Netanyahu Defends Holocaust Comments, Cites Nazi Testimony
Before embarking on an official visit to Germany, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday clarified comments he had made during an address to the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem the day before.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu caused a storm when he claimed that the Holocaust was “instigated” by Palestinian Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, who convinced Hitler to “burn” the Jews. The Israeli prime minister said Hitler’s original intention had been to expel them, but changed his mind as a result of al-Husseini’s pressure.
Netanyahu took issue with critics for trying to claim that he was trying to let the Nazis off the hook.
“It is absurd. I had no intention to absolve Hitler of responsibility for his diabolical destruction of European Jewry,” Netanyahu said. “Hitler was responsible for the Final Solution to exterminate six million Jews. He made the decision.”
However, he said, “It is equally absurd to ignore the role played by the Mufti, Haj Amin al -Husseini, a war criminal, for encouraging and urging Hitler, Ribbentrop, Himmler and others, to exterminate European Jewry.”
Netanyahu also defended his remarks by pointing to the Nuremberg trial testimony of Dieter Wisliceny, SS officer Adolf Eichmann’s deputy. Wisliceny had said that the Mufti was “instrumental in the decision to exterminate the Jews of Europe. The importance of his role must not be ignored.”
“The Mufti was one of the instigators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and was a partner and adviser to Eichmann and Hitler for carrying out this plan,” Wisliceny said. “He considered it a suitable solution for the Palestinian question.”
Netanyahu said that though many researchers cite Wisliceny’s testimony in relation to al-Husseini’s role in instigating the Holocaust, he believes there is a clear attempt by certain scholars and others to be “apologists” for the Mufti. He stressed the importance of “recogniz[ing] the historical facts and not ignor[ing] them, not then and not today.”
“Unfortunately, Haj Amin al-Husseini is still a revered figure in Palestinian society,” Netanyahu added, “he appears in textbooks, and it is taught that he is one of the founding fathers of the nation, and this incitement that started then with him — inciting the murder of Jews — continues. Not in the same format, but in a different one, and this is the root of the problem. To stop the murders, it is necessary to stop the incitement.”