Palestinians must recognize their role in the Holocaust: opinion

Most Israelis do not know that November 11 is a very important day in their history. On that date in 1942 at El Alamein in the North African desert, the German blitzkrieg in the Middle East finally came to a halt, with British General Bernard “Monty” Montgomery defeating Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps in an Allied victory that put an end to the existential threat from the advancing Nazis. armies raised to the Jews of Mandatory Palestine.
For Winston Churchill, El Alamein was a turning point. After too many “glorious defeats” in the Dunkirk style, the much-criticized British Army finally won a decisive victory over the Wehrmacht. For the first time since the start of World War II, Churchill ordered church bells to be rung across the UK to celebrate this long-awaited triumph of Allied arms.

If for the British El Alamein was a much-needed victory, for the Jews living under the mandate it was salvation. Had the Axis military advance not stopped in Egypt, Sinai and Mandatory Palestine would have been next, and there is no question what the Nazi occupation would have meant for the half a million Jews living here.

Every year on Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorative ceremonies are held across the country in which Israelis remember the “six million Jews killed in the Holocaust by Nazi Germany and its collaborators.” The last three words of the official liturgy are significant, as the importance of the role played by non-Germans in the Holocaust has been documented by historians who have studied the connection between the levels of collaboration and the scope of the assassination.

In German-occupied territories where the population supported genocide or was indifferent to the fate of their Jewish neighbors, such as occupied Ukraine and the Baltic states, the destruction of Jews was often near total. In contrast, in the occupied territories where the population actively assisted the local Jewish community, the breadth and depth of the destruction tended to be more limited. Denmark and Bulgaria stand out in this category, examples of countries where the efforts of local elites and the general population helped save a substantial part of the Jewish community.

The desert fox, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (center), during Nazi Germany’s campaign in North Africa (credit: GERMAN FEDERAL ARCHIVE / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

If Rommel had been victorious at El Alamein and the Wehrmacht had reached Mandatory Palestine, into what category would the Palestinian Arabs have fallen? Would they have been like the Danes and Bulgarians and acted to save Jews, or more like the Latvians and Ukrainians who, with notable exceptions, collaborated in the genocide?

The available data point in a clear direction. While there would undoubtedly have been Righteous Palestinians among the Nations willing to risk their lives to save the Jews, there is no doubt that by occupying Mandatory Palestine the Germans would have found a collaborationist leadership eager to enlist the local population in the mass slaughter of the Jews. Jews.

At the time, Amin al-Husseini, grand mufti of Jerusalem since 1921, chairman of the Muslim Supreme Council since 1922, and chairman of the Arab Higher Committee since 1936, was the pivotal figure in the Palestinian national movement and his views were not a secret. He was a staunch anti-Semite and an infamous Nazi collaborator.

Following Hitler’s rise to power, Husseini, along with his fellow Palestinian Arab nationalists, carried out a successful campaign to pressure the British to keep the doors of compulsory Palestine nearly closed to European Jews fleeing the Nazis and In doing so, they sealed their fate.

After the outbreak of World War II, Husseini helped orchestrate Rashid Ali’s April 1941 pro-Nazi coup in Iraq and the subsequent Farhud massacre of Jews from Baghdadi. When the British regained the Iraqi capital, Husseini moved to Berlin, where he remained until the German defeat, becoming Hitler’s most outspoken Arab defender, broadcasting Nazi propaganda to the Middle East, and recruiting Bosnian Muslims for the Waffen-SS.

Husseini knew of the “Final Solution” and supported the genocide. From Husseini’s perspective, it was better to murder 1.5 million Jewish children than to have those children migrate to Mandatory Palestine. Following the collapse of Nazi Germany in 1945, Husseini fled Europe to Cairo to escape international prosecution for war crimes.

Symptomatic of the prevailing attitudes in Palestinian politics, and despite Husseini’s much-deserved notoriety, he was elected President of the Palestinian Government in September 1948.

Even the brazen Lebanese anti-Zionist intellectual Gilbert Achcar (author of The Arabs and the Holocaust), who sees political logic in Arab nationalists finding common cause with enemies of the British axis, sees anti-Semitism and Husseini’s enthusiasm for the murders en masse they are totally unforgivable.

Considering HUSSEINI’s shameful war record in the absence of a mandatory German occupation of Palestine, there is no question what it would have included if Hitler’s armies had reached the Holy Land. The Führer would have been willing to exploit Husseini’s Palestinian leadership, sending him to Jerusalem to head a collaborationist administration dedicated to working with the Nazis to “solve the Jewish problem.” Together, they would have been very effective in doing so, with the Palmah’s plans to wage Tito-style guerrilla warfare against the Germans in the Carmel Mountains having only symbolic significance, with no realistic possibility of preventing genocide.

Sadly, today in the Palestinian Authority, Amin al-Husseini remains a respected figure, an honored founding father of the national struggle. Far from critically confronting the evidence of wartime collaboration, the Palestinians choose to pervert history. President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking before the Palestinian National Council in 2018, claimed that the Holocaust was caused by “social behavior, [charging] interests and financial affairs. “Abbas dedicated his 1982 doctoral thesis and a 1984 book to the mendacious proposition that the Zionists were collaborating with the Nazis. (Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended from the British Labor Party in 2016 for regurgitating this argument).

Palestinian historical revisionism also includes the claim that the Palestinians are themselves victims of the Holocaust, claiming that they were forced to pay for the crimes of Europe, losing their homeland so that the West could atone for their sins against the Jews.

In 2019, Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, herself of Palestinian descent, seemed to back up this tortuous argument when she stated that “it was my ancestors, the Palestinians, who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihoods, their human dignity, their existence. . … in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, ”conveniently omitting the behavior of Palestinian leaders during those fateful years.

Germany’s postwar integration into Europe was based on taking full responsibility for its actions in wartime. Across Europe, East and West, nations condemn citizens who collaborated with Nazi anti-Semitic policies. It is time for the Palestinians to do the same.

Perhaps the representatives of the European Union to the Palestinian Authority should encourage them to do so. For without such an unequivocal official repudiation of Amin al-Husseini’s legacy, doubts about the character of the current Palestinian leadership will remain, doubts that affect current Israeli deliberations.

The writer is a former adviser to the Prime Minister and is currently a Senior Visiting Fellow at INSS. Follow him @MarkRegev on Twitter.

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