Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s comments regarding the role of the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al Husseini, in the Holocaust have a basis in history, Dr. Edy Cohen of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the Bar-Ilan University told Arutz Sheva on Sunday.
Dr. Cohen is currently completing a book entitled “The Mufti and the Jews - the War of Haj Amin Al Husseini against the Jews of the World”.
"The Prime Minister’s remarks were not far from reality,” he told Arutz Sheva. “There was a plan by the Mufti to burn the Jews from Arab countries and Jews in Palestine after the German victory in the battle of El Alamein in 1943. Haj Amin al-Husseini was an officer in the Turkish army. I have no proof, but apparently he knew about the Armenian Genocide and drew his ideas from that. None of the historians have referred to that.”
Dr. Cohen quoted the Mufti’s words in Arabic against Iraqi Jews, whom he called a “fifth column” who provided information to British intelligence, and said that he played a part in the Farhud - the pogrom against the Jewish population of Baghdad on June 1 and 2, 1941, following the British victory in the Anglo-Iraqi War.
“The Mufti was responsible for the killing of hundreds of Jews; he planned to build incinerators in the Dotan Valley to implement the ‘Final Solution’ in the Middle East,” said Dr. Cohen. “He took that idea from the Turks. Why do many people ignore the facts rather than reading what the Mufti himself wrote in Arabic? 'I did not cooperate with the Nazis out of the belief in Nazism, but on the assumption that they would win the war and there will be no traces of any Jews in Palestine and in the Arab countries.'"
"When the Mufti was in Iraq, he established up 'Hizb al Umma' party, and the party’s constitution states that all Jews must be expelled from Arab countries as Mohammed did. For me, the Mufti is like Hitler," said Dr. Cohen, who stressed that, while he could not commit as to the content of the conversation between the Mufti and Hitler, it is clear that “both were inspired by each other. They both wanted to eliminate the Jews in Europe and Palestine. There was an unwritten plan that Hitler will focus on the European Jews and the Mufti on the Jews from Arab lands and in Palestine."
Netanyahu last week suggested that Adolf Hitler was not planning to "annihilate" the Jews until he met al-Husseini in 1941, in a comment that was sharply criticized by his political opponents and the White House which Thursday night condemned his "inflammatory rhetoric."
The prime minister later doubled down, clarifying he did not absolve the genocidal Hitler of any responsibility.
Several historians have already backed Netanyahu’s comments, such as Middle East Forum scholar Dr. Wolfgang Schwanitz who said last week, "It is a historical fact that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem al-Hajj Amin al-Husseini was an accomplice whose collaboration with Adolf Hitler played an important role in the Holocaust. He was the foremost extra-European adviser in the process to destroy the Jews of Europe."
Dr. Yosef Sharvit, a historian of the Jewish History and Contemporary Judaism department at Bar-Ilan University, also said that Netanyahu's statement was important in setting things in order regarding the history of the Holocaust.
"Aside from the inaccuracies, I think that thanks to Netanyahu's words we come out of this with a benefit, because he dealt with the centrality of the mufti who for some reason has been taken off the historical stage in everything related to the Holocaust," Sharvit told Arutz Sheva on Friday.
"When Haj Amin al-Husseini met Hitler in November 1941, he told him that there's a stark similarity between Nazism and Islam," explained Sharvit. "Husseini was responsible for establishing SS units in the Balkans. He was friendly with senior SS commanders, and was responsible for Berlin Radio broadcasts in all the Islamic lands."
"His Berlin Radio broadcasts would always end by calling to slaughter the Jews. He also was among the initiators of the final solution for Jews in the land of Israel, and if (senior Nazi commander) Erwin Rommel would have G-d forbid reached Israel, Haj Amin al-Husseini had a detailed plan to destroy the Jewish community."