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PA official’s visit to Auschwitz sparks widening condemnation (TIMES OF ISRAEL) By ELHANAN MILLER 08/02/12)Source: http://www.timesofisrael.com/pa-officials-visit-to-auschwitz-sparks-flurry-of-condemnations/ TIMES OF ISRAEL TIMES OF ISRAEL Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Palestinian organization in Europe declares Abbas adviser ‘persona non grata’ for visiting death camp

The visit of a Palestinian official to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland last week has infuriated Palestinians commentators, with representatives of the Palestinian diaspora in Europe condemning the gesture as “morally inexcusable.”

Ziad Bandak, an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Christian affairs, visited the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps July 27 at the invitation of a Polish organization, laying a wreath at the site where Jews and other minorities were executed during the Holocaust. The unusual visit received wide media coverage in Western and Arab press.

But the executive committee of the Union of Palestinian Communities And Associations In Europe considered the visit both offensive and ill-timed.

“In these difficult times when all political avenues are shut, [this visit] has no moral justification,” read a statement issued by the organization Thursday and published by Maan news agency. “It stands outside the national consensus and beyond political correctness.”

The statement explained that the organization “does not oppose a group of humans,” but said that in the current political climate “it would have been better for PA advisers to visit the families of Palestinian martyrs and examine their situation.”

The organization called on Palestinians residing in Poland to file an official complaint about the visit with the PLO representative office in Poland, adding that Bandak is now “a persona non grata in Europe.”

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum also attacked Bandak July 28, claiming that his visit demonstrated the moral bankruptcy of the Palestinian Authority.

“This visit is useless to the Palestinian cause and only benefits the Israeli occupation by propagating the lie of the Holocaust,” Barhoum was quoted as saying in the Hamas-affiliated daily Felesteen.

“The false Israeli narrative was refuted beyond doubt. They have exaggerated what had happened in order to garner international sympathy. Over the past years this came at the expense of the Palestinian people,” he added.

Felesteen also published an op-ed July 29 condemning the visit as an affront to the Palestinian cause.

“Who among us believes that Hitler burned six million Jews?” asked columnist Issam Shawar. “Neither we nor the Jews believe that. The world lives in a state of deception and hypocrisy called ‘the Holocaust.’”

Holocaust denial is common in official Palestinian discourse, and even the moderate Bethlehem-based Maan news agency referred to Bandak’s visit in Auschwitz as “the place where bodies were allegedly burned.” (© 2012 THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 08/02/12)

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