So: The chancellor has a visitor. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is there. PLO chief for 17 years, chief of much of the Middle East territory. The 87-year-old provoked a scandal at the press conference. But that doesn’t happen – because Scholz, who is standing next to Abbas, is silent.
In the press conference, when asked about the Munich Olympics attack 50 years ago, Abbas says: Since 1947 to the present day, Israel has committed “50 massacres in 50 Palestinian villages and towns, 50 massacres, 50 holocausts”. It’s anti-Semitic, it’s trivializing about the Holocaust, and it relativizes the Nazis’ systematic mass murder of more than six million Jews. And remains unchallenged.
As the? Such a sentence in the chancellery, never heard there before – and the chancellor is silent?
Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit closes the press conference, thanks you for being there, wishes you a safe journey home – and Scholz follows. Puts down his headphones with a grumpy look. If Abbas shake hands, go. Without another word.
The distancing comes later, at the request of “Bild”. Not previously. That’s how long the relativization of the Holocaust has been in the air.
A government spokeswoman then said about the incident: “Before the chancellor could contradict this outrageous sentence, the government spokesman had already moderated the press conference – as usual after the last question/answer block – which visibly annoyed Scholz. The government spokesman then told the journalists who were still present, who could not help noticing the Chancellor’s annoyance, how outraged the Chancellor was about the statement and also that he had not had the opportunity to openly contradict one more time.”
An affront – to the government spokesman. Should it have been now? Yes, later the chancellor declared: “Especially for us Germans, any relativization of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable.” Too late. Abbas is already gone. He did not hear these words, not when he was a guest in the Chancellery.
Scholz and Abbas – the chancellor should have reacted at that moment. Instead continue with the program. He automatically shakes hands with Abbas! His reaction: only with a time delay, not prudently.
What Abbas should have heard: There is no genocide committed by Israel against the Palestinians. The fact that its aging president equates armed conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis in villages and towns with the systematic murder of millions of Jews is untenable, incomprehensible. What a provocation. In Berlin.
The incident will have a long lasting effect. Because it is, as the Christian Democrat Armin Laschet says, who ran against Scholz as chancellor candidate: “The PLO leader would have won sympathy if he had apologized for the terrorist attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Accusing Israel of ‘50 Holocausts’ instead is the most disgusting speech ever heard in the Federal Chancellery.”