AP chief European Jews chose to die during the Holocaust instead of emigrating to Palestine and Ben Gurion forced Middle Eastern Jews to come to Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hinted Sunday night that European Jews during the Holocaust preferred to suffer "killings and massacres" to emigration to British-mandated Palestine, and claimed that Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion had brought Jews from Yemen and Iraq into the country against their will.
The Palestinian leader then said that the state of Israel "was formed as a colonial project having nothing to do with Judaism" to safeguard European interests.
The PA chief made a mini-lecture on his understanding of the history of Zionism on Sunday, claiming that the Jewish state deliberately created turmoil in the Arab countries to force Middle Eastern Jews into the nascent state to the then sparse population.
Abbas, in his speech, did not mention the historical presence of the Jews and the periods of Jewish sovereignty in the Holy Land. Israel is the only place where the Jews were sovereign and the only one where they sought sovereignty.
These remarks were made at the beginning of a speech by the Palestinian leader that lasted two and a half hours at a meeting of the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Ramallah, which was largely devoted to the reaction to the decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Speaking on the speech, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Monday that Abbas had "lost his mind".
"Colonialism created Israel to fulfill a certain function. It is a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism, but rather used the Jews as tools under the slogan of the Holy Land, "said Abbas, who added that he quoted the work of the Egyptian intellectual Abdel-Wahab El-Messiri. El-Messiri wrote an encyclopedia of Jews, Judaism and Zionism in eight volumes.
Once the state of Israel was created, Abbas maintained, Israeli leaders kept pushing Jews to immigrate to the country.
The Palestinian leader suggested that European Jews - six million of whom were killed by the Nazis - chose to stay in the countries they came from during the Holocaust rather than emigrate.
"The Jews did not want to emigrate, even with the killings and the massacres. Even during the Holocaust, they did not emigrate. In 1948, Jews in Palestine were no more than 640,000, the majority of them from Europe, "he added.
In fact, from 1939 to 1945, the British authorities of Mandatory Palestine had prevented almost all Jewish immigration to Palestine by order of the Arab States.
In order to fill the nascent Jewish state, Abbas continued, Ben Gurion has, with bad grace, begun to force Jews from Arab lands into Israel.
"Ben Gurion did not want Jews from the Middle East to come [to Israel] ... but when they saw these vast lands, he was forced to bring in Middle Eastern Jews ... who did not want to come. From Yemen, they brought 50,000 Jews ... But 50,000 Jews were not enough. So they went to Iraq that had significant Jewish reserves, "said Abbas.
About 49,000 Yemeni Jews were brought into the nascent state of Israel during Operation Flying Carpet in the years 1949 and 1950.
Abbas claimed that the Israelis had broken agreements with Iraqi politicians to "blow the citizenship of the Jews and force them to emigrate."
"It was not enough for them and they brought together all the Jews from the Arab countries, from Morocco to Algeria and from Tunis, Libya, Egypt and Lebanon," he continued.
The establishment of the Jewish state in 1949 led to violent riots, looting and attacks on local Jewish populations in countries throughout the Middle East, including Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Egypt.
About 900,000 Jews had fled or had been forced to flee the countries they came from as a result of the creation of the State of Israel. As a result, the Jewish population in the Middle East (with the exception of Israel) and North Africa dropped from 856,000 to only 4,400 today.
In his speech, Abbas noted that the PLO had rallied against the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a British declaration calling for the establishment of a Jewish home in historic Palestine.
And yet, according to the Palestinian leader, the Jewish-British history of Palestine dates back to Oliver Cromwell's governance in 1653.
"He had thought of moving Jews from Europe to the Middle East in this region because he wanted the latter to be a frontier to protect the convoys and interests that came from Europe to the East" said Abbas de Cromwell, whose plan never came true.
Abbas then traced the history of European colonialism in Palestine to Napoleon Bonaparte, who also said that Jews must have a state in their historic cradle. This was the case through the American attempts in the 1850s to establish settlements, first with local Palestinian Jews and then with American Christians.
Addressing the story of Theodor Herzl, who is considered the father of modern Zionism, Abbas said he was interested, at first sight, in establishing a Jewish home to help European Jews. Focusing on one of the earliest Zionist slogans, "a land without people for a people without land," Abbas claimed that the father of Zionism had called for genocide of local Arab populations.
Abbas claimed that when Herzl visited Palestine and saw the people who lived there, he would have said, "We must eliminate the Palestinians from Palestine so that Palestine is a land without people for a people without land."
The Zionist leader is not well known for advocating the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
The Times of Israel team contributed to this article.