For years, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has compared the Iranian regime to that of the Nazis. Earlier of this year, on the Israeli Memorial day for Holocaust Survivors, he tweeted the below tweets, in reference to the US negotiations with Iran, concerning its nuclear program:
so too does Iran strive to gain control over the region and then spread further, with the explicit intent of obliterating the Jewish state.— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) April 15, 2015
The same day, Netanyahu stated in a speech at Israeli's Holocaust museum, Yad VaShem, the following: "Democracies cannot turn their eyes away from the dictatorships of the world that seek to spread their influence."; and went on to say, "ahead of World War II, the world attempted to appease the Nazis. They wanted quite at any price, and the terrible price did come."
In that speech, Netanyahu was aiming to undermine US-Iranian progress concerning Iran's nuclear program, which was eventually signed in July, marking a major diplomatic success for Obama; true, even if the Islamic Republic of Iran has threatened to annihilate the Jewish state, Netanyahu's comparing the US to the European powers who appeased Hitler, certainly hit a low.
Well, if you could not get lower, this morning I awoke to the following headline in Haaretz:
What, did I read this correctly? Did Netanyahu actually just say that the Palestinian Mufti Hajj al-Amin Al-Husseini is the one who convinced Hitler to embark on the mass genocide of Jews? Unfortunately, I did; and even worse he said this just 24-hours before an official visit to Berlin. The exact quote, which was said in a speech to the World Zionist Congress, started off by explaining that the Mufti had a central role in fomenting the Final Solution. Then, Netanyahu explained:
"He (the Mufti) flew to Berlin...Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews and Hajj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, 'If you expel them, they'll all come here; so what should I do with them, he (Hitler) asks; he (the Mufti) said Burn them!"
In Israel, and in Europe, Netanyahu's words have been criticized by historians and politicians alike. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel even issued a statement reconfirming Germany's crime against the Jewish people:
"All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust,”…and continues, “this is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten. And I see no reason to change our view of history in any way. We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own."
These words are wrong on so many levels that it is hard to figure out where to start. Historically this is nothing short of a blatant lie, with the mass killing of Jews happening months before their meeting. True, the Palestinian Mufti took refuge in Berlin, supported the Axis powers, and embarked on propaganda campaigns on their behalf. However, he only met with Hitler once, which at the time was reported that "Hitler was sympathetic, but declined to give al-Husayni (Husseini) the public declaration of support that he sought." In short, there is no record of such a conversation even existing!
According to the United States Holocaust Museum, on its webpage about the Mufti, it states, "even after he realized that the Germans would not give him what he sought and intended to use his Muslim recruits without regard to his advice, al-Husayni continued to work with both Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany until 1945." Clearly, from these words, we see that the Mufti was not ever considered a major card for the Nazi regime.
In addition, it needs to be noted that Netanyahu's twisting of the historical narrative are a disgrace to the memory of all the Jews killed in the Holocaust, whether it were those who were killed even before Hitler had met with al-Husseini, or those after; not to mention, it being highly offensive to the families of the victims.
For educators, Netanyahu's statement is no less damning. How are educators suppose to combat conspiracy theories concerning the Holocaust, if the Israeli Prime Minister so nonchalantly manipulates the simplest of narratives for his own political gains? True, politicizing genocide is not new, however, now Netanyahu has offered a prime example of its disgusting nature.
While Netanyahu has since issued a clarification, stating, "I had absolutely no intention of absolving Hitler of his diabolical responsibility for the extermination of Europe's Jews," it is clear that his comments have once again uncovered how far he is willing to go to incite hatred towards Palestinians-so much so that he inadvertently cleared Hitler, while blaming a Palestinian as devising the plan to kill Jews.
Sadly, for the Palestinians who are working towards teaching their society about the Holocaust, their work has become all the harder. Further, for the Palestinians who long gave up on the Prime Minister as simply racist (let us not forget his racist comments directed towards Palestinian citizens of Israel during the last elections), this only reconfirms that it is the Palestinians who do not have a partner for peace.
Perhaps, the only good thing that might come out of this is the massive backlash this has had against Netanyahu. Clearly, most Israelis did not buy this cheap shot of his, and both in Israel and in Europe this will prove to be a major embarrassment.
Perhaps, in place of passing the buck on Palestinians, Netanyahu should leave history behind for now and recognize how his bad policies are continuing to lead Israel on a mode of self-destruct.