'Largely Exaggerated': A Look at How Palestinians View The Holocaust

© REUTERS / Baz RatnerStudents from Germany visit the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem's Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem
Students from Germany visit the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem's Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem  - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.04.2022
Although there is solid evidence that approximately six million Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945, Palestinians have long challenged the veracity of these events. Now, a Gaza-based historian says the Jewish people and Israel have been overstating the Holocaust for political advantage.
On Wednesday, Israel will mark its national Holocaust Remembrance Day, when it commemorates the six million Jewish victims who were murdered by the Nazis.
The main ceremony which starts at 20.00 local time, will take place at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem museum, otherwise known as the World Holocaust Remembrance Center which contains many proofs of Nazi atrocities.

Largely Exaggerated?

However, so far as Gaza-based historian Mohammed Hijazi is concerned, this evidence is simply not enough, and he says the Nazi atrocities have "largely been exaggerated by Jews".
"Of course, we cannot deny that Adolf Hitler was responsible for the Holocaust. But the truth is that the amount of people he killed stood at dozens of thousands. He didn't burn millions of them", Hijazi claims.
Hijazi's comments are hardly to be wondered at as Palestinian leaders over the years have voiced various opinions which are sceptical of what happened in the Holocaust.
In 1983, for example, Mahmoud Abbas, who now leads the Palestinian Authority, denied the Holocaust in his doctoral dissertation that was published as a book. Years later, in 2018, he made controversial remarks about the Holocaust, suggesting Jews were persecuted because of their financial activities, not their religion.
Hamas - an Islamic group that now rules the Gaza Strip - has also made similar statements and in the early 2000s it added rejection of the Holocaust to its charter.

"The general belief in the Arab world is that Jews used the Holocaust for political gain," explains Hijazi. "What they wanted to get was money from the western world. And they were also looking for sympathy from people that they used as a pretext to create Israel."

Is Israel Repeating Mistakes of the Past?

Although political Zionists such as Theodor Herzl (who died in 1904) made the case for a Jewish state to be created long before the Holocaust, the war and persecution of Jews gave added impetus to the cause. Hijazi says that he would have expected a state which was established as the result of unspeakable suffering would be more sensitive to others' needs but looking at the decades-long conflict with the Palestinians, this seems not to have been the case.

"Israel has carried out many atrocities against the Palestinians since 1948, when they occupied our land. They are claiming Hitler killed millions of their people. Why don't they look at their own deeds and ask themselves if they are doing something similar to the Palestinians?"

Palestinians have been claiming for a long time that they are the victims of Israeli aggression and, as proof, point to the Israeli West Bank barriero which they claim has turned their region into a local ghetto. They have also accused the Jewish state of illegally arresting Palestinians, of firing indiscriminately in the Gaza Strip and of illicit land grabs.

"Our attitude towards Israel and the Holocaust will not change," says Hijazi. "We know the truth from history books, and Israel should stop selling this lie and using it to cover up its own crimes against the Palestinian people".

Between 1933 and 1945 the Nazi regime and its collaborators persecuted and murdered some six million Jews across Europe and North Africa. Their property had been confiscated by local authorities. Denial of the Holocaust is illegal in several countries around the world.
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