia had surrendered, Germany finally could focus all her energy in the west, and the prospect for German victory was looking good. Then came a series of strikes, beginning with a munitions strike in January 1918, and in November 1918 came the revolution. Hitler observed that rebellious sailors were led by a few Judenjungen who, he somehow determined, had not even been to the front. Jews seemed to lead all efforts to cause Germany’s defeat.

Not until a few weeks after the loss of the First World War, at the end of 1918 and beginning of 1919, did Hitler see “something like anti-Semitism” (etwas wie Antisemitismus) beginning to take hold among the people of Germany (628).

Hitler does not specifically say it, but this anti-Jewish awakening coincided with the renewed activism of Communist Jews Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht (following their releases from prison), their founding of the Communist Party of Germany on 1 January 2019, and the subsequent Spartacist Uprising, an attempt to establish Communism in Germany with Soviet support. After the deaths of Luxemburg and Liebknecht, also in January, their successor as leader of the KPD was Paul Levi (from a prosperous Jewish merchant family of southern Germany). Levi sent Eugen Leviné (scion of a prosperous Jewish merchant family of Russia) to establish a Soviet republic in Bavaria, which (faced with the Reichswehr and Freikorps, as well as popular resistance) lasted less than one month, in April and May 1919. The Jewishness of Bolshevism was at that time a widespread observation, famously stated by Winston Churchill among others. Writing in 1925, Hitler could feel that it was practically self-evident when he wrote that Jews had bolshevized Russia and then aimed to do the same to Germany.

Hitler however saw Jewish Marxism as part of a larger picture. He saw Jewish Marxist agitation and Jewish international finance, both supported by Jewish-controlled mass-media, as forces leading ultimately in the same direction, toward destruction of national sovereignties and establishment of Jewish global rule.

He seems to infer that this was a conscious conspiracy – which seems very possibly incorrect, given the conflicts even among various Jewish Marxist factions -- but that is not an essential point, since it is natural that movements springing from the same religious, cultural, and ethnic background would procede from some of the same premises and thus act to some degree synergetically, even without planning.

Ultimately, however, Adolf Hitler concluded that Jewish international finance was the main enemy, with Marxism as its servant. The ultimate goal of Marxism, he says, is to create a despotism of international finance-Jewry (505). Marxism used labor unions to destroy national industries and business, so as to create international dependence and subjugation to global finance-Jewry. The most important point in the struggle for German national sovereignty, Hitler says, is the fight against international finance and lending (233).

Apart from the inference of a covert relationship between Jewish finance and Jewish Marxism, Adolf Hitler’s objection to the Jewish presence in Germany was based on observations. It is true that generalizations based on heredity (“anti-Semitism,” although the word is a notorious misnomer) were used to create a framework for understanding these observations, but the observations of Jewish behavior were prior, and the contemplation of Jewish heredity as a cause of this behavior came later. Hitler’s anti-Jewish policy then was not simply a persecution of Jews for being Jews – as Abbas says, fundamentally not a persecution on racial or religious grounds -- but came as a reaction to the observation that Jews in various ways endangered the future of the German nation.

In fact the policy of Hitler’s government changed in accord with the level of danger that the Jews posed. Before the Second World War, the clear policy of Hitler’s government was, in the short term, to minimize Jewish influence in Germany, and, for the long term, to promote Jewish emigration.

Under the 1935 Nuremberg Laws the “social role” of Jews in Germany was sharply curtailed. No more Jewish involvement in politics. No more Jewish control of mass-media. No more Jewish usury. No more Jewish domination of important professions. The important influences in German society were to be in the hands of ethnic Germans. This was carried farther in 1938 with aryanization of Jewish businesses, after a German diplomat in Paris was murdered by a young Jew.

Already in 1933 the Haavará Agreement reflected the desire of Hitler’s government to have Germany’s Jews go live elsewhere, by facilitating their emigration to Palestine. Then the Rublee-Wohlthat Agreement in early 1939 facilitated emigration to other destinations.

In peacetime, a gradual solution to the Jewish Problem seemed sufficient, but then the war created new, urgent concerns about Jews, based on memories of the First World War. Because of those concerns, Heinrich Himmler justified the rounding up and internment of Jews in 1943 as follows:

“Denn wir wissen, wie schwer wir uns täten, wenn wir heute noch in jeder Stadt bei den Bombenangriffen, bei den Lasten des Krieges und bei den Entbehrungen, wenn wir da noch die Juden als geheime Saboteure, Agitatoren, und Hetzer hätten. Wir würden wahrscheinlich in das Stadium des Jahres 16-17 jetzt gekommen sein, wenn die Juden noch im deutschen Volkskörper sässen.” (Heinrich Himmler, 4 October 1943)

“That is because we know what a hard time we would be having if we still had in every city today -- along with the bombing raids, the hardships of war, and the shortages --if we still had there the Jews as hidden saboteurs, agitators, and troublemakers. We would likely have arrived at the situation of 1916-1917 by now, if the Jews still remained in the body of the German people.”

Thus, whatever was being done to Jews at that stage of the war (internment and forced labor, in fact) was not merely a response to the Jews’ “social role” as Abbas said. It was rather part of Germany’s desperate struggle to avoid being conquered. Accordingly, internment of Jews became more urgent in the late stages of the war, as the battlefronts approached Jewish population-centers (especially in Hungary) and the likelihood of Jews attempting to assist enemy armies increased. (A similar concern motivated the US government’s relocation of ethnic Japanese away from the west coast.)

Mahmoud Abbas, then, is essentially correct when he says that action against Jews by Hitler’s government was neither because of their religion nor because they were Semites ("not about Semitism and anti-Semitism," as Abbas would define those terms). It was because they were a hostile population and Germany’s survival, especially during the war, required curtailing the possibilities for expression of that hostility.


In this recent presentation Abbas has merely scratched the surface of what is wrong with Jewish accounts of what they experienced in Europe. He says, “They say that Hitler killed the Jews because …” and disputes only the pretense that Jews had committed no provocations.

He could do more. In 1993 Abbas wrote a dissertation stating that the Jewish death-toll during the Second World War was likely greatly exaggerated. In 2022 he accused the State of Israel of perpetrating “fifty Holocausts,” which seems to presuppose that the Holocaust is not nearly as big an event as usually portrayed.

What seems certain is that any point of dispute that Mahmoud Abbas raises about the Holocaust will become a topic of discussion worldwide.

It would be nice if Abbas, speaking from his bully pulpit as President of the Palestinian Authority, addressed the roots of Zionist power in a more effective way. To say that Jews did some bad things is to say what many always assumed anyway. A widespread attitude has been: Yes, Jews do some bad things – Communism and all that -- but you can’t just throw them into gas-chambers! It would be much more lethal to the Zionist cause to expose the falsity of the Holocaust itself, and to make that a topic of discussion. Any sympathy that Zionism may still receive based on that fable will turn into resentment, to the extent that people stop believing it.


*In fact, Hitler turned down a promotion to sergeant.

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Author(s): Hadding Scott
Title: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Hitler's Motives, Attacked, strangely, not for what he got wrong but for what he got right.
Published: 2023-09-25
First posted on CODOH: Sept. 25, 2023, 5:10 p.m.
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