When Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of the Palestinian Grand Mufti’s role in the destruction of Europe’s Jews, he exaggerated the Mufti’s role but not the Mufti’s sentiments, nor his agreement with Hitler’s evil intentions, or his promise to eliminate the Jews of the Arab world with German help. He spoke of these sentiments to Hitler when they met in Berlin on November 28, 1941.
Lost in the discussion about how much the Mufti influenced Hitler is the inescapable fact that the Mufti and the Führer shared the same goal, the destruction of the Jews.
Hitler and Nazi Party philosopher Alfred Rosenberg were focused on eliminating the Jews of Europe. Haj Amin al Husseini, the Grand Mufti, was focused on eliminating the Jews of the Arab world.
How much the Mufti had to do with Hitler’s Final Solution of the Jewish Question is unfortunately a diversion from the basic issue. The Mufti then, like Palestinians today, sought to slaughter Jews.
The Mufti arrived in Berlin as a personal guest of the Führer after he had precipitated the infamous pogrom against the Jews of Iraq known as the Farhud, Arabic for violent uprising or dispossession. The Mufti came to Berlin with Jewish blood on his hands, a fact barely mentioned in the discussion of the Mufti’s role in the Holocaust. Moreover, the Mufti recruited 20,000 Bosnian Muslims for the SS, the Schutzstaffel, the group that was implementing Hitler’s Final Solution.
The Farhud was the Arab Kristallnacht, and it remains, to this day, the forgotten pogrom despite the incredible and detailed research of historian Edwin Black. The Farhud was the outcome of a fusion of Arab nationalism with Nazism as cultivated by Nazi propaganda disseminated via broadcasts in Arabic from Berlin. Anyone who thinks that the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic propaganda of the modern mainstream media with their continued mistakes and routine apologies for bias is harmless has no sense of history.
The Nazis were able to convince Iraqi Arab leaders that the Jews controlled both the British and the godless Soviet Union. When it came to the Jews, the Nazis were able to accuse them of everything and anything, and get people to believe them.
The affinity of the Arabs for a strong leader and a monolithic hierarchical movement also helped in the appeal of Nazism as did financial and other resources from Baghdad’s German Embassy. Hitler wanted the oil. The Arabs wanted the British out, and for those inclined to follow the Nazi example, they wanted to vent their hatred toward the Jews, who had lived peacefully among them for 2,600 years.
The Arab-Nazi movement in Iraq launched an uprising against the British, which was defeated. The British regent was returned on the first day of the Jewish holiday of Shavouth, June 1, 1941. The defeated Arab-Nazis, a movement that comprised diverse components including one that was modeled on the Hitler Youth, took their frustrations out on the Jews. The Farhud, which lasted two days, could have easily served as model for ISIS, with people slaughtered in front of their families, women and girls repeatedly raped, and then having their breasts slashed off. The death toll estimates vary, but it is generally thought that over 600 Jews were killed in two days.
The Mufti was one of the most prominent leaders in the Nazi movement in Iraq and responsible for the Farhud. For the Mufti, the Farhud was the harbinger of the larger goal for which he sought Hitler’s help, the destruction of the Jews of the Middle East.
The one uplifting and hidden story in accounts of the Farhud is the extent to which ordinary Arabs helped their Jewish neighbors escape death at risk of their own lives. It was a time when many Muslims had not been impregnated with the anti-Semitism of Europe and the fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran.
The most important aspect of the controversy surrounding Netanyahu’s statements is that then as now, the Nazi vision of a Europe free of Jews was shared by the leader of Palestinian nationalism, who sought a Middle East free of Jews, and was as willing as was Hitler to accomplish that through mass murder. When it came to Palestinians finding their salvation in the slaughter of Jews, Netanyahu is at least correct about there being ample precedent.