JERUSALEM, Israel -- Maybe if he had to do it all over again, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' advisor for Christian affairs would not visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.
Perhaps Ziad al-Bandak would think about the potential backlash for touring the gas chambers and crematorium, laying a wreath and lighting a memorial candle in remembrance of the 1.5 million who died there. But it's too late now.
It's not clear why al-Bandak made the trip since many Palestinians and Islamists deny the Holocaust ever took place. It seems likely though that Abbas may have known about the trip even though he wrote his doctoral thesis on the Holocaust. Published as The Other Side: the Secret Relationship between Nazism and Zionism, it's used in the P.A. school curriculum.
But the fury came from Hamas, the Palestinian faction ruling the Gaza Strip.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum accused al-Bandak of helping "spread the lie of the Holocaust."
"The visit helped Israel to spread the lie of the Holocaust and does not serve the Palestinian cause," Barhoum said on a website affiliated with the terror group. "It has been clearly proven that the Israeli narrative [of the Holocaust] is fraudulent. [The Israelis] exaggerated what happened to gain international sympathy, which for years has come at the expense of the Palestinians."
MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) translated several excerpts from posts on Hamas-affiliated websites.
Journalists Issam Shaur and Faiz Abu Shamala slammed al-Bandak's "misguided visit."
"What sort of wisdom was it on the part of [Abbas'] advisor to make this misguided visit, which supports the Jews and their crimes?" Shaur asked. "Who among us believes that Hitler burned six million Jews? We do not believe it and neither do the Jews," he wrote.
"The entire world is living [with] a hypocritical deception called the Holocaust and it is even worse when a senior Palestinian official goes to weep over the fabricated remains of the Holocaust while ignoring the crimes of the occupation state and its sins against his own Palestinian people," Shaur continued.
"Ziad al-Bandak's tears, shed openly or not, imply that the Jews are the victims. A senior Palestinian official has testified before the whole world that the Jews' tragedy and we know this is perjury that must be rejected.
"It reflects only the feelings of Ziad al-Bandak, not the feelings of the Palestinian people toward the terrorist occupation state "Israel," which is cordoning Gaza, Judaizing the holy places, and seizing lands in front of Abbas and all his advisors, including al-Bandak," Shaur concluded.
Another journalist, Faiz Abu Shamala, said al-Bandak should be tried for treason.
"The Palestinian people should prosecute 'Abbas's advisor Ziad al-Bandak for high treason and punish him for granting official recognition to the Jewish lie that has been refuted by intellectuals and writers, first and foremost among them the French philosopher Roger Garaudy," Shamala wrote.
"The Palestinian people should punish Ziad Al-Bandak for committing treason, for acknowledging the Jews' right to rule all of Palestine as compensation for their mass extermination at the hands of the Nazis in the camps of Auschwitz and Dachau.
"The Palestinian people should thwart Ziad al-Bandak's [attempt to] infiltrate [the circle of] Palestinian decision-makers after becoming friendly with the Jews and weeping over their graves," he concluded.