Yes, Virginia, the Palestinian Arabs do have a deep connection to the Holocaust
The loquacious Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad likes to repeat certain rhetorical flourishes incessantly.
His favorite, of course, is that Israel, which he often endearingly refers to as the “Zionist entity,” will be “wiped off the map” — or, in some more literary translations, “eliminated from pages of history.” Perhaps his second favorite rhetorical flourish, though, is asking why Palestinian Arabs should have to suffer for what Europeans did during World War II?
Let’s assume (the Holocaust) happened, the extent of which everyone is speaking of,” Ahmadinejad said in one iteration of this favorite rhetorical styling. “If the crimes were committed in Europe, why should the Palestinian people be victimized as a result?”
This formulation, obviously, is wrong on many levels, not least of which because Israel’s legitimacy as a nation does not depend on the Holocaust. But since the Iranian president is determined to press this point, it seems only appropriate to point out, well, actually yes, the Palestinian Arabs do share a deep and sordid connection to the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews.
With a new report published by the National Archives incorporating thousands of newly declassified documents, some shedding new light on this connection, this little piece of not-so-well-known history seems relevant to address again.
The Palestinian Arab tie to the Holocaust comes primarily through Haj Amin al-Husseini, the recognized leader of the Arabs of Mandate Palestine from shortly after World I until well after World War II. Forced out of Mandate Palestine by the British in the late 1930s for inciting violence, al-Husseini found his way to Nazi Germany during World War II.
Hitler’s Mufti, as some would later not so affectionately call him, spent the war years in Germany aiding the Nazis and plotting to bring the Final Solution to the Jews of the Middle East.
“Hitler himself signaled his intention to eliminate the Jews of Palestine,” the National Archives new report, “Hitler’s Shadow,” reads. “In a November 29, 1941, conversation in Berlin with the Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hitler said that the outcome of the war in Europe would also decide the fate of the Arab world. … Hitler said that Germany’s only objective there would be the destruction of the Jews.”
This was a cause that al-Husseini was more than ready to sign on to.
The newly declassified documents also show just how lavishly al-Husseini lived in Berlin during the war years – thanks to the generosity of his benefactor, Adolph Hitler. As the report reads:
The CIA file on Husseini includes a document indicating that he had a staff of 20-30 men in Berlin. A separate source indicates that he lived in a villa in the Krumme Lanke neighborhood of Berlin. From spring 1943 to spring 1944, Husseini personally received 50,000 marks monthly … for operational expenses. In addition, they [al-Husseini and another Arab leader living in Berlin] received living expenses averaging 80,000 marks per month, an absolute fortune. A German field marshal received a base salary of 26,500 marks per year.
Despite some of the new details the National Archives report brings to light, the extent of al-Husseini’s connection to Nazi Germany has been known for some time. In their book “Icon of Evil” (which I reviewed for the Weekly Standard in 2008), David G. Dalin and John F. Rothmann do an excellent job of cataloguing al-Husseini’s perfidy.
During his time in Berlin, al-Husseini broadcast messages to the Arab world, urging Arabs to join the Nazi cause. He also supposedly became close friends of Heinrich Himmler and Adolph Eichmann, though this would be denied by al-Husseini after the war. Most notoriously, al-Husseini personally recruited Muslims to help the Nazis exterminate Jews, most successfully in Bosnia.
“With (al-Husseini’s) encouragement and incitement,” Dalin and Rothmann write, “the Bosnian Muslim Waffen-SS company that he recruited, the notorious ‘Handschar troopers,’ slaughtered 90 percent – 12,600 – of Bosnia’s 14,000 Jews.”