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COMMENT: It is comparatively rare to see mention of Haj Amin el-Husseini in mainstream media. It is even rarer to see him mentioned in an accurate context. Recent comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did nothing to improve the coverage.
We have covered the Grand Mufti (as he termed himself) extensively over the years. Holding the rank of General in the Waffen SS, he was deeply involved with recruiting Muslim fighting formations to fight on behalf of the Axis in World War II.
He also had planned to work with the Einsatzgruppe “Egypt” and Walther Rauff to exterminate Jews living in the Middle East in the event that Rommel’s forces proved victorious.
The Grand Mufti was also instrumental in blocking the transfer of tens of thousands of Jewish children to Palestine during the closing months of the war–elements of the Nazi leadership were hoping to broker their own survival using their captives as currency. In this regard, the Grand Mufti contributed materially to the Holocaust.
It is ridiculous, however, to attribute a seminal conceptual role to Husseini vis a vis the Holocaust, as Netanyahu has done.
The Nazi extermination of European Jewry was well underway by the time Hitler and the Grand Mufti met in November of 1941.
Recent, disturbing echoes of that extermination have eluded commentary by Netanyahu.
The OUN/B heirs elevated to power through the Maidan coup have effected a combination of Holocaust denial and Holocaust celebration.
While passing laws criminalizing criticism of the OUN/B, its leader Stephan Bandera and its military component UPA, the OUN//B’s role in the Holocaust has been celebrated.
A street in the Lvov district has been named in honor of the Nachtigall Battalion (“Einsatzgruppe Nachtigall”) that exterminated the Lvov ghetto and President Poroshenko (like his predecessor Viktor Yuschenko) laid a wreath in honor of the OUN/B at Babi Yar , the site of famous Holocaust mass executions. (Most of the executioners at Babi Yar were from the OUN/B.)
Netanyahu has remained [predictably] silent about this.
Israelis–with a few exceptions–have remained silent as well.
The world’s Jewish community–with a few exceptions–have also eschewed criticism.
That silence is resonant.
If there is one place where the facts of the Holocaust are rarely contested, it is Israel. On Wednesday, however, public debate raged over comments by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who claimed that a key Palestinian cleric was a driving force behind Adolf Hitler’s attempt to exterminate the Jews.
Addressing the World Jewish Congress in Jerusalem on Tuesday, on the eve of his departure for a trip to Germany, Netanyahu said that Haj Amin Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, had planted the seed of the Holocaust during a meeting with the Fuehrer.
“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews,” Netanyahu said. “And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ ” he asked. He said, ‘Burn them.’ ”
Netanyahu referred to a meeting that took place in November 1941 between Hitler and Husseini, a fierce Palestinian nationalist and Nazi sympathizer.
Husseini, said Netanyahu, had a “central role in fomenting the Final Solution,” the policy finalized at the Wannsee Conference in January 1942 to exterminate the Jews of Europe.
The comments caused an uproar Wednesday morning, infuriating both Israelis and Palestinians, who charged Netanyahu with rewriting history and exploiting the Holocaust for political gain.
“Also the son of an historian must state facts accurately,” opposition leader Isaac Herzog said, in a reference to the prime minister’s late father, a prominent historian.
Herzog demanded that Netanyahu immediately correct what he called a “dangerous distortion of history” that reduced Hitler’s responsibility for Israel’s tragedy. Herzog warned that Netanyahu’s words “fall into the hands of Holocaust deniers like a ripe fruit,” and muddy Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.
“Hitler did not need Husseini to order the killing of Jews,” Herzog added.
“Maybe Netanyahu wants to tell this to my relatives and another 200,000 Jews murdered in Lithuania before the mufti and Hitler met?” left-wing lawmaker Zehava Galon wrote on Facebook.
“I am ashamed for you,” added Galon, who said Netanyahu disgraced Israel by “dragging through the mud” the memory of the Jewish victims of Nazi atrocity. The lawmaker, a frequent critic of what she sees as government recalcitrance on the peace process, said “all that’s left for those who can’t work to change the future is to rewrite the past.”
Another opposition lawmaker, Dov Khenin, demanded that the prime minister retract his words and apologize for what he called a “distortion of history that joins the murky wave of Holocaust denial.” The lawmaker, who leads a parliamentary lobby for Holocaust survivors, said Netanyahu crossed all red lines in his efforts to “blame the Arabs for all injustices of the world and history.” . . . .