• Germany Won’t Let Netanyahu Blame Others For The Holocaust

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent the German government and historians around the world into a tizzy Tuesday night by claiming that the idea for exterminating Europe’s Jews was given to Hitler by an Islamic cleric.

    “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews,” Netanyahu said at a meeting of the World Zionist Congress. “And Haj 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.’”

    Haj Amin al-Husseini was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the Muslim cleric in charge of overseeing the city’s holy places such as the Dome of the Rock. Al-Husseini was a severe anti-Semite and supporter of Hitler, but that doesn’t mean he gave Hitler the idea for the Holocaust. There is no direct evidence the conversation Netanyahu quoted in his speech ever took place.

    Germany’s response has been straightforward: Nope, we wanted all Jews dead without any outside nudging.

    “All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust,” said German government spokesman Steffen Seibert on behalf of Chancellor Angela Merkel. “We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own.”

    Experts on World War 2 and the Holocaust, both inside and outside Israel, have also been highly critical of Netanyahu’s claim, saying it didn’t align with current knowledge of the period.

    “Hitler did not need Husseini to convince him,” said Prof. Meir Litvak of Tel Aviv University. “Hitler spoke of the destruction of the Jews in his famous speech in 1939, in which he prophesied that if war will break out and the Jews started it, the result will be the destruction of the Jewish race.” Even Netanyahu’s own defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, has denounced Netanyahu’s remarks, saying that Hitler clearly initiated the Holocaust and al-Husseini just came along for the ride.

    Bibi’s political enemies, meanwhile, say he is essentially placing blame for the Holocaust on Palestinians and provoking them by attacking al-Husseini, who is revered by many Muslims. Even an umbrella organization for Israeli Holocaust survivors got in the attacks.

    “Netanyahu hurts the feelings of the survivors who experienced first hands Hitler’s edicts, humiliation and torture. He hurts them by minimizing the role of that vile man and incites by diverting hatred toward the Arab public in Israel and its leaders, by implying that they always wanted to exterminate the Jewish people, and do to this day,” the group said.

    So far, though, Netanyahu isn’t backing down, instead simply clarifying that he had no intention of absolving Hitler for his role in initiating the Holocaust.

    “It is … absurd to ignore the role played by the Mufti, Haj Amin al -Husseini, a war criminal, for encouraging and urging Hitler, [Joachim von] Ribbentropp, [Heinrich] Himmler and others, to exterminate European Jewry,” Netanyahu said Wednesday. “There is much evidence about this, including the testimony of [Adolf] Eichmann’s deputy at the Nuremberg trials, not now, but after World War II.”

    Ironically, Netanyahu is the son of a historian.

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