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Millions for Palestinians - but years of wrangling over compensation for victims of terrorism

The phrase has been part of the standard repertoire of anti-Semitism for decades: how Israel treats the Palestinians is nothing other than what the National Socialists did to the Jews.

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Millions for Palestinians - but years of wrangling over compensation for victims of terrorism

The phrase has been part of the standard repertoire of anti-Semitism for decades: how Israel treats the Palestinians is nothing other than what the National Socialists did to the Jews. In representative surveys of the German population, this statement regularly receives comparatively high approval ratings.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took the slanderous claim to extremes on Tuesday afternoon: Israel has committed "50 holocausts" in the Palestinian territories to date, he said at a joint press conference with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD). Scholz only distanced himself later.

In his dissertation in 1982, Abbas denied the murder of millions of Jews by the Germans, now he uses it to accuse the Jewish state. This was preceded by a reporter's question as to whether he was planning to apologize on behalf of the Palestinians 50 years after the Munich Olympic attack.

In his reply, Abbas did not address the assassination attempt of 1972, in which Palestinian terrorists murdered eleven Israeli athletes and a German police officer.

Little is known in Germany that the mastermind behind the attack, Abu Daoud, claimed in his 1999 autobiography that Abbas was responsible for financing the Olympic attack. At that time, Abbas was already a high-ranking functionary of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – alongside the then PLO chief Yasser Arafat and responsible for finances. The PLO funded the Black September terror group that carried out the Munich massacre.

50 years later, the dispute over compensation payments from the federal government to the families of the victims of terrorism escalates. Ankie Spitzer, widow of fencing trainer André Spitzer, who was murdered in Fürstenfeldbruck, recently spoke of "50 years of abuse, lies, humiliation and rejection by the German government and especially by the Bavarian authorities". And canceled the participation of the victims' families in the memorial service planned for September 5th.

A recent offer by the federal government to pay out ten million euros to the families, minus the 4.6 million euros from 1972 and 2002, was rejected as an "insult".

The FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag is now calling for higher compensation amounts. "The offer of compensation is far from sufficient for an amicable and dignified settlement," said FDP foreign policy officer Frank Müller-Rosentritt. "The amount of this compensation should not necessarily be based on other cases - and if so, then on international standards."

The federal government and its anti-Semitism commissioner Felix Klein recently pointed out that the offer was at the upper limit of what you would get today as a victim of a terrorist crime. Müller-Rosentritt, on the other hand, would like "the sometimes scandalous handling by the German side" and the long time in which the bereaved had to fight for their concerns to be taken into account.

"It is unacceptable that we support extremely questionable Palestinian organizations with taxpayers' money in the millions, while the families of the victims of the Olympic attack have had to beg for appropriate compensation for decades."

Linda Teuteberg, responsible for combating anti-Semitism within the FDP parliamentary group, said that the goal should be "an agreement on appropriate compensation based on international standards". "The role of today's Palestinian President Abbas at that time must also be clarified." German responsibility and reasons of state in relation to Israel should not remain abstract, but should be unmistakably expressed in the behavior of representatives of the German state in concrete situations.

The Greens are demanding that the federal government use the planned commemoration in Fürstenfeldbruck to apologize to the bereaved for past omissions. Warnings from secret services before the assassination had had no consequences. Later, the German effort to free the hostages failed catastrophically. The files were closed just a few days later, and some are still locked today.

“The absence of the bereaved must be given sufficient consideration. The least would be a public apology, ”said Green MP Philip Krämer, who is vice-chair of the sports committee in the Bundestag. In order to prevent and defend against terrorism in the future, a complete investigation into the attack is finally needed.

Marlene Schönberger, responsible for Jewish life within the Green Group, said that she respected the relatives' absence. “One thing should be clear: an apology is needed. I would think the memorial would be a good time," she said. Regarding the amount of the compensation payments, "answers should be found in ongoing trusting talks as to what is appropriate, even if there has now been a new confrontation". Dealing with anti-Semitic terrorism has been absolutely inadequate in the past decades.

Dirk Wiese, Vice-Chairman of the SPD in the Bundestag, welcomed the decision of the Federal Government to provide additional recognition services for the surviving dependents in addition to the amounts already paid. Now it is important to “reach a consensus together with the families of the victims and to continue the talks constructively, also with a view to the commemoration event on September 5, 2022”.

A spokesman for the Bavarian State Chancellery announced that the Bavarian state government very much regretted the rejection of the bereaved. "Negotiations will continue with the aim of reaching a positive result."

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic, analyzed by WELT editors, and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or directly via RSS feed.

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