Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has ordered embassies to use a photo of Adolf Hitler’s 1941 meeting with the Mufti of Jerusalem to counter international criticism over a Jerusalem settlement project, a senior official told AFP July 22. “The foreign minister ordered the distribution of the photo to all embassies abroad as a response to the Shepherd Hotel incident in order to prove a well-known point that the mufti collaborated with Hitler,” the official said on condition of anonymity. Foreign Ministry staff apparently opposed the move.
The US last month summoned the Israeli ambassador to Washington, demanding that the project in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem be halted. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flatly refused, saying Israel’s sovereignty over East Jerusalem is “unquestionable.” The settlement project is slated for the site of the Shepherd Hotel, owned by Jewish-American millionaire Irving Moskowitz. It is on a site known to Palestinians as Karm al-Mufti, which once belonged to Amin al-Husseini, the wartime mufti.
In the US, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations got on the bandwagon, issuing a statement in support of the construction that also invoked the Mufti:
It is particularly significant that the structure in question formerly was the house of the infamous Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseni who spent the war years in Berlin as a close ally of Hitler, aiding and abetting the Nazi extermination of Jews. He was also linked to the 1929 massacre in Hebron and other acts of incitement that resulted in deaths and destruction in what was then Palestine. There has been an expressed desire by some Palestinians to preserve the building as a tribute to Husseini. [JTA, July 21]
Alan Dershowitz also gets in on the act, responding in the Jerusalem Post July 26 to a New York Times piece three days earlier that was entitled “Hamas Shifts From Rockets to Culture War.” Dershowitz entitles his rejoiner “Will Hamas’s new ‘Culture War’ acknowledge its historic ties to Nazism?” Here’s the crux of his argument (if we may so flatter it):
The truth is that the Palestinian leadership, supported by the Palestinian masses, played a significant role in Hitler’s Holocaust.
The official leader of the Palestinians, Haj Amin al-Husseini, spent the war years in Berlin with Hitler, serving as a consultant on the Jewish question. He was taken on a tour of Auschwitz and expressed support for the mass murder of European Jews. He also sought to “solve the problems of the Jewish element in Palestine and other Arab countries” by employing “the same method” being used “in the Axis countries.” He would not be satisfied with the Jewish residents of Palestine – many of whom were descendants of Sephardic Jews who had lived there for hundreds, even thousands, of years – remaining as a minority in a Muslim state. Like Hitler, he wanted to be rid of “every last Jew.” As Husseini wrote in his memoirs, “Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world.
“I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a manner befitting our national and racial aspirations and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews. The answer I got was: ‘The Jews are yours.'”
The mufti was apparently planning to return to Palestine in the event of a German victory and construct a death camp, modeled after Auschwitz, near Nablus. Husseini incited his pro-Nazi followers with the words “Arise, o sons of Arabia. Fight for your sacred rights. Slaughter Jews wherever you find them. Their spilled blood pleases Allah, our history and religion. That will save our honor.”
Now, how many things are wrong with this? Let’s count.
1. There are no sources. It appears that the most incriminating charge—the Mufti toured Auschwitz and served as a “consultant” on the Final Solution—emerged from the Nazis themselves. The Palestine Facts website informs us that Adolf Eichmann’s deputy Dieter Wisliceny (subsequently executed as a war criminal) testified at the Nuremberg Tribunal:
The Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan… He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard him say, accompanied by Eichmann, he had visited incognito the gas chamber of Auschwitz.
Might it not have occurred to Dersh that a Nazi war criminal facing the gallows would have incentive to scapegoat a wog?
2. Even if all these charges are true, it hardly adds up to a “significant role” in the Holocaust. The reactionary Palestinian leadership of the day were useful pawns for the Nazis—not masterminds. The Nazis did indeed plan to extend the Holocaust to Palestine if they ever got there, but they intended to do it themselves, not farm out this critical task to Arab proxies. Research revealed two years ago that the SS created a special “Einsatzgruppe”—the elite corps that oversaw the Final Solution—to carry out the extermination of Palestine’s Jews. The Einsatzgruppe waited in Greece in 1942 for Gen. Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Corps to break through British-controlled Egypt and reach Palestine. (Rommel was turned back at the Battle of El Alamein in October.)
3. Even if we accept all Dershowitz’s claims, how does any of this prove Hamas’ “historic ties to Nazism”? Hamas was founded in 1987, and does not trace its leadership back to the Mufti’s Husseini clan, a traditional land-holding elite that the British had been attempting to groom as proxies. (The Mufti was installed as the “official leader” of the Palestinians in a British-instrumented sham election.)
4. The Mufti’s alliance with Hitler was based at least as much on mutual enmity for the British (who had promised Palestine to both the Arabs and Jews, and then seemed in no hurry to hand it over to either) as for the Jews. There were plenty of such alliances based on common enemies in the war years. How come nobody ever gives the Finns a hard time for having been on the wrong side in World War II? Just asking.
On the other side of the coin, the lefty Richard Silverstein in The Guardian Aug. 6 provides some interesting background on the odious Moskowitz—a real estate developer with political agenda—but he can’t resist committing a clueless political faux pas that will just provide ammo for the Liebermans and Dershowtizes:
In 1985, Moskowitz purchased a political and real estate crown jewel: the Shepherd Hotel, for which he paid $1m. The property had been the headquarters of the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, a leader of Jerusalem Palestinians in the 1940s, who allied himself with the Nazis during the second world war. The state took control of the property decades ago and then sold it to Moskowitz. In one stroke, Moskowitz wrested from Palestinians part of their historic legacy and enabled the settler movement to make inroads into a new Arab neighbourhood.
A “part of their historic legacy”? What, if the Zionist state is demonizing the Mufti, he was therefore a hero? As usual, there is no shortage of cant to go around…