Blog 22



            As a child, I thought calling someone “the grand mufti” was joking around. Turns out, it’s a bad joke! If you haven’t heard of Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, you will want to know about his role in the early days of the formation of the state of Israel. This Palestinian became an instigator of the Holocaust.

Why should you know about him? In November 2008, a set of blueprints for the Auschwitz extermination camp signed by SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler turned up in a Berlin apartment being renovated. In an affluent quarter of Berlin during the Third Reich, the building originally belonged to Haj Amin al-Hussein. We know for a certainty that during the war years of 1941-1945, the Haj was living in Berlin. An Auschwitz survivor testified that he saw the grand mufti visit the death camp along with Himmler in 1943.

On my first trip to Israel in 1968, the world I found in the country was closer to the one the mufti came from than what exists today. Much of the Old City remained under piles of dirt and the streets looked like 1945. Today, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have caught up with the 21st century. If Haj Husseini had his way, these changes would never have occurred.

With a wealthy family holding land in Southern Palestine, Husseini’s family  produced mayors for Jerusalem in the early 20th century. Husseini emerged as the Grand Mufti (a scholar with authority to issue legal opinions or fataawas in Islam) and controlled the Islamic Court in Palestine. In the ‘20s and ‘30s, he opposed the immigration of Jews to Palestine.

Husseini’s goal? The Palestinian sought a declaration from the Nazis creating the future independence of an Arab state in which he would be the Fuhrer of the Arabs.

The racial pseudo-science of the Nazi placed the Arabs in the same boat with the Jews because both were “Semites.” Aware of the snub, Husseini asked the Germans to use “anti-Judaism” instead of  “anti-Semitism.” He didn’t get far.

The mufti’s hands were in every attempt to annihilate the Jewish community. With his extensive intelligence network, he had to be privy to top-secret Final solution arrangements. As the Nazi’s began losing the war, Husseini stepped up his efforts to no avail. However, his intervention ensured all migrating Jew were sent to Poland rather than allowed to enter Palestine. During the post-war period, Husseini dodged criminal justice and barely escaped prosecution at the Nuremberg war crimes trial.

In Klaus Gensicke’s The Mufti of Jerusalem and the Nazis, blame for the Palestinian flight in l948 is placed squarely on Husseini’s shoulders. The Palestinian exodus discredited Husseini’s leadership which ended up being replaced by the PLO. In l974, he died in Beirut, Lebanon. His schemes to elevate himself and his family only clouded the true political situation in Palestine and actually paved the way for Israel to arise out of the ashes of what had been Palestine.

While unworthy of positive commemoration, Haj Amin al-Husseini remains an appropriate symbol of the hate Israel has endured.


Do you any resemblance between Husseini, Yashar Arafat, and any current Palestinian leaders?

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