Historian: Netanyahu right on Hitler, wrong on Mufti

Hebrew Univeristy academic says Hitler didn't originally seek to kill Jews; Muslim scholar says blaming Holocaust on Palestinians will only create further divides.

October 23, 2015 03:10
3 minute read.

Historian: Netanyahu right on Hitler, wrong on Mufti‏

Historian: Netanyahu right on Hitler, wrong on Mufti‏


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A new academic study supports Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent inflammatory statement that Adolf Hitler changed his plan in December 1941, from expelling the Jews of Europe to annihilating them, following a meeting with the Palestinian Arab leader at the time, Jerusalem Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini. While the timescale coincides with the infamous meeting between Hitler and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the researcher behind this Hebrew University post-doctorate study-- Priests Publishing founder Dr. Yehuda Cohen-- denies the prime minister's claim that the latter was the driving force behind the Final Solution.  

"The academic research found that Hitler did plan to deport the whole of European Jewry and this plan was on up until December 1941, and not --as is known by the general public-- that this was his original scheme from 1939," says Gideon Cohen, CEO of Priests Publishing which has published a ten-volume series named A Post- or Super-Nationality in The European Union.

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“In actuality, Hitler did change his plan from total expulsion to total annihilation of Europe's Jews. This decision was made by Hitler and was motivated by inner German motivations and not by the Mufti's speaking to him and convincing him  - which is not a certain historical fact,” Cohen stresses. "But even if the Mufti did try to convince Hitler to change his plan, the change of Hitler's plan was made by Hitler and from German inner motivations and not any outside elements.” Cohen notes that one of Hitler's main motivations was making Germany and all of occupied Europe judenrein (free of Jews). 

Netanyahu’s claim that the Mufti was behind the Final Solution sparked uproar among both Jews and Muslims alike. Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi,  a Muslim Pakistani-born religious studies professor at Manhattan College in New York -- who also serves as the college's Director of the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center -- tells The Jerusalem Post she was “astonished” by Netanyahu’s comments. “Netanyahu’s comment that the Mufti was the instigator of the murder of Jews was historically inaccurate,” she states.  Dr. Afridi is also a member of the ethics and religion committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. “I was surprised that this came out at this tense time, and it is going to make my work harder to raise awareness of the Holocaust and of anti-Semitism,” she says in reference to the current wave of terror in Israel and the West Bank. She says that blaming the Palestinians for the Holocaust makes it “very challenging for those of us who do want peace and who are doing the fact checking and who are working to bring people together.”

Dr. Afridi doesn’t deny that the Mufti bore anti-Semitic feelings or that he was upset with the Jewish migration to Palestine. “But I also want to say that the Nazi party was really strong in creating propaganda, and it created a mosque and Islamic center in Berlin and really worked at having the Arabs align with them because they didn’t have allies and neither did the Arabs - so the history is very complicated.” She also states that the photo of the Mufti and Hitler was taken after the Final Solution began, and adds that the Mufti wanted another meeting with Hitler but the latter denied his request because he didn’t see him as an important figure.

“I’m not denying the anti-Semitism and resentment at the time of Muslims against Jews,” she emphasizes, but adds that Netanyahu’s comments have upset her on behalf of both Muslims and Jews. “This was a very advanced systematic murder and to put it on the Palestinians is very problematic, and this will just divide the people - which is not what we need right now.”

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