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Dumping blame for the Holocaust on a Palestinian is an insult to its six million victims

A highly incriminating story, if true – but 'possible' is hardly the stuff of history
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And so – amid the tragedy and revenge of last week’s butchery by Arabs and Jews, we should return to that devious, hypocritical – yes, and anti-Semitic – man, the Palestinian Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the prelate who visited Hitler and Himmler and supported their persecution of the Jews of Europe. Did he know that the Holocaust had started?  Of course he knew. Did he make morally iniquitous broadcasts for the Nazis? Of course he did. Did he appeal to the Germans to send Jews “to the east”? Of course, he made just such a call which may – or may not – have sealed the fate of Jews in Europe.

But a new book goes much further. Its two authors, the late Barry Rubin and Wolfgang Schwanitz, claim this Palestinian Jew-hater (let us not avoid the truth here) was actually responsible for the mass killing of the Jews of the Holocaust, that without him – without this single, one Arab Muslim who was largely treated by the Nazis themselves with the scorn he deserved – the greatest crime against humanity in modern generations would not have taken place. You get the point, of course. Haj Amin was a Palestinian. He brought about the mass murder of the Jews. Therefore the Palestinians were responsible for the Holocaust. Ergo…

Well, you can imagine. How can the Palestinians be trusted with a state when they and their fellow Arabs “demonstrated how the same radical views that had once found the Nazis to be congenial, right-thinking allies, had such a powerful, long-lived effect in shaping the contemporary Middle East”. This, the authors assert, “is the terrible secret of modern Middle Eastern history”.  At which, you have to cry:  ‘Whoah there!’

It’s not difficult, of course, to dredge up bucket-loads of racist drivel from Palestinian and other Arab leaders – whether of the “pigs” and “microbes” variety, or of the more insidious Holocaust denial/“Hitler didn’t finish the job” dirt which anyone living in the Middle East – myself included – hears and must, always, fight. And Arabs point out, correctly, that Israeli politicians have variously called  Palestinians “cockroaches in a glass jar”, “ants”, “serpents” and “crocodiles”. 

But the Rubin-Schwanitz thesis in Nazis, Islamists and the Making of the Modern Middle East goes much, much further. After some extraordinary research – and a lot of new archive material – they formulate the theory that Haj Amin was the architect of the Holocaust and that he had so much power over Hitler and his cronies that he was, in effect, the perpetrator of the mass murder of the Jews of Europe. Much of the material to support this comes from Fritz Grobba (former German envoy to Kabul, Baghdad and Riyadh, and Muslim-Arab affairs officer in the Nazi foreign ministry) – “highly dubious evidence”, in the words of Gilbert Achcar, whose own research fills a volume of tremendous historical importance (The Arabs and the Holocaust) – and from the observation that Haj Amin and his colleagues were the only Nazi allies (apart from fascist movements) who gave their support to the “genocide plan”. 

For example, when a proposal that Jews were to be released from Nazi captivity – 10,000 children via Romania to Palestine in 1942 – in return for the Allied release of German civilians, Adolf Eichmann noted that Haj Amin had heard of the plan and protested to Himmler, who, according to the book, “had then reversed his decision and sent them (the children) back to almost certain death”. The authors repeat the story that Haj Amin had visited Auschwitz extermination camp, drawing upon a sinister document recording the Palestinian Grand Mufti’s 1943 visit to Himmler at the Ukrainian village of Zhitomir (near Kiev), which is geographically close to the Polish town of Oswiencim (Auschwitz). Rubin and Schwanitz say that it is “possible” Haj Amin visited the death camp on his way to Zhitomir, and that Treblinka and Majdanek camps were “also conveniently located for a possible visit along the route”.

A highly incriminating story, if true – but “possible” is hardly the stuff of history. The authors record some fatuous conversations between the Palestinian and Nazi officers, the former favourably comparing Islam to Nazism and the latter exclaiming their admiration for the religion, even though both sides knew this was nonsense. Having established that these two views had little in common, Rubin and Schwanitz then make an astonishing leap of faith by recording Hitler’s suicide – then adding that “the Third Reich’s Arab and Islamist allies were just getting started in conducting what would become the longest war of all”.

This lies at the heart of the whole “Islamofascist” narrative (see Christopher Hitchens, Norman Podhoretz and George W. Bush) in which Nazism still exists in Arab anti-Semitism, and in which the Mufti was “a pioneer in race murder” – this from Sean McMeekin in his The Berlin-Baghdad Express – for inciting Arab mobs to lynch Jews in Jerusalem in the 1920s. McKeekin quoted Hitler as telling Haj Amin that he would annihilate “the Jews living under British protection in Arab lands”, a sentiment which the Palestinian heard “with an air of gratification”. The source, again, is Grobba. And the problem is obvious. If we trust this account, do we therefore trust the Nazi version of history?  If they lied so much, how come the Nazis were scrupulously honest in recording Haj Amin’s actions and words? And how come, by the way, do the authors of Nazis, Islamists etc not talk about the historically established links between Nazism and Zionism? 

The Grand Mufti, let’s face it, was a pretty horrible man, immoral and racist, but he was a puny figure in the history of Nazism’s epic evil. Dumping the Holocaust on this wretched figure is ultimately an insult to history as well as to the six million victims of an evil regime. It also provides another means of denigrating the entire Palestinian people – whose lands are still being gobbled up by the Israeli government – when the real criminals were neither Muslim nor Arab but Europeans, that cultured, largely Christian race who have inflicted more suffering on the people of this world than any other in recent history.