In an address to the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided it might be a good idea to partially absolve Hitler of responsibility for the systematic genocide of six million Jews. In doing so, Netanyahu parroted an idea that has since been widely rejected by the vast majority of historians.
Netanyahu posited that the Nazi fuehrer did not initially intend to annihilate the Jews, but rather sought to expel them from Europe. According to the prime minister’s version of the events, Hitler changed his mind after meeting with Husseini — who was grand mufti of Jerusalem from 1921 to 1948, and president of the Supreme Muslim Council from 1922 to 1937 — in Berlin near the end of 1941.
“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time [of the meeting between the mufti and the Nazi leader]. He wanted to expel the Jews,” Netanyahu said. “And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here [to mandatory Palestine],’” continued the prime minister.
“‘So what should I do with them?’ He [Hitler] asked,” according to Netanyahu. “He [Husseini] said, ‘Burn them.’”
But as leading Israeli historian Tom Segev told the Times, even entertaining the idea that Hitler needed to be guided to the decision to exterminate the Jews is “entirely absurd.” And while “one can surely say that [Husseini] was a war criminal... one cannot say Hitler needed his advice.” Hundreds of thousands of Jews had already been killed before the two had ever met in the first place.
Netanyahu described his alternate history of the Holocaust in an effort to prove that Palestinians have a history of using holy locales in Jerusalem as an excuse to commit violent attacks against Jews. In doing so, and according to opposition leader Isaac Herzog, Netanyahu effectively “[trivialized] the Holocaust” and “[played] into the hands of Holocaust deniers.”
More than that, though, Netanyahu is doing this so that he can take the most tragic event in Jewish history and place blame squarely on the shoulders of the Palestinians. That takes an awful lot of hate.