Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday clarified a statement he made a day earlier about the Holocaust following a backlash from politicians and historians who accused him of absolving Hitler of the extermination of the Jews during World War II.
Netanyahu in a speech Tuesday tried to make the point that Palestinian incitement that has been fueling violence against Israelis in recent weeks is similar to incitement by the grand mufti of Jerusalem during the 1920s and later during World War II.
The Israeli prime minister asserted that deadly attacks on the Jewish community in the holy land during the 1920s “were instigated by a call of the mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who was later sought for war crimes in the Nuremberg trials because he had a central role in fomenting the 'final solution.'”
“He 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 asked. He said, ‘Burn them,’" Netanyahu said Tuesday.
As he headed for a prescheduled visit to Germany Wednesday, Netanyahu emphasized that, contrary to the interpretation of his earlier remarks, he agreed Hitler was responsible for killing 6 million Jews, but he added that it’s “absurd” to ignore Husseini’s role in encouraging the Nazi leader to adopt the “final solution.”
“There is abundant proof of this,” Netanyahu said and pointed to testimony by Adolf Eichmann's deputy, Dieter Wisliceny, at the Nuremberg trials following World War II.
Netanyahu also posted an excerpt on Facebook of Wisliceny’s testimony in which he described the importance of the mufti’s role in the Holocaust, including proposing the systematic extermination of the Jews of Europe and acting as a “partner” and “adviser” to key Nazi figures Eichmann and Heinrich Himmler in crafting the plan.
“My aim was not to absolve Hitler from the responsibility he bears, but to show that the father of the Palestinian nation at the time, without a state and before the 'occupation,' without the territories and with the settlements, even then aspired with systemic incitement for the destruction of the Jews,” Netanyahu said Wednesday, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“And the incitement that began with him, incitement to kill Jews, continues,” Netanyahu said. “Not in the same way, but in a different way, and that is the root of the problem. In order to stop the murder, you have to stop the incitement. It is important not to ignore the historical truths, not then, and not today.”
In the entry on Husseini on the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s website, the museum notes the Muslim leader’s collaboration with the Nazis and Italy during World War II, calling him a “wartime propagandist for Nazi Germany."