I am loath to talk about this. There is so much hatred for the current and longest serving Prime Minister of Israel, that I’m sure I will be bashed for my own view here. But since it is on the lips of every journalist and Netanyahu hater, I thought I would add my 2 cents.
First, I want to make clear that Netanyahu was wrong. To claim that the mass murder of Jews by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust was done at the urging of then mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini is simply false. But it is also true – as Netayahu pointed out – that Hitler did at first want to ship them out. His original goal was to make Europe Judenrein. In service to that goal when he came into power in 1933, his Nazi regime used violence and economic pressure to encourage Jews to voluntarily leave the country.
The killing began well after Hitler invaded Poland in September of 1939. But the killings were highly disorganized and inefficient. A plan needed to be put in place. Organized by Reinhard Heydrich, a high ranking Nazi official in January of 1942, the Wansee Conference was where the ‘Final Solution’ to ‘the Jewish Problem’ was determined. A solution to set up extermination camps for the purpose of mass murdering the Jews.
Let us not leave any doubt about who was responsible for the Holocaust. It was Hitler, his henchmen… and a willing or at best apathetic European populace.
What about the mufti? He was certainly not what one would call a Judeophile. He was as rabid an anti-Semite as Hitler was. That is in the historical record. He met with Hitler numerous times – as well as other Nazi creatures of evil. Like SS – Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler who was tasked with the honor of carrying out the extermination of the Jews.
What was Husseni’s role in all of this. Ironically, the answer can be found in an editorial in the Forward by J.J. Goldberg, strongly criticizing Netanyahu for blaming the Holocaust on the mufti:
What the records show is that the mufti did not pitch genocide to Hitler. Husseini did express support for Hitler’s plan to eliminate the Jews, which he had plainly heard about before the meeting. Hitler proceeded to describe the plan to him in general terms. Husseini said “the Arabs” supported Nazi Germany because they shared the same enemies, namely Great Britain, the Jews and the communists.
So how could a sitting Prime Minister of Israel make such obviously false statements? Well there is a source for such speculation. Again from the Forward:
The German, Adolf Eichmann’s deputy Dieter Wisliceny, has been quoted as testifying that the mufti and Eichmann were “best friends” and that the mufti “constantly incited” Eichmann to “greater extermination measures.”
This is hardly conclusive evidence that the mass murder of the Jews was Husseini’s idea – pitched to a Hitler who hadn’t yet considered it. It is at best an ‘urban legend’. But there is not a doubt in my mind that Husseini’s rabid antisemitism was as bad as Hitler’s was. And that if he’d had it in his power, he would have done the same thing.
That said, I agree with Rabbi Abraham Cooper:
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean Abraham Cooper and in-house historian Harold Brackman, wrote in a Jewish Journal op-ed that the prime minister “went too far” in claiming that Hitler needed Husseini’s help thinking up mass murder, but was “right on” in his larger point, namely that the the accusation of Jews threatening the Al Aqsa mosque can be traced back to the Holocaust-supporting Husseini, way back in the 1920s.
But don’t let that get in the way of the Netanyahu haters who will take any and every opportunity to bash Netanyahu. You would think that Netanyahu just blamed the Holocaust on Mother Teresa!
It would be one thing if Husseini was an innocent victim of the Prime Minister’s unfair bashing. No one should be characterized as evil when they are not. But Husseini was as evil as Hitler. The only difference being that Hitler had the means and Husseini didn’t. And he deserves the condemnation of the entire civilized world a lot more that Netanyahu does.
Why did Netanyahu make such a claim? That is a good question. Had he asked me I would have told him not to do it. Perhaps he wanted to publicly express just how far back and how serious the Jew hatred in the Arab world was – and still is. Perhaps he said it to counter the constant barrage of moral equivalency between Jews and Arabs dying now out of the mouths of -not only the media – but even US government officials. Like when John Kerry did recently said that the source of all the current violence is the settlements. Which apes Palestinian narrative.
Whatever Netanyahu’s reasons were, he was wrong to place the blame for the Holocaust on anyone other than Hitler and his henchmen.Calling him a Holocaust revisionist or even Hitler apologist as Goldberg did is far more outrageous than saying a rabid anti-Semite was responsible for the Holocaust. Let us have a little perspective and realize that Netanyahu is not the enemy.