Fury grows over Bibi’s Holocaust ‘distortion’
Mufti gave Shoah idea to Hitler, says PM
THE ISRAELI Prime Minister has caused uproar by saying that it was only after meeting the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, in November 1941, that Adolf Hitler decided to embark on the Final Solution.
Speaking to the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu said that when the two men met, “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here (to Palestine).’”
According to Mr Netanyahu — whose father was a lauded historian — Hitler asked Al-Husseini: “What should I do with them?” He replied: “Burn them.”
The Mufti of Jerusalem, one of the founding fathers of Palestinian nationalism, was widely known as a virulent antisemite and supporter of Hitler.
But this account of their meeting, which is based solely on the statement of one SS officer, has been dismissed by almost all serious historians.
Professor Dina Porat, chief historian at Yad Vashem, said: “You cannot say that it was the mufti who gave Hitler the idea to kill or burn Jews. It’s not true.”
Al-Husseini’s influence in the Third Reich is generally regarded as limited to propaganda broadcasts in German and helping recruit Bosnian Muslims for the SS.
By the time the men met in November 1941, around a million Jews had already been murdered in shooting-pits in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and western Russia.
Mr Netanyahu’s words have been taken as implying that the Palestinians share some responsibility for the Shoah.
In 2012, the Israeli Prime Minister
as he sought to restrict Jews from praying at the Wailing Wall. In 1929, this resulted in mob violence that left 133 Jewish people dead in Jerusalem and beyond. The death toll would have been greater had the Haganah forces not fought back, before the British Army restored control.
While all of this is a matter of record, what Mr Netanyahu claimed next is not. The Israeli leader said that until Hitler met the Mufti in November 1941, he did not want to exterminate the Jews, but rather expel them from Germany. Mr Netanyahu then claimed that al-Husseini had convinced Hitler to “burn” them instead.
While most biographies of Hitler have walk-on roles for murderous foreign antisemites, such as the dictatorial Croat Ante Pavelic or the Romanian Ion Antonescu, as well as the Mufti, no serious historian would claim any of them influenced his decision to murder Europe’s Jews.
These men were remote from the decision-making inner circles of the Third Reich. Hitler’s obsessional hatred of Jews was deep and longstanding, a fire that required no further stoking by any external hand.
Nazi murderousness toward the Jews burst onto German and Austrian streets during Kristallnacht in November 1938, while its keener SS Jew-killers got ahead of themselves from day one of the September 1939 invasion of Poland. The inspiration for this was Hitler’s “prophetic” speech on January 30 of that year, when he said that the outbreak of a world war would result “in the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe”.
Four months before the invasion of Russia, in March 1941, the German security and military apparatus put in place the structures and the personnel for the wholesale murder of “Jewish Bolsheviks”, leaving ample latitude for that to mean Jews in general.
The SS Einsatzgruppen and their local helpers went about that task with a vengeance after Operation Barbarossa commenced on June 22, 1941. A mandate for industrial-scale mass murder was issued on July 31, seemingly in response to pressures (for example, Jews starving to death in winter) that Nazi policy had created in the first place.
Mr Netanyahu is right not to allow the world to ignore a vicious stream of antisemitism that has long been rife within what is risibly called the “Arab world” but which extends to non-Arab Muslims too, from Iran to Pakistan.
Palestinian Arabs are not immune to this either, despite adroitly casting themselves as victims. But this should not distract from where ultimate responsibility lay for the Holocaust, which was with Germany and Hitler.
Professor Michael Burleigh has written widely on Nazi Germany