In his Nov. 1 article, “The Danger of Netanyahu’s Holocaust Fabrications,” Robert Azzi attacks me for my article “Palestinians, Arabs, and the Holocaust,” published earlier this year in the Jewish Political Studies Review, a peer-reviewed, academic journal. Mr. Azzi engages in a good deal of name-calling, yet he fails to address the main elements of my argument.
In my article, I present evidence that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the most important Palestinian leader of the 1920s through the 1940s, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, was an enthusiastic supporter of Adolf Hitler. Azzi himself admits that Husseini was “a vicious anti-Semite.” But Husseini was also the most popular and powerful political leader among Palestinian Arabs for decades. He represented the mainstream of Palestinian Arab politics in the 1930s and 1940s. What must we conclude about the majority of Palestinian Arabs, when we learn that they enthusiastically supported a “vicious anti-Semite” as their leader?
The Palestinians who supported Husseini were surely aware of his “vicious anti-Semitism,” since Husseini regularly broadcast his Jew-hatred to all and sundry. For instance, in 1937 he issued a “Proclamation to the Islamic World” in which he said that “since the earliest days of their history, the Jews have been an oppressed people, and there must be good reason for that. As far back as the Egyptian Pharaohs, energetic oppressive measures had to be taken against the Jews, because they were exploiting the Egyptian people.” The Jews, Husseini wrote, “have been the bitterest enemies of Islam and continue to try to destroy it.” The Arabs understood perfectly well why the Germans had to take defensive measures against the Jews and drive them off “like mangy dogs.”
On Nov. 28, 1941, Husseini met in Berlin with Adolf Hitler, who assured him that once the Nazi armies had defeated the Soviets, they would wheel south into the Mideast and “Germany’s objective would then be solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power [i.e. in Egypt and Palestine].” Having received this explicit commitment from Hitler to commit genocide against the Jews in Palestine and beyond, Husseini then proceeded to spend the next three and a half years collaborating with Hitler in every way he could.
His most important collaboration consisted in producing a huge volume of pro-Nazi propaganda, which was broadcast in Arabic across the Mideast and North Africa by radio and leaflet. This propaganda included explicit incitement of ethnic cleansing and genocide: “Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion.” If Nazi forces had conquered the Mideast, Husseini and his many supporters would certainly have collaborated in the murder of the Jews there.
The Mufti’s incitement of genocide during World War Two did not diminish his popularity among Arabs and Palestinians. Upon returning to the Mideast in 1946, he was hailed by the masses as a hero and he became once again the most popular Palestinian Arab political leader. The Arab League elevated him once again to the chairmanship of the Arab Higher Committee, representing all the Palestinian Arabs.
Throughout his life, Husseini was a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and a friend of its founder Hasan al-Banna. In fact, al-Banna appointed Husseini head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine after World War Two, knowing full well that Husseini had incited genocide against the Jews. In 1947, Husseini said that “as soon as the British Forces were withdrawn [from Palestine], the Arabs should with one accord fall upon the Jews and destroy them.” The Brotherhood sent forces into Palestine in 1948 to help do just this.
Today, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch operates under the name “Hamas.” The ideology and rhetoric of Hamas are strikingly similar to both Hitler’s and Husseini’s. Like Hitler, the Hamas Covenant accuses the Jews of organizing a global conspiracy to take over the world and spread moral corruption everywhere. Just as Hitler accused the Jews of aiming to destroy the German people, so the Hamas Covenant accuses the Jews of aiming to “annihilate Islam.” The Hamas Covenant, like Hitler, identifies the spurious Protocols of the Elders of Zion as the blueprint for the Jewish plan for conquering the world and destroying non-Jews.
Historians rightly describe the Protocols as a “warrant for genocide.” It is thus no surprise to find repeated incitement of genocide on the Hamas TV station, Al-Aqsa TV. Here is just one example from the dozens I could give: On July 25, 2014, Al Aqsa TV aired a mosque sermon from the Gaza Strip, in which the preacher said: “Our doctrine in fighting you (the Jews) is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive, because you are alien usurpers of the land and eternal mercenaries. … Wherever the Jews lived, they spread corruption.” Hitler and Husseini thus live on in the preachers of Hamas.
Nonetheless, Hamas won the last Palestinian elections, and opinion polls from 2014 and 2015 show that Hamas has a realistic chance of winning Palestinian elections today. As in Germany in 1933, genocidal hatred, openly expressed, is no impediment to popularity and electoral success in Palestinian society today.
Finally, there is the article by Michael Sells that Mr. Azzi so breathlessly discusses, as if it refuted my main argument. In fact, it does nothing of the sort. Professor Sells’ article is relevant to at most a 560-word section of my 15,000-word article. I could delete that section entirely and my main argument would remain unscathed. That argument is that a striking ideological affinity links the world-views of Hitler, Husseini, and Hamas; that these world-views have genocidal implications vis-à-vis the Jews; and that this affinity is what motivated Husseini to support Hitler so enthusiastically. Mr. Azzi simply ignores the massive amount of evidence I present to prove this thesis.