Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu Blames Grand Mufti Of Jerusalem For ‘Inspiring The Holocaust,’ Saeb Erekat Denounces Comments As ‘Inflammatory’

Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu has blamed the Palestinians for inspiring Hitler to commit the Holocaust in their worry that fleeing Jews would come to British-controlled Palestine. Netanyahu, while still blaming Hitler for pulling the direct causal trigger on the Holocaust by authorising it, he goes on to say that the Holocaust might never have happened if it were not for the Palestinian Grand Mufti.

“It is… absurd to ignore the role played by the Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was a war criminal and encouraged Hitler to exterminate European Jewry.”

Some people took a less serious interpretation of the comments, seeing the comments as ignoring history.

Speaking at the 37th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on Tuesday, October 20, 2015, Netanyahu argued that “holy places” in Israel are being used by the Palestinians as a pretext for attacks against Jews.

“He [the Grand Mufti] flew to Berlin. Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said… ‘burn them.’ “

The Congress came just a day after five Palestinians were killed in the occupied territories and an Israeli was killed in the West Bank.

Holocaust scholars reacted by correcting Netanyahu, who maintain that the first death camps at which Jews were burned were formed in 1941 before the meeting of Husseini and Hitler. In fact, Author Zaid Jilani wrote an article in which evidence is put forward showing the Nazi’s so-called “final solution” was put forward as an idea months before the meeting.

Jilani explains.

“The killing centres in Poland were organised under so-called Operation Reinhard, and work on these units began in October 1941, a month before the Mufti visited Jerusalem.”

It is, however, acknowledged that Mufti did meet Hitler, expressing his support, but it is also well-known that the extermination of Jewish people had already started before the meeting.

Professor Dina Porat, Chief Historian from the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, concurs with the above. Others joining in the condemnation of Netanyahu’s comments include the Israeli opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, who has demanded that Netanyahu correct his statement, despite his grandfather, Rabbi Herzog, being killed on an order from al-Husseini.

There are messages of support and condemnation of Netanyahu filling up the search phrase “Netanyahu” on Twitter.

This most recent controversy comes amid a spate of of violence between the two sides. There has been a “wave” of stabbings and “ad hoc” gun attacks directed against Jews living in Israel and the occupied West Bank. An apparent revenge stabbing by an Israeli allegedly took place, as well. More Israeli police and military actions have resulted in a string of Palestinian deaths.

At a Jerusalem holy site, there were clashes in mid-September following claims that Israel would restrict Palestinian access in favour of Jews. Two Israelis and the subsequent stabbings occurred shortly thereafter. Both sides, as usual, blame the other. While Israel believes that the attacks are part of a larger movement by the Palestinians to destroy Israel, the Palestinians are accused of provoking the attacks via social media, which has publicized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ comments regarding “acts of aggression” by the Israeli authorities.

In fact, much of what is happening on the ground is documented by video on smartphones and uploaded to YouTube, which is undermining the ability of both sides to suppress the facts on the ground, although the context of such media is not always clear.

The unconventional attacks by Palestine are seen as a reaction to the disproportionate military power of Israel, which stops Palestine from defending itself against what it sees as unprovoked aggression. Israel, believing it has the right to self-defense, argues that it uses its military in response to the planning and carrying out of terrorist attacks by Palestinians against the Jews.

The catalyst of the most recent violence, however, is access to holy sites in Jerusalem. There are five main sites: Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Dome of the Rock, Temple Mount, Western Wall, and the al-Aqsa Mosque, all of which are contested in terms of who owns and has unrestricted access to the land containing and surrounding the holy sites.

The latest comments by Netanyahu, then, could be seen as a propaganda tool for focusing attention on the history of anti-Jewish sentiment by Palestinian figures. Zionists, in particular, are convinced that peace cannot be achieved vis-à-vis a people who are inherently opposed to the very existence of Jews and who take succor for comments from Arab leaders, such as those by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has been widely criticised for allegedly saying Israel should be “wiped off the map.

[Image by Handout / Getty Images]