Yitzhak Santis

Of Livingstone, Hitler and the unmentioned Nazi Palestinian Mufti

This article is co-authored with Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs.

In the uproar following Ken Livingstone’s comments about Hitler having been a Zionist “before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews” a crucial point has not been raised: the collaboration at the highest levels with the Nazi regime by Haj Amin el Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the father of Palestinian nationalism.

The intense criticism against Livingstone is appropriate.  Correcting the history of the Zionist movement and its response to the rise of Nazism is paramount.  Yet, if dealing in any manner with the Nazi regime delegitimizes a national movement, then Palestinian leader Haj Amin’s close collaboration with the likes of Himmler, Hitler, Eichmann and Goebbels should make anti-Israel campaigners rethink their strategy of injecting the Holocaust into their assault on Israel’s legitimacy.

There is a world of difference between the desperate effort of Zionist leaders to rescue German Jewry from the Nazis, which by definition required the need to “deal” with Berlin, and Haj Amin’s overt alliance with Nazi Germany including support for the Final Solution.

Anti-Israel campaigners often make the point that Palestinian Arabs should not be “made to pay for the Holocaust,” a “European crime.”  This argument fails on two counts.  First, it ignores the three millennia of unbroken Jewish habitation of the land of Israel, in which Jews are an indigenous people.  Secondly, it denies the close collaboration with Nazi Germany by the Palestinian leadership of that era, which by 1941 knew of, supported and even participated in the Nazi genocide.  This is something for which contemporary Palestinian leadership must finally acknowledge and take responsibility.

Scholars have written comprehensively on this Palestinian (and other Arab) collaboration with Nazi Germany.  There is no excuse for ignorance on this matter.  Jeffrey Herf’s “Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World”, Klaus-Michael Mallmann’s and Martin Cüppers’ “Nazi Palestine”, Zvi Elpeleg’s “Through the Eyes of the Mufti: The Essays of Haj Amin, Translated and Annotated,” David G. Dalin’s and John F. Rothmann’s “Icon of Evil” and many other historians documented extensively this chapter of World War Two history.

Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting with Adolf Hitler (December 1941). Photo: Bundesarchiv / Wikimedia
Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting with Adolf Hitler (November 1941). Photo: Bundesarchiv / Wikimedia

The record is shocking, especially to those unaware of it.  Haj Amin, the uncontested leader of Palestine’s Arabs during the crucial Mandate years, sought an alliance with the Nazis beginning soon after Hitler came to power.  The “Great Arab Revolt” of 1936-39 was aided by German funding and weapons. When the British exiled Haj Amin in 1938 he secretly went to Iraq.  There he began agitating against the pro-British government in Baghdad with other pro-Nazi Arab nationalists.  In 1941, with assistance from Nazi intelligence, he and his Iraqi allies staged a coup and installed a pro-Nazi government.

This led to the massacre of some 200 Iraqi Jews.  This pogrom, known by its Arabic name Farhud, marked the importation of the Holocaust to the Arab world.  The Farhud is now a recognized international memorial day thanks largely to the work of noted author Edwin Black.

After the British regained control of Iraq, Haj Amin went to Germany offering his services to Berlin.  He met Hitler who told the Palestinian leader of his plans to annihilate the Jews of the Arab world.  Heinrich Himmler, the architect of the “Final Solution,” took Haj Amin under his wing, ensconced him in luxurious quarters and established an Arab Bureau.  Haj Amin’s services to the Third Reich included pro-Nazi Arabic broadcasts to the Arab world for Goebbels’ Radio Berlin, and the formation of Bosnian Muslim Waffen SS divisions that fought the anti-Nazi Partisans in Yugoslavia.

Haj Amin also enabled the murder of thousands of Jewish children.  In 1943 he called upon his Nazi hosts to prevent the humanitarian transport of 4,000 Jewish children to Palestine that was negotiated between London and Berlin via the International Red Cross.  He corresponded with high ranking Nazis urging them to void the agreement, reminding them “that it is very much more purposeful to hinder Jewish emigration, and to send them where they are under strict control, e.g. Poland.”

There is no doubt Haj Amin knew what sending the children to Poland meant: certain death in the gas chambers.  That same year, in a speech given at a public rally in Berlin, he declared, “The Germans know how to get rid of the Jews. What brings us so close to Germany … is that Germany has never caused damage to Muslims, and it fights against our mutual enemy – the Jews.  But above all, they finally solved the Jewish problem for good.”

Haj Amin also hoped to establish a death camp in Nazi “liberated” Palestine near Nablus once Rommel’s Afrika Korps conquered Egypt.  Haj Amin also supported the concentration camps established in Nazi-occupied Tunisia in which thousands of Tunisian Jews were murdered, and the Einsatzkommando mobile death squads that were standing by in occupied Greece to bring the Nazi genocide machinery to the Middle East and North Africa.  Only Rommel’s defeat prevented all of this.

So, if Livingstone and his anti-Israel fellow-travelers wish to talk about Hitler and the Holocaust, let them.  It opens the path for a full discussion on the period, allowing us to remind the world of the inconvenient truth of how Palestinian nationalist leaders knew of, and actively supported, the Holocaust.

We will then see how quickly they will again broadcast the lie about Zionist “collaboration” with Nazi Germany.

About the Author
Yitzhak Santis resides in Ramat Yishai in northern Israel. He is studying for his MA in Holocaust Studies at the Weiss-Livnat International Program in Holocaust Studies at University of Haifa.
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