Netanyahu’s Comments Spark Uproar: Thoughts from our Foreign Correspondent
Israel | 30 Oct 2015
Last week, during the World Zionist Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked public uproar with his comments regarding Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini’s role in the Holocaust. In attacking Mufti’s involvement, Netanyahu insinuated the role of Palestine itself. As an Israeli Jew, I find Netanyahu’s blaming Palestinians for the Holocaust to be both unscrupulous as well as offensive.
Husseini was, in fact, both a supporter of the Nazi movement and a friend of Hitler. In 1941, “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews,” claims Netanyahu, but the Mufti convinced Hitler to take greater measures. “If you expel [the Jews], they’ll all come here [to Palestine],” said Husseini. “So what should I do with them?” Hitler asked. “Burn them,” the Mufti replied. Netanyahu’s use of this dialogue implicates Husseini is the murderer of six million Jews. However, this label is inaccurate.
Netanyahu’s remarks were met with an immediate, widespread backlash in Israel. Many critics, for example, were quick to point out Netanyahu’s political motive of rooting the Palestinian national movement in anti-Semitism—an entirely propagandistic and utterly false conception. Leading scholar Saul Friedlander stated in an interview with Vice News that “I spent my life studying these things, [and] I don’t believe the prime minister’s disgusting statement deserves a serious answer… it simply shows who he is: somebody ready to falsify our most tragic history, for political propaganda purposes.”
I feel that Israelis use the Holocaust for the wrong reasons, as was the case with Netanyahu. Victimhood is imposed on many Israelis at a young age and becomes a subconscious part of life. This could entail equating the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani to Hitler, or contemptuously referring to a harsh-grading teacher or an angry boss as a Nazi. While we must never forget the Holocaust, I believe that it is both disrespectful as well as degrading to use such a tragedy as a means of political maneuvering.
Ori Machlis, foreign correspondent