Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a controversial statement as he was leaving for Germany on the role of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s statement suggesting that the idea of genocide against the Jews of Europe originated with the Mufti and not Hitler was overstatement, and quickly walked back by Netanyahu (but not before Netanyahu’s political enemies had a field day with it).

But there is a silver lining in Netanyahu’s political gaffe — people now are talking about the role of the Grand Mufti in the European genocide.

We have discussed the Mufti’s Nazi-sympathies and assistance here before, so it’s not new to us.

But given the current “Knife Intifada,” in which the agitation to kill Jews is pervasive in Palestinian culture, it’s clear that there is a direct line from the Mufti’s Nazi-affiliation to the Jew hatred that motivates the current conflict.

Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic tweeted out a link to this study from 2005, National Socialism and Anti-Semitism in the Arab World. It’s very lengthy, so read the whole thing. Here is an excerpt:

Nobody had a greater influence on the early history of the Middle East conflict than the Mufti, who as president of the Supreme Muslim Council was not only the supreme religious authority but also the central figure in Palestinian nationalism. In the 1930s, there were countless Arab nationalists who viewed Germany as an ally against the British without concerning themselves with the nature of the Hitler regime. Things were different where the Mufti was concerned: he knew what the regime was about and was attracted to it for that very reason.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1980-036-05,_Amin_al_Husseini_bei_bosnischen_SS-Freiwilligen.jpg

[November 1943 – al-Husseini greeting Bosnian Waffen-SS volunteers with a Nazi salute.]

The Jewish Journal describes the Mufti’s specific assistance to the Nazis, The truth about Jerusalem’s grand mufti, Hitler and the Holocaust:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went too far in recent comments that Nazi collaborator Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem before and during World War II, played a “central role in fomenting the Final Solution” by trying to convince Hitler to destroy the Jews during a 1941 meeting in Berlin. But Netanyahu was right on when he emphasized the Mufti’s Holocaust complicity and activities before, during, and after the war when the Mufti lied about alleged Jewish intentions to expel Muslim and Islam from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount—the same lie that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas repeats today in support of the current “knife Intifada.” …

Who was Haj Amin al-Husseini and what was his historical significance? A relative of Yasser Arafat as well as ally of Hassan al-Banna, originator of Hamas’ parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Grand Mufti was a moving force behind Palestinian Jew hatred, from the riots of 1920 and 1929 through the 1936-1939 bloody Arab Uprising against the Holy Land’s Jewish community, long before his WWII support of Nazi Germany.

According to Historian Robert Wistrich’s Hitler and the Holocaust (2001), the Mufti escaped British scrutiny in Jerusalem after the war’s outbreak for the more friendly confines of Berlin, where, in November, 1941, he had tea with Hitler who asked him “to lock in the innermost depths of his heart” that he (Hitler) “would carry on the battle to the total destruction of the Judeo-Communist Empire in Europe.” In 1942, Fred Grobba wrote approvingly of the Mufti’s visit with members of the Nazi elite to “the concentration camp Oranienburg . . . . The visit lasted about two hours with very satisfying results . . . . the Jews aroused particular interest among the Arabs. . . . It [the visit] . . . made a very favorable impression on the Arabs.”

In 1943, the Mufti extended his relations with the German Foreign Office and Abwehr directly to the SS Main Office. Gottlob Berger arranged a meeting between al-Husayni and SS chief Heinrich Himmler on July 3, 1943. Al-Husayni sent Himmler birthday greetings on October 6, and expressed the hope that “the coming year would make our cooperation even closer and bring us closer to our common goals.” The Grand Mufti also helped organize a Muslim Waffen SS Battalion, known as the Hanjars, that slaughtered ninety percent of Bosnia’s Jews, and were dispatched to Croatia and Hungary. The Mufti also made broadcasts to the Middle East urging Arabs and Muslims to honor Allah by implementing their own Final Solution.

The Times of Israel has historical documentation of the Grand Mufti’s meeting with Hitler.

Claims that Israel is intending to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque persist in Palestinian propaganda to incite violence — and have since before the current knife attacks, as David Horvitz writes in The Times of Israel:

The message that “the Jews are plotting against Al-Aqsa” has been pushed for months by Palestinian political chiefs, spiritual leaders, mainstream and social media: Mahmoud Abbas in speeches to his people (he finally lost the Israeli middle ground with his false accusation last week that Israel executed the teen Pisgat Zeev stabber); Fatah in leaflets and Facebook posts; Hamas in videos; the Islamic Movement agitating inside Israel; Arab Knesset members… all these and others have been throwing fuel onto the fire.

Professor Jeffrey Herf described the direct line from the Grand Mufti to modern propaganda, Hate Radio – The long, toxic afterlife of Nazi propaganda in the Arab world (2009)(h/t Elder of Ziyon):

Between 1939 and 1945, shortwave radio transmitters near Berlin broadcast Nazi propaganda in many languages around the world, including Arabic throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and Persian programs in Iran. English-language transcripts of the Arabic broadcasts shed light on a particularly dark chapter in the globalization of pernicious ideas. The transcripts’ significance, however, is not purely historical. Since September 11, 2001, scholars have debated the lineages, similarities, and differences between Nazi anti-Semitism and the anti-Semitism of Islamic extremists. These radio broadcasts suggest that Nazi Arabic-language propaganda helped introduce radical anti-Semitism into the Middle East, where it found common ground with anti-Jewish currents in Islam….

Many decades and events stand between World War II and contemporary expressions of radical Islam. Yet the transcripts of Arabic-language propaganda broadcasts offer compelling evidence of a political and ideological meeting of minds between Nazism and radical Islam. The toxic mixture of religious and secular themes forged in Nazi-era Berlin, and disseminated to the Middle East, continues to shape the extreme politics of that region.

It is a straight line from the anti-Semitic Palestinian violence of the 1930s and 1940s to the BDS movement, whose birth at the 2001 Durban conference was steeped in Nazi imagery, as the late Congressman Tom Lantos described:

Each day, these groups organized anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic rallies around the meetings, attracting thousands. One flyer which was widely distributed showed a photograph of Hitler and the question “What if I had won?” The answer: “There would be NO Israel…”

At a press conference held by Jewish NGO’s to discuss their concerns with the direction the conference was taking, an accredited NGO, the Arab Lawyers Union, distributed a booklet filled with anti-Semitic caricatures frighteningly like those seen in the Nazi hate literature printed in the 1930s. Jewish leaders and I who were in Durban were shocked at this blatant display of anti-Semitism. For me, having experienced the horrors of the Holocaust first hand, this was the most sickening and unabashed display of hate for Jews I had seen since the Nazi period.

Netanyahu, in his clarification of his original statements, pointed to the glorification of the Grand Mufti (video via Elder of Ziyon):

And a straight line to the blood libels that fuel hostility to Israel from groups like Hamas:

And the Jew hatred that is taught to the young:

It’s good that we are talking about this, because the current violence is not about borders or “occupation” of the West Bank.

[added] In a new article on October 22, 2015, considering the controversy over Netanyahu’s comments, Prof. Herf writes that Netanyahu is wrong about the influence of the Grand Mufti in instigating genocide, but completely correct as to the lasting anti-Semitic nature of the opposition to the Jews in Israel:

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments about Haj Amin al-Husseini’s impact on Hitler’s decision making about the Final Solution in Europe do not stand up to the consensus of historical research. Husseini’s importance in Nazi Berlin lay far more in assisting the Third Reich’s Arabic language propaganda toward the Arab world and in mobilizing Muslims in Eastern Europe to support the Nazi regime. That said, Netanayhu’s comments about Husseini’s lasting impact on Palestinian political culture are very much on the mark….

Here the Prime Minister is on rock solid ground. Far from denouncing Husseini for spreading lies, absurd conspiracy theories and radical anti-Semitism, he has remained a revered figure in Palestinian political memory. The absurdities for which Husseini became famous in the 1940s have continued to play a far too prominent role in the Palestinian political culture ever since. He did incite others to murder Jews. He did spread ridiculous conspiracy theories comparable to those of the Nazis. He did all that he could to help the Nazis in a failing effort to spread the Holocaust to the Middle East and to win the war in Europe. He left behind a legacy of hatred, paranoia, religious fanaticism and celebration of terror so long as it was aimed at Jews and Israelis. The Palestinian authority and Hamas even more so has kept that legacy is alive and well and fills the heads of Palestinian teenagers with rubbish that has led to the terror wave of recent weeks.

The Prime Minister has erred in his understanding of the timing of Hitler’s decision making but he is right about Husseini’s disastrous impact on Palestinian political culture. I hope that the discussion his comments have generated will draw more attention to the now abundant scholarship on Husseini’s role in collaborating with the Nazis in their failed efforts to murder the Jews of North African and the Middle East during World War II. We need more public discussion about the atrocious legacy he left behind that has been playing itself out, yet again, in the knife attacks on the streets of Israel’s cities….

More from David Horvitz:

This latest phase of terrorism and violence — like the conventional wars, and the suicide bomber onslaught, and the relentless campaign of misrepresentation and demonization and denial of Jewish history in the holy land — sends the opposite message to Israel. Much of the rest of the world — so short-sighted in viewing Israel as the Goliath when it’s a tiny, loathed sliver in a region seething with Islamist extremism — refuses to see it. But in bloody, unmistakable capital letters, the perpetrators of this new round of evil mayhem proclaim to Israelis: We don’t want to live alongside you. We want to kill you and force you out of here.

Netanyahu did himself some political damage by overstating the case, but he did us all a favor by focusing so much on the historical sources of anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism.

[Featured Image Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting with Adolf Hitler (December 1941) via Wikipedia]

[Title of post changed because I liked Leslie’s formulation better, and additional material added.]