Andy told me the other day he had a piece slowly cooking on the back burner, in response to Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu’s recent speech connecting the Palestinian leadership/movement to the Nazi movement of the 30’s and 40’s. Here it is, DELIVERING IT IN SPADES.
This essay is dedicated to both the late David Littman (d. May 20, 2012), and his wife, Gisele Littman, nom de plume, Bat Ye’or, for their wise, patient, and generous mentorship.
Paragons of meticulous scholarship, and unflinching intellectual courage, the Littmans introduced me to the themes explored herein, and virtually all my other writings on Islam. David’s 1971 monograph, Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel, and Gisele’s 1974 book chapter, “Modern Egyptian Jew Hatred: Indigenous Elements and Foreign Influences”, will stand forever as examples of their uniquely prescient understanding of modern, canonical Islamic Jew-hatred.
I was blessed to have the Littmans as mentors, personifications of this Confucian dictum:
“A true teacher is one who, keeping the past alive, is also able to understand the present.”
Confucius (Analects 2.11)
October 4, 1944—69 years ago—a then internationally renowned Muslim cleric, addressing imams of the Bosnian SS Division fighting for the Nazis, stated the following to his co-religionists:
Nearly one-third of the Koran concerns the Jews. The Koran calls upon all Muslims to protect themselves against the Jews and to fight them wherever they may meet them. The Jews in Khaybar attempted to poison Muhammad, the messenger of Allah; they also carried out themselves or supported various attacks on the person of the Prophet, all of which failed. Muhammad’s many attempts to bring the Jews to their senses were unsuccessful, with the result that he saw himself as simply forced to dispose of the Jews and to run them out of Arabia.1
This accurate summary of canonical, mainstream Islamic theology regarding Jews,2 was made by Hajj Amin el-Husseini—the preeminent Arab Muslim leader of the World War II era. Concordant with his stature then, in Islamdom, el-Husseini was viewed by Adolph Hitler (and also the Waffen-SS), as a “Muslim pope.” For example, the Nazi regime promoted this former mufti of Jerusalem in an illustrated biographical booklet (printed in Berlin in 1943) which declared him Muhammad’s direct descendant, an Arab national hero, and the “incarnation of all ideals and hopes of the Arab nation.” 3
On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States unanimously endorsed the “Mandate for Palestine,” confirming the irrevocable right of Jews to settle in the area of Palestine—anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The Congressional record contains a statement of support from New York Rep. Walter Chandler which includes an observation, about “Turkish and Arab agitators . . . preaching a kind of holy war [jihad] against . . . the Jews” of Palestine.4 During this same era within Palestine, a strong Arab Muslim irredentist current—epitomized by Hajj Amin el-Husseini—promulgated the forcible restoration of sharia-mandated dhimmitude for Jews via jihad. Indeed, two years before he orchestrated the murderous anti-Jewish riots of 1920, that is, in 1918, Hajj Amin el-Husseini stated plainly to a Jewish coworker (at the Jerusalem Governorate), I. A. Abbady, “This was and will remain an Arab land . . . the Zionists will be massacred to the last man. . . . Nothing but the sword will decide the future of this country.” 5
Despite his role in fomenting the1920 pogroms against Palestinian Jews, el-Husseini was pardoned and subsequently appointed mufti ofJerusalem by the British high commissioner, in May 1921, a title he retained, following the Ottoman practice, for the remainder of his life. Throughout his public career, the mufti relied upon traditional Koranic anti-Jewish motifs to arouse the Arab street. For example, during the incitement which led to the 1929 Arab revolt in Palestine, he called for combating and slaughtering “the Jews.” not merely Zionists. In fact, most of the Jewish victims of the 1929 Arab revolt were Jews from the centuries-old dhimmi communities (for example, in Hebron), as opposed to recent settlers identified with the Zionist movement. 6
With the ascent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, the mufti and his coterie intensified their antisemitic activities to secure support from Hitler’s Germany (and later Bosnian Muslims, as well as the overall global Muslim umma [community]), for a jihad to annihilate the Jews of Palestine. Following his expulsion from Palestine by the British, the mufti fomented a brutal anti-Jewish pogrom in Baghdad (1941), concurrent with his failed effort to install a pro-Nazi Iraqi government. Escaping to Europe after this unsuccessful coup attempt, the mufti spent the remainder of World War II in Germany and Italy. From this sanctuary, he provided active support for the Germans by recruiting Bosnian Muslims, in addition to Muslim minorities from the Caucasus, for dedicated Nazi SS units. The Mufti’s objectives for these recruits, and Muslims in general, were made explicit during his multiple wartime radio broadcasts from Berlin, heard throughout the Arab world: an international campaign of genocide against the Jews. For example, during his March 1, 1944, broadcast he stated: “Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion [i.e., Islam].” 7
Hajj Amin also attempted to contribute to the German war effort in Yugoslavia by recruiting Bosnian Muslims for the so-called Handzar Division. 8 Jan Wanner has observed that,
His [the mufti’s] appeals . . . addressed to the Bosnian Muslims were . . . close in many respects to the argumentation used by contemporary Islamic fundamentalists . . . the Mufti viewed only as a new interpretation of the traditional concept of the Islamic community (umma), sharing with Nazism common enemies. 9
However, the creation of these Muslim units, for which the mufti bears direct responsibility, had only a limited impact on the overall destruction of European Jewry when compared with his nefarious wartime campaign to prevent Jewish emigration from Europe to Palestine. Wanner, in his 1986 analysis of the mufti’s collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II, concluded,
[T]he darkest aspect of the Mufti’s activities in the final stage of the war was undoubtedly his personal share in the extermination ofEurope’s Jewish population. On May 17, 1943, he wrote a personal letter to Ribbentrop, asking him to prevent the transfer of 4500 Bulgarian Jews, 4000 of them children, to Palestine. In May and June of the same year, he sent a number of letters to the governments ofBulgaria, Italy, Rumania, and Hungary, with the request not to permit even individual Jewish emigration and to allow the transfer of Jews to Poland where, he claimed they would be “under active supervision.” The trials of Eichmann’s henchmen, including Dieter Wislicency who was executed in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, confirmed that this was not an isolated act by the Mufti. 10
Invoking the personal support of such prominent Nazis as Himmler and Eichmann, the mufti’s relentless hectoring of German, Romanian, and Hungarian government officials caused the cancellation of an estimated 480,000 exit visas which had been granted to Jews (80,000 fromRumania, and 400,000 from Hungary). As a result, these hapless individuals were deported to Polish concentration camps. A United Nations Assembly document presented in 1947 which contained the mufti’s June 28, 1943, letter to the Hungarian foreign minister requesting the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Poland, includes this stark, telling annotation: “As a Sequel to This Request 400,000 Jews Were Subsequently Killed.” 11Moreover, in the mufti’s memoirs (Memoirs of the Grand Mufti, edited by Abd al-Karim al-Umar, Damascus, 1999), he describes what Himmler revealed to him during the summer of 1943 regarding the genocide of the Jews. Following pro forma tirades on “Jewish war guilt,” Himmler told the mufti that “up to now we have liquidated [abadna] around three million of them.”12
According to historian Howard M. Sachar, meetings the mufti held with Hitler in 1941 and 1942 led to an understanding whereby Hitler’s forces would invade Palestine with the goal being “not the occupation of the Arab lands, but solely the destruction of Palestin(ian) Jewry.”13And in April 2006, the director of the Nazi research center in Ludwigsburg, Klaus-Michael Mallman, and Berlin historian Martin Cueppers, revealed that a murderous Einsatzgruppe Egypt, connected to Rommel’s Africa Korps, was stationed in Athens awaiting British expulsion from the Levant, prior to beginning their planned slaughter of the roughly five hundred thousand Jews in Palestine. This plan was only aborted after Rommel’s defeat by Montgomery at El Alamein, Egypt, in October/November 1942. 14