Is Netanyahu Really Wrong About The Mufti and Hitler?

I did some more research on the issue Netanyahu raised about the Mufti having given Hitler the idea to exterminate the Jewish virus, as Hitler liked to call us.First let me make it clear that anyone who reads into Netanyahu’s statement even a small degree of diminishing Hitler’s guilt would accuse Netanyahu of anything at all f it would serve their purposes. Let us look at the issue seriously:

Netanyahu did not make up this idea – he was raised on it. His father, Professor Benzion Netanyahu, a historian, spoke about it, as was recalled in a blog having nothing to do with the current debate. Writing in Times of Israel in 2012, investigative journalist David Bedein wrote about a history class he attended in high school addressed by Benzion Netanyahu, then at Philadelphia’s Dropsie University:

Prof. Netanyahu was then the head of the Revisionist Zionist movement in the USA.

The trigger for Prof. Netanyahu was the Mufti of Jerusalem,Haj Amin el-Husseini, who had worked with Hitler throughout World War II.

The Mufti had signed a pact with Hitler in 1941 to assure mutual cooperation in the mass murder of the Jews, receiving Hitler’s promise to help the Mufti create a “Juden Rein” Palestine.

Testimony at the Nuremberg War Crimes trials cited the Arabic language radio tirades of the Mufti and the Mufti’s active involvement in the training of an Islamic unit of the Waffen SS in the Balkans, and the pressure that the Mufti brought to bear on the Nazis not to ransom Jews, but only to kill them.

However, the Mufti somehow managed to escape to Cairo.

What Prof. Netanyahu told our class was that the Zionists were upset there was no US pressure on the UK, then in control of Egypt, to apprehend the Mufti, who would live on to inspire the Arab League’s war to exterminate the new State of Israel

The Mufti would also live to inspire his young relative and protégé, Yassir Arafat, to forge the PLO and its covenant , also dedicated to exterminating the state of Israel.

In an interview with HaAretz in December 1996, Arafat’s younger brother and sister described how the Mufti was of seminal influence on him, and that Arafat saw the Mufti as a surrogate father.

When I was doing research on this topic for a blog post I originally uploaded in June 2015 I found a video of anthropologist-historian Francisco Gil-White who made a claim similar to that of Prof Netanyahu.

On the other side of the debate we can find a quote in Fred Jerome’s book:

But Hannah Arendt, who attended the complete Eichmann trial, concluded in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A report on the Banality of Evil, that “The trial revealed only that all rumours about Eichmann’s connection with Haj Amin el Husseini, the former Mufti of Jerusalem, were unfounded.” Rafael Medoff concluded that “actually there is no evidence that the Mufti’s presence was a factor at all; the Wisliceny hearsay is not merely uncorroborated, but conflicts with everything else that is known about the origins of the Final Solution” (Rafael Medoff, “The Mufti’s Nazi Years Re-examined,” Journal of Israeli History, 17, no. 3, 1996). Bernard Lewis also called Wisliceny’s testimony into doubt: “There is no independent documentary confirmation of Wisliceny’s statements” (Lewis, Semites and Anti-Semites, 156).

What this means is that there is a historical debate, and a legitimate historical debate, concerning a very important issue. What is not a question is that the Europeans let Husseini get off scott free after the war in spite of the fact that they knew he was involved in genocide. For example, nobody denies that he influenced Hitler regarding his plan of exchanging 4000 Jewish kids and 500 Jewish adults for 20,000 German prisoners of war who were then located in the British Mandate of Palestine, successfully convincing him to send them to Auschwitz instead of to what later became Israel. And there was much much more for which he should have been tried.

Those criticizing Netanyahu for his controversial statement and neglecting to mention the academic debate are engaging in the very same false rhetoric of which they accuse him. They try to make it appear that he was pulling a straw argument out of thin air for purely political reasons. I wonder what their political reasons are for doing so.

Other Sources:
Arabs and Nazis – Can it Be True? by Elliott A. Green, Jan-Feb 2005.
Nazi Influence in Arab World Drawing New Scholarly Attention, by Rafael Medoff, April 28, 2013.

About the Author
Sheri Oz, owner of, is a retired family therapist exploring mutual interactions between politics and Israeli society.
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