Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked controversy on Tuesday at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, when he accused a Palestinian religious leader of being behind the idea of the Holocaust. Netanyahu insisted that Hitler had only wanted to expel Jews from Europe until he met Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini in 1941, who inspired and convinced Hitler to exterminate European Jews instead.
Netanyahu told the audience:
“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews and Haj Amin Husseini went up to him and said if you expel them, they’ll all come here (Palestine)…’So what shall I do with them?’ he (Hitler) asked, ‘burn them’ (Husseini responded).”
Extremely inaccurate and inflammatory, Netanyahu’s rhetoric has received great attention from world leaders and from the public through social media. His claims have been mocked and were met with outrage all over the world, as well as in Israel and among the Jewish community.
It is clear that Netanyahu is exploiting a terrible historical crime for a political advantage and to further spread his anti Palestinian propaganda. This dangerous historical distortion that Netanyahu has created, does not sit well with leading scholars and historians of the Holocaust and with the German government. German chancellor Angela Merkel later went on to clarify that Nazi Germany was very much responsible for the Holocaust which is apart of German History and nothing could change that. By attempting to put Palestinians at the center of the Holocaust, Netanyahu continues to demonize the Palestinian community and more dangerously, tries to change history for political purposes.
Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini was the former grand mufti of Jerusalem and a Palestinian nationalist leader from 1921 to 1937, he was known for his anti Zionist view and although he allied himself with Hitler, there is no evidence to suggest that he told Hitler to persecute Jews. Not only have scholars and historians examined the minutes and transcript of the meeting between Hitler and Al-Husseini where there is no mention of exterminating Jews, but also Hitler only met Al-Husseini in November 1941, months after the mass killing of Jews in concentration camps had already begun. So where exactly did Netanyahu get these words from? Or is he fabricating dialogue?
The uproar caused by Netanyahu’s remarks continues as he currently visits Berlin to meet U.S. secretary of State John Kerry and Angela Merkel to discuss the recent rise in violence between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian protesters.
It is unlikely that Netanyahu’s words will be forgotten and it is clear that he will have a hard time fixing what he broke.