No serious historian would agree with Netanyahu
MOST COUNTRIES use history among their policy tools. We have just had an example of it this week: President Xi Jinping archly told our Parlia- ment that China enjoyed the rule of law thousands of years ago — while our ancestors were still hunting and gathering around the Thames.
Sometimes the supposed lessons of history can be stretched beyond credibility. I fear that Israel’s Prime Minister did this in the course of his speech to the 37th World Zionist Congress this week.
Mr Netanyahu’s speech was large- ly about the shocking knife attacks that innocent Israelis have had to endure in recent weeks in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. But he also made one historical leap too far. Personalising matters, Mr Netanyahu spoke of how, after his grandfather came to Jaffa in 1920, Arab attackers burned down the British Mandate’s local immigration office. They had been incited by Haj Amin al-Husseini who, ironically enough, was later appointed Mufti — or chief Muslim cleric — by the British in order to moderate the violence.
In fact, the Mufti was mainly responsible for whipping up Arab fears that Jews had designs on Temple Mount’s Al Aqsa mosque, even
described al-Husseini as “one of the leading architects of the Final Solution”.
Opposition politicians have dismissed Mr Netanyahu’s assertion. Labour Party leader Isaac Herzog said that the words could be seen as trivialising the Holocaust.
“This is a dangerous historical distortion and I demand Netanyahu correct it i mmediately as it minimises the Holocaust, Nazism and Hitler’s part in our people’s terrible disaster,” said Mr Herzog.
Some commentators said that Mr Netanyahu’s words revealed either that he sees the conflict between Israel and its immediate neighbours as a continuation of the Holocaust, or that he is prepared to manipulate history for political purposes.
Mr Netanyahu was due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin this week to discuss the security situation in Israel and the wider Middle East.
‘It limits Hitler’s part in our terrible disaster’