Above: Husseini giving the “Heil Hitler” Salute to Bosnian Muslim volunteers to the notorious Waffen SS Handzar Division in November 1943.
By Sarah Honig
No one can accuse Israel’s Left of missing a beat. But the attentive ear of our homegrown self-appointed guardians of other people’s consciences is selective. All sorts of blood-curdling incitement throughout the Arab/Muslim realm fail to resonate with them. Yet they amplify with relish any aside by the true objects of their animus – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu foremost.
And so, the other day Netanyahu had the temerity to remark that the Palestinians’ still-venerated Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini opposed Hitler’s initial plan to merely ethnically cleanse Europe of Jews and exile them to such exotic locations as Madagascar. Husseini insisted the Jews burn.
It’s important to note that at the time of Husseini’s meeting with Hitler in June 1941, the “final solution” hadn’t yet become official Third Reich policy (despite slaughter that had already begun in occupied Eastern Europe). The Final Solution would be formally adopted only on January 20, 1942 at the Wannsee Conference.
For outward appearances at least, Germany’s declared objective was to expel Jews from Europe. Husseini couldn’t abide the thought and railed against mere banishment. He clamored for the Jews’ physical obliteration instead. This doesn’t mean that he inspired Hitler or that he gave him the idea for wiping all Jews out but it does powerfully attest to the mindset of the then-principal leader of the Arab world.
But who cares about fine distinctions? Instantly, a great indignant outcry arose from the righteous ranks of the Left. Netanyahu, it was bewailed, is cleansing Hitler of guilt and pinning it on Husseini. It’s as if villainy can only reside in a single persona and the villain’s kindred ideologues and avid accomplices are therefore unjustly accused.
So let’s set the record straight – Husseini wasn’t just Hitler’s useful fool. His hands were stained with Jewish blood – lots of it – and the Allies indeed declared him a wanted war criminal at the end of WWII.
He reached Cairo by the skin of his teeth but with much Nazi loot, having fled Germany four days before its collapse. The Arab world not only harbored him (as they did numerous other fugitive Nazi mass-murderers) but Husseini was adulated.
On October 1, 1948, in the midst of the synchronized Arab military onslaught on newborn Israel, the Egyptians installed Husseini as president of the “All-Palestine government” they established in the Gaza Strip (with Jerusalem as its declared capital). It was formally abolished only in 1959.
Husseini’s quasi-state was recognized by all then-independent Arab states except Transjordan, which feared his ambitions vis-à-vis its own bit of Palestinian conquest – the West Bank. Husseini is widely considered responsible for the assassination of King Abdullah I (the current Jordanian monarch’s great-grandfather). He also recruited Bosnian SS-veterans as mercenaries to aid in the genocidal invasion of the Jewish state.
Yasser Arafat asserted that “it’s an honor to march in the path Haj-Amin carved.” In 2002 he told London’s Sharq al-Awsatthat Husseini is “our hero.” Likening himself to his mentor, Arafat stressed: “I was one of his troops.”
Arafat’s successor, Holocaust-denier Mahmoud “Abu-Mazen” Abbas, is today’s highest-ranking Husseini fan.
This is the same Abbas who produced a PhD in Moscow (in 1984 it was published as a book which has become an obligatory component in the Palestinian Authority’s school curricula). Therein Abbas belittles the extent of the Holocaust and charges David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett with culpability for the very crimes he pooh-poohs.
According to Abbas’s historiography, Adolf Eichmann was merely a victim of Ben-Gurion’s cover-up because Eichmann threatened to expose the Zionist-Nazi collusion.
This is Israel’s peace-partner and since the Left embraces him and promotes the peace delusion no matter what, it’s politically incorrect to spotlight Abbas’s own Nazi sympathies. It is altogether verboten on the Left to direct attention to, much less challenge the Arabs’ cunningly complex and inherently contradictory attitudes to the Holocaust.
But the apparent incongruities are predominantly tactical. The endgame is how to best combat the remnants of Europe’s destroyed Jewry and their descendants in Israel. The common denominator for the diverse ploys is an underlying hypocrisy that allows Holocaust-justification, Holocaust-denial and cynical Holocaust-exploitation to thrive simultaneously in Arab discourse.
And here Husseini’s legacy still looms large. It is impossible to understand the Mideast dispute without focusing on Husseini because he triggered the genocidal war against this country’s Jews in all its facets – including the calumny of Jewish conspiracies to usurp Temple Mount. Everything we experience today began with him.
Husseini meticulously orchestrated the incensed spontaneity of all the great anti-Jewish pogroms in this country in the first half of the 20th century.
The 1929 countrywide carnage (remembered chiefly for the destruction of Hebron’s ancient Jewish community) was in the making for a full eleven months prior to its actual August outbreak. Husseini even prepared fake postcards with photomontages of Herzl (then dead for 25 years) on the Temple Mount to inflame passions about a Jewish plot to demolish al-Aksa. Sounds familiar?
On April 19, 1936 al-Husseini’s provocateurs spread rumors simultaneously in different quarters of Jaffa about three Arab men and one woman who were hacked to death in Jewish Tel-Aviv and whose bloodied remains were brought to a Jaffa hospital. Within minutes, as if by a prearranged signal, thousands descended menacingly on the British Mandatory headquarters.
Officials escorted a delegation through Jaffa’s hospitals to prove that there were no bodies. But real proof wasn’t in demand. Facts were immaterial and downright undesirable. Nobody was going to allow them to get in the way of a good pretext for bloodshed.
The agitators swore they saw corpses and the riled crowds needed no corpus delicti. Ferocious shrieks of itbach el-yahud –slaughter the Jews – reverberated all throughout Jaffa. The roused rabble was on the warpath to wreak vengeance on Tel-Aviv.
Thus started the Nazi-financed, three-year Arab revolt – an uprising that was every bit as deformed as the misnamed Arab Spring. Husseini’s ambitious undertaking cost thousands of lives, but paradoxically it fortified the emergent Jewish state, which would achieve independence 12 years later.
Husseini wasn’t the odd-Arab-out. He gave expression to his people’s overwhelming vehemence. Already in 1937 Josef Goebbels praised Arab “national and racial awareness,” noting that “in Palestine they hoist Nazi flags and deck their homes with swastikas and portraits of Hitler.”
Arabs were among the first to latch onto Nazi ideology. Undisguised fascist parties proliferated – from Syria’s Nationalist-Socialists headed by Anton Saada to Ahmed Hussein’s Young Egypt. Husseini was the kingpin.
During WWII Husseini’s adherents in this country eagerly awaited Rommel’s conquest. They hoarded arms, openly rehearsed maneuvers to assist Germany’s Afrika Korps, harbored German paratroopers, spied, and greeted each other with “Heil Hitler” and Nazi salutes. Their babies were given names like Hitler, Eichmann, or Rommel.
Husseini himself was ensconced luxuriously in Berlin from 1941 to May 1945, as Hitler’s personal guest. There, he hobnobbed with the fuehrer, Himmler and Eichmann.
Husseini – as “prime minister” of a pan-Arab government formed in the German capital – was lodged in a confiscated Zionist Hebrew school on Klopstockstrasse and awarded the equivalent of $10,000 a month (when the dollar was almighty) by the German foreign ministry. The sum was more than matched by the SS from its sonderfund (funds robbed from Jews). Himmler organized guided tours for Husseini in Auschwitz and Husseini plotted a Mideastern extermination camp near Nablus.
He was put in charge of Nazi propaganda to Arabs and Muslims. These included broadcast tirades, urging his disciples to “slaughter all Jews wherever you find them. Their blood pleases Allah.” He recited his own “poetry” on the airwaves. Among his proudest creations and one he repeated particularly often was the following (which, alas, loses most its zest in translation):
“The Jews bring the world poverty, malice and misery.
They tortured their innocent prophets,
Killed Yihyeh (St.John)
And rejected Issa (Jesus).
They destroy virtue in all countries…
They plunder, grab and exploit…
They are the bearers of anarchy and cause suffering in the world.
They are like moths that eat away at all good everywhere…
They are monsters and the basis of all evil in the world.
Even Nebi-Mussa (Moses) denounced them.
Their professions of sympathy are masks
And your knives already slit their throats.”
Husseini recruited Bosnians to the special Waffen SS Handzar (Handschar) Division which tortured, brutalized and concentrated Balkan Jews for death transports, much as Ukrainians did such dirty work elsewhere. The sadism of Husseini’s recruits was second-to-none.
Himmler introduced Husseini to Eichmann and two got along famously. This is backed by ample documentation from both the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials.
At the end of 1942 Eichmann ordered 10,000 Jewish children sent from Poland to Theresienstadt. The Red Cross offered to trade German civilians for them. Husseini got wind of the plan and protested vehemently to Himmler, warning that “little Jews grow to become big Jews.” The deal was scuttled.
Husseini lobbied Romanian and Hungarian foreign ministers on June 28, 1943 to foil any deals that might save the lives of Jewish children sentenced to death by his Third Reich allies. “If any reasons mandate the Jews’ removal,” he wrote, “it would be indispensable and infinitely preferable to send them to other countries where they would find themselves under active control, for example in Poland, in order to thereby protect oneself from their menace and avoid consequent damages.” We all know the lethal nature of “active control” in wartime Poland.
Husseini’s letters to the Romanians and Hungarians were catalogued by the UN in 1947. Similar texts were insistently and frequently dispatched to the topmost German echelons throughout 1943 and 1944. Husseini made it his mission to make sure no Jew escaped.
His persistent intervention indeed made sure that thousands of Jewish children slated for exchange ended up “under active control” in Poland’s Auschwitz and its hellish equivalents.
Husseini sabotaged plans to allow the emigration of 80,000 Romanian Jews, save 5000 Jewish orphans from Transnistria (to which Romanian Jews were deported), swap 10,000 Jewish orphans in Slovakia and Hungary and groups of children in fascist Croatia.
Thousands of Jewish children from Macedonia were handed over by Bulgaria at Husseini’s explicit insistence for execution in Treblinka. Eichmann and Himmler consented to the April 1943 agreement to exchange 4000 Jewish children and 500 adult escorts from the Balkans via Bulgaria for 20,000 Germans “of child-bearing age,” but Husseini fired an angry protest to Bulgarian premier Bogdan Piloff, insisting the children be put “under active control in Poland” – the above-noted euphemism for gas chambers.
Dieter Wisliceny, Eichmann’s deputy, who was subsequently executed for his war-crimes, testified at the Nuremberg Trials that he had already given orders to transfer the aforementioned 10,000 Jewish orphans from Poland to Theresienstadt in preparation for the projected exchange, only to be informed by Eichmann that everything was cancelled due to Husseini’s agitation.
Husseini, according to Wisliceny, “was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser to 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, that he had visited incognito the gas chambers at Auschwitz.” The late Simon Wiesenthal claimed Majdanek too was on Husseini’s itinerary.
Nazi official Wilhelm Melchers testified in Nuremberg on August 6, 1947: “the Mufti was protesting everywhere,” against releasing Jews. He “was an accomplished foe of the Jews and didn’t conceal that he would love to see them all liquidated.” Husseini told Melchers that “the Jewish national home must disappear” and “he doesn’t care where the Jews end up. They should all go to the devil.”
Husseini personally foiled any deal on the Holocaust’s last-minute victims. His direct intervention was felt in every attempted negotiation on Hungary’s Jews in 1944. He sealed their fate.
Holocaust-denier Abbas’s Fatah directly descends from Husseini’s forces and its ongoing ties to neo-Nazis are amply documented. Suffice it to say that Hitler’s Mein Kampf stars on PA best-seller lists, rivaled only by the infamous czarist counterfeit, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The Arab aggression against the Jews is based on an outright lie, which, once believed, becomes reality for the believers. Fraudulent reality then takes on a life of its own. If nurtured, it grows, multiplies and transforms into an axiomatic premise for a searing sense of injustice.
The lie binds. Spurious grievances confine and scourge those they ensnare.
The Arabs (who before Israeli independence fanatically spurned the Palestinian moniker as a British imperialist import – which it indeed was) were victims of their own belligerence. They murdered their own brethren and sabotaged their own economy. In 1936 Husseini instigated a self-inflicted disaster, a harbinger of the 1948 one which would follow the onslaught by seven Arab armies on day-old Israel.
The Jewish state would be blamed for surviving and would fill its thwarted would-be annihilators with yet more frustration and festering rage. Instead of abating, genocidal hate would only intensify and magnify.
Those belatedly calling themselves Palestinians portray themselves as innocents struck by a monumental calamity and continuously oppressed for no fault of their own. They clamor for another chance, for a return to Square One – presumably to recoup their losses and continue from where they left off.
No peace is possible until Arab leaders tell their people they were brainwashed for decades, victimized by lies rather than Jewish injustice. As long as Arabs feel wronged, they won’t rest till they kill the last Jew in this land.
Like it or not, the past becomes an indispensable part of Israel’s present case and without debunking outrageous distortions, Israel will be increasingly viewed as the illegitimate offspring of western connivance.
Reminding the world over and over that visceral Arab enmity spearheaded by Husseini predated so-called occupation, the establishment of a Jewish state or the Holocaust – and indeed that it contributed significantly to the unparalleled tragedy of European Jewry – becomes an imperative rather than an esoteric preoccupation.
This article originally appeared in Sarah honig’s blog on October 29, 2015. For more, or to subscribe, visit sarahhonig.com