A history lesson by Bibi Netanyahu

On Tuesday evening, the Prime Minister addressed the World Zionist Congress and declared that Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem between 1921 and 1937, had suggested to Adolf Hitler to “Burn [the Jews].” The Premier continued and declared that it was al-Husseini who in fact convinced Hitler, not to expel the Jews, but rather to exterminate them.

Now as has been made clear by several historians- and political opponents who have joined in the chorus, al-Husseini did not truly take as active a role in the Final Solution as Netanyahu might have suggested. However, here I believe we must look at the big picture. What Netanyahu’s speech does do is highlight the culpability of the Arab leadership in British Mandatory Palestine.

Unlike some, I thank Netanyahu for this brief and evocative history lesson.

Historians have examined the historical legacy of al-Husseini and have concluded unequivocally that he supported the extermination of the Jewish people. Indeed, al-Husseini, would spend the Second World War in Berlin serving as a consultant to Hitler, at one time even touring Auschwitz with glee. For what it’s worth, al-Husseini looked forward to “solv[ing] the Jewish problem…according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews” upon his return to Palestine. Ultimately, al-Husseini’s evil designs for Palestine’s Jewish population were never realized and was even sought after by Allied authorities for prosecution during the Nuremburg Trials.

To truly understand Netanyahu’s address we must examine a factor in the murder of six million Jews; the denial of the Jewish Refugees. At almost each country’s door step, Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler were turned away. Among those whose gates remained firmly shut were those belonging to the United States, Canada, and Britain. Famously, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Frederick Blair declared “none is too many” when discussing how many refugees were to be let into Canada.

Now, this refugee crisis would not have occurred had a Jewish State existed. While we place blame on the Western nations for denying asylum, the Nazi leadership for their racial policies, and on the peoples of Europe for joining in on the slaughter of Jews, not enough blame is put on those who prevented the establishment of a Jewish State. I believe this is who Netanyahu was trying to highlight; those who prevented the establishment of a Jewish State. A Jewish State, had it been allowed to exist, would have served as a sanctuary for fleeing European Jews.

This topic is described in detail by Alan Dershowitz in his book The Case for Israel, in the chapter, provocatively entitled, “Have the Jews Exploited the Holocaust.” Dershowitz examines the Arab High Committee’s and the Arab masses’ emphatic rejection of the 1937 Peel Commission Partition Plan for Palestine. Despite Jewish acceptance and David Ben-Gurion’s understanding that “a Jewish State must be established immediately,” Arab leadership denounced any form of partition and/or of granting equal rights to Jews. As a result, the plan could not be implemented, and a Jewish State that could have saved an unknown number of Jewish lives was tragically not allowed to exist.

Here Netanyahu is correct in reminding the world that those who rejected the establishment of a Jewish State bear responsibility for the deaths of six million Jews. The Premier’s address also creates a parallel between those who continue to and those who have historically dismissed Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State.

In the same way those who rejected Israel’s right to exist bear responsibility for the Holocaust of European Jewry, modern day rejectors are accomplice to this crime by not learning from history. As a Jewish State would have saved European Jewry in the 1930s and 1940s, today’s Jewish State continues to protect and save Jews from global anti-Semitism.

So must we really criticize Netanyahu for reminding us just how deeply the Axis coalition ran? I think no.

And must we really criticize Netanyahu for reminding us (again) of just how important a Jewish State is? Of course, no.

About the Author
Dan Poliwoda is an Honours History student at the University of Western Ontario. On campus he is VP Programming for Israel on Campus at UWO, where programming includes tabling, keynote speakers and discussions.
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