The Holocaust Historiography Project

The Mufti and the Holocaust

Among the many tart insights in Robert Novick’s Holocaust in American Life (reviewed in JHR 20, no. 1 [January-February, 2001]) is his brief consideration of the part that Haj Amin al Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem, has played in Zionist and Holocaust propaganda. As Novick notes, Husseini, the leading Palestinian nationalist leader from the 1920s through the 1940s, plays a “starring role” in the four-volume Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (edited under the auspices of Yad Vashem by Yisrael Gutman):

The article on the Mufti is more than twice as long as the articles on Goebbels and Göring, longer than the articles on Himmler and Heydrich combined, longer than the article on Eichmann — of all the biographical articles, it is exceeded in length, but only slightly, by the entry on Hitler.

There is much more to Zionist distortions of the mufti’s wartime role than its vast overemphasis in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. In fact, accusations that the mufti (the title given a judge of Islamic law) was not only privy to, but deeply involved in the alleged genocide of the Jews have been a staple of Zionist propaganda since 1945.

To be sure, Husseini was no friend of Israel. Of a prominent Palestinian family, the young ex-Ottoman officer was appointed mufti of Jerusalem, at British behest, early in their mandate over Palestine. Any hopes that Husseini would prove a colonial tool were dashed when he led the resistance to Britain’s pro-Jewish policies, culminating in the Arab revolt of 1936-1939. After he fled Palestine, the onset of war and his role in an unsuccessful rising against the British in Iraq drove Husseini to Axis Europe in 1941.

There, according to objective historians, the mufti helped the Germans with propaganda and recruiting among his fellow Muslims, steadfastly opposing any German actions that would facilitate Jewish emigration to Palestine (which National Socialist policy had earlier supported).

Those verifiable grievances have never been enough for Zionist publicists, however. The earliest accusations seem to stem from the circle of Rudolf Kastner, whose Zionist “rescue” operation dickered with Adolf Eichmann for Jewish emigration in return for trucks and other supplies in Budapest in 1944. Shortly after the war Kastner submitted an affidavit to British authorities in which he claimed that Eichmann’s subordinate Dieter Wisliceny had told Kastner he was convinced that the mufti had “played a central role in the decision to exterminate the Jews.” Rather than indict Husseini at Nuremberg, the British dismissed this and other charges as Zionist propaganda. (Philip Mattar, The Mufti of Jerusalem [NY: Columbia University Press, 1988], pp. 105-107)

In another early postwar smear effort, Simon Wiesenthal, in his 1947 Grand Mufti — Grossagent der Achse (Grand Mufti — Axis Agent Extraordinary), related that Husseini had visited Auschwitz and Majdanek, paying close attention in both camps to the efficiency of the crematoria, and praising personnel particularly conscientious at their grisly work. (Joseph Schechtman, The Mufti and the Führer [NY: Thomas Yoseloff, 1965], p. 160)

Shortly after Israeli agents kidnapped Adolf Eichmann and spirited him to his show trial in Israel, the once prominent journalist Quentin Reynolds was hired by the Israelis to do a hatchet job on Eichmann. Based on material supplied by the Zionists, Reynolds’s Minister of Death claimed that the mufti had been a close confidante of Eichmann, and had displayed an avid interest in the extermination machinery. Reynolds quoted the mufti as telling friends “the Palestine problem will not be solved in a diplomatic conference but by other means — simple and radical like the gas chambers,” and reported that “[h]is green turban was seen many times in Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Majdanek.” Yet the author offered no sources for any of these claims, which were published by Harold Guinzburg’s respected Viking Press in 1960.

Following the deaths of Kastner (in 1957) and Eichmann (in 1961), the need to displace the charge of collaboration from Zionists to Palestinians grew less urgent, and Zionist writers retreated from the more brazen charges to innuendo. Thus Joseph Schechtman’s 1965 Mufti and the Führer: “It is hardly accidental that the beginning of the systematic physical destruction of European Jewry by Hitler’s Third Reich roughly coincided with the Mufti’s arrival in the Axis camp,” and Zvi Elpeleg: “It is impossible to estimate the extent of the consequences of Haj Amin’s efforts to prevent the exit of the Jews from countries under Nazi occupation, nor the number of those whose rescue was foiled and who consequently perished in the Holocaust.” (The Grand Mufti, London: Frank Cass, 1993, p. 72)

While the more scrupulous Zionist writers have fallen back on weasel words, and the mufti goes unmentioned in such orthodox versions of the Holocaust as Hilberg’s and Reitlinger's, the diabolization of the Palestinian freedon fighter by the Holocaust lobby continues. The website of the tax-supported Simon Wiesenthal Center's, carrying on its namesake’s libels, profiles the mufti as follows: “He supported the Nazis, and especially their program for the mass murder of the Jews. He visited numerous death camps[,] encouraged Hitler do [sic] the extend the 'Final Solution' to the Jews of North Africa and Palestine.” (at http://motlc.wiesenthal org/pages/t031/t03148.html) Any search of the Internet will reveal many similar accusations.

As Palestinians and other Arabs discover the revisionist challenge to orthodoxy on the alleged Jewish Holocaust, they are taxed by Zionists with wielding “denial” as a weapon against Israel. Yet long before most Palestinians had ever heard of the Holocaust, they were being smeared for complicity in it, thanks to lies about one of their greatest leaders, Haj Amin al Husseini, mufti of Jerusalem.

Bibliographic information
Author: Theodore J. O’Keefe
Title: The Mufti and the Holocaust
Source: The Journal for Historical Review
Date: July/August 2001
Issue: Volume 20 number 4
Location: page 11
ISSN: 0195-6752
Attribution: “Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, PO Box 2739, Newport Beach, CA 92659, USA.”
Please send a copy of all reprints to the Editor.