Letters to the Editor: Readers react to PM’s remarks on mufti, Holocaust

Sometimes, in order to get from Point A to Point B, we have to start out in what seems to be the opposite direction.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Carolyne B. Glick is absolutely right (“Crazy like a fox,” Column One, October 23). Just look what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accomplished – in one fell swoop, he caused countless Holocaust deniers/minimizers to join in a chorus blaming Hitler for the tragedy. All of a sudden, they no longer deny the Holocaust! This makes me think of Caleb after he returned with those who were sent to scout the land. To get the attention of the people, he shouted out: “Is that all that Moses did to us? Just listen to what else he did!” And when the people quieted down, they heard only praise: “He split the sea for us...” and so on (See Rashi on Numbers 13, 30).
In Hebrew, we call this hafuch al hafuch (topsy-turvy logic).
Sometimes, in order to get from Point A to Point B, we have to start out in what seems to be the opposite direction.
The writer is a member of the board of directors of Professors for a Strong Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not an unintelligent man, though in light of some of his recent pronouncements, this might be subject to question.
The most bizarre of his declarations is the preposterous claim that Haj Amin al-Husseini introduced Hitler to the possibility, and desirability, of exterminating Jews.
The official records of the November 1941 Hitler-Husseini meeting contain not the slightest hint of Mr. Netanyahu’s fanciful and theatrical dialogue. Certainly, members of Germany’s Einsatzgruppen did not wait for the mufti’s go-ahead before starting their mass slaughter of Jews, most infamously at Babi Yar in September 1941.
What could have prompted the man to peddle such nonsense? The answer would appear to be his insistence that the continuous building of settlements, like all other complaints of the Palestinians, is not in any way a significant or valid factor in their political considerations. They hated us in the days of Husseini, they still hate us, and everything else is simply window dressing.
There is thus no reason to stop building, because settlements are not the real issue.
Latching on to the Hitler-mufti conversation must have seemed like a promising argument. That tampering with the historical record might prove less than compelling apparently did not occur to the prime minister.
LEO TAUBES Jerusalem
The furor over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments is misplaced. He did not imply Haj Amin al-Husseini’s guilt for the genocidal murder of the Holocaust.
He made two very important points. The first was to shatter once and for all the repeated myth symbolized by the caricature of a hook-nosed Jew being hurled from the window of an upper-level apartment (Europe) to land on, and flatten, an innocent Palestinian.
The second point was to say that the similarity between the means of demonizing Jews/Israelis then and now is unmistakable.
The genocidal predictions made by Hitler and his cohorts were no different in tone than those being spouted by the mouthpieces of Arab hatred of the Jews today, whether in Gaza, Iran or elsewhere.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu somewhat overstates the case against the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.
Clearly, the mufti was a rabid and violent anti-Semite, but he undoubtedly had no need to encourage Hitler’s anti-Semitism.
Hitler was the worst, most extreme anti-Semite in history. In his mania, he believed that Jews were a non-human, wholly evil, inherently destructive anti-race that throughout all human history had been at war with the so called Aryan race, a war that would end only when the Aryans had completely destroyed the Jewish people or vice-versa. He held these racist views – and acted upon them – long before he met Husseini.
Having said that, it is important to note that Netanyahu is correct about Husseini’s criminal behavior.
The mufti was both the religious and political leader of the Palestinian Arabs. He instituted a campaign of terror against anyone opposed to his rule and policies.
He incited for the killing Jews at every opportunity, including the infamous massacre in Hebron in 1929. In 1937, he expressed his solidarity with Nazi Germany.
In 1940, Husseini asked the Axis powers to acknowledge the Arab right to “settle the question of Jewish elements in Palestine and other Arab countries in accordance with the national and racial interests of the Arabs and along the lines similar to those used to solve the Jewish question in Germany and Italy.” He spent the last years of the war as Hitler’s guest in Berlin – advocating the extermination of Jews in radio broadcasts back to the Middle East, and recruiting Balkan Muslims for the notorious SS “mountain divisions” that tried to wipe out Jewish communities throughout the region.
Evidence presented at the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials showed that Nazi Germany, through the SS, helped finance Husseini’s efforts in the 1936-39 revolt in Palestine. Adolf Eichmann visited Palestine and met with Husseini, and thereafter maintained regular contact with him.
At Nuremberg, Eichmann’s deputy, Dieter Wisliceny, testified that Husseini “was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and [SS chief Heinrich] 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, he had visited incognito the gas chambers of Auschwitz.”
After the war, the mufti was indicted by Yugoslavia for war crimes but escaped prosecution.
In August 2002, Yasser Arafat referred to “our hero Husseini” as being a symbol of Palestinian Arab resistance.
Husseini’s Nazi links and rabid support for the Nazi attempt to destroy the Jewish people provide an understandable explanation for the Israeli prime minister’s overstatement.
BILL ANDERSON Melbourne, Australia
The writer is a historian and consultant to the Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre in Melbourne.
Just as Arab rabble-rousers blame all the problems of their nations on Israel and the Jews, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blames the Holocaust on Arabs. I think he should resign.
Not only has his arrogant political bombast twisted history and dishonored the memory of those who died in the Holocaust, but his statement underlies an irrational hatred of Arabs and Muslims that equals their irrational hatred of Jews and Israel.
How can this personage represent Israel with integrity? How can he be expected to honestly steer his nation toward a better future? Perhaps US President Barack Obama is right about something.
BRIAN JACOBS Bellevue, Washington
In addition to the genocidal urgings of Haj Amin al-Husseini to slaughter Jews, the British government issued a White Paper in May1939 that restricted the number of Jews allowed to enter Palestine to a mere 10,000 per year. At the same time, the St. Louis, a ship carrying almost a thousand German-Jewish refugees, was refused entry to Cuba and US ports. It was forced to return to Germany, and its passengers perished in concentration camps.
The failure to respond to the plight of Jews was understood by the Nazis. No one cared, and the Holocaust could begin.
MOSHE DANN Jerusalem
While it is correct to point out Mr. Netanyahu’s misstatement in the matter, why is no mention made of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Holocaust denial?