PM: Investigate PA cleric who called to kill Jews

70 years after plan for Final Solution hatched at Wannsee, Jews have ability to defend themselves, says Netanyahu.

January 22, 2012 23:25
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Netanyahu at cabinet meeting

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pounding fists 311. (photo credit: Emil Salman / Pool / Haaretz)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, at the outset of Sunday’s cabinet meeting devoted largely to discussing anti-Semitism, called on the attorney-general to open a criminal investigation against a top Palestinian cleric for reciting a passage from Muslim scripture calling for the killing of Jews.

The Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a watchdog group that monitors Palestinian media and textbooks, distributed a video last week of a January 9 Fatah rally during which Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein, read out a well-known text (Hadith) attributed to Muhammad saying that the killing of Jews will speed up the redemption.

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“The day of judgment will not come until you fight the Jews,” Hussein said. “The Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will call, ‘Oh Muslim, Oh servant of God, this is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’ Except the Gharkad tree [a certain kind of tree that will keep silent], therefore it is no wonder you see Gharkad trees surrounding [Israeli] settlements and colonies.”

Netanyahu told the cabinet this was “grave” rhetoric that the international community needed to condemn.

“This is not new, but it is shameful,” Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said before the cabinet meeting. “What is frightening is that this is not a direct quote from the Hamas covenant, but that these things are being broadcast on the official PA television and get legitimacy and support from the PA. If that is not anti-Semitism, I don’t know what is.”

Hussein, in an Israel Radio interview, denied this was incitement to murder Jews, saying he never called for killing Jews, but was just reading from the Hadith. He said he couldn’t change the religious text.

The mufti was introduced by a man at the rally saying, “Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs is a war of religion and faith. Long live Fatah!” The Koran retells the story of the Exodus from Egypt and relates that God punished some Jews who rebelled against Moses by turning them into pigs and apes.

Palestinian Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud al-Habash confirmed the details of the rally as they appeared in the PMW video but said: “Our political position remains unchanged. We believe in peace. [Hussein] was simply quoting a Hadith that talks about destiny, about what could happen in the future.”

Discussion about the mufti’s comments fit in well with the main topic of the cabinet meeting, which – because of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday and last week’s commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Wannsee Conference where the Final Solution was planned – was a discussion of anti-Semitism.

“Seventy years ago, the Jewish people were helpless,” Netanyahu said. “It had no ability – neither political, nor military, nor diplomatic – to organize its defense, and one-third of our people were annihilated.”

Netanyahu said the difference between 1942 and 2012 is not the absence of enemies who want to annihilate the Jewish people, but rather “the difference is our ability to defend ourselves and to do so with determination.”

Then, obviously alluding to Iran, he said, “The Jewish people and the government of Israel have the obligation and the right to prevent another annihilation of the Jewish people or attack on its state.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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