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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Holocaust denier Abbas no partner for peace

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Dave Gordon's article, "Obama should use Israel trip to promote real peace" (Web, March 9), is excellent, calling on the president to make clear that demonizing our ally Israel is unacceptable. I would add one specific request: If President Obama truly wishes to promote peace, he must demand that Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas publicly repudiate his vile 1984 book "The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism."

Few people realize that Mr. Abbas -- often described in ostensibly objective news reports as a peace-seeking moderate -- is the author of a mendacious and hateful Holocaust-revisionist polemic. Mr. Abbas' book, originally written as a doctoral dissertation at a Soviet university in Moscow, called the Holocaust "The Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that 6 million Jews were killed." He insisted that "many scholars" have determined that "only a few hundred thousand" Jews actually died, and claimed that a "scientific study" proved there were no gas chambers. Moreover, he asserted that the Holocaust was actually a secret Nazi-Zionist conspiracy, claiming, "The Zionist movement led a broad campaign of incitement ... to expand the mass extermination." The Anti-Defamation League and David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies have both condemned the book as Holocaust denial.

It is tempting to dismiss Mr. Abbas' fallacious screed as ancient history. Just this January, however, Mr. Abbas defended the book, telling Beirut-based al-Mayadeen television that he has "70 more books that I still haven't published" alleging Zionist-Nazi ties. Clearly, he remains an unrepentant Holocaust denier.

Yet Mr. Abbas, the Palestinian "Teflon don," has mysteriously escaped the stain of his own hateful words. The New York Times has mentioned Mr. Abbas' vile book only once in a news article, buried in the 20th paragraph of an otherwise fawning 23-paragraph profile story on March 11, 2003. The Washington Post has alluded to it three times: twice (May 10, 2003 and Jan. 16, 2005) in profiles that said Mr. Abbas had earned "a doctorate in history from Moscow's Oriental College," without explaining the despicable subject matter of his dissertation, and a third time (May 27, 2009) in a profile hailing him as a man of peace who was "trained as a lawyer and historian," without mentioning that his "historian" credentials rest on an anti-historical Holocaust-revisionist tirade.

Until Mr. Abbas publicly disavows his Holocaust-denying diatribe, he has absolutely no credibility as a partner for peace.

STEPHEN A. SILVER

San Francisco

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