Dear Bibi Netanyahu


Here’s what you said, according to the Times of Israel:

During an address Tuesday to delegates at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, 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.

Okay, Bibi. The near the end of 1941, you say. (Actually, the date of the meeting was November 28th, 1941.) Do you have any idea what was going on in Poland, the Baltics, and the Soviet Union at that time? The Einsatzgruppen, the SS death squads, started murdering Jews in western Russia and in the Baltics by the tens of thousands in the late summer of 1941. The Nazis started converting a large manor house and surrounding grounds in Chelmno (a village near Lodz, Poland) in October, 1941 to function as a death facility for Jews. Chelmno started gas van killing operations in early December, 1941, only a week after Netanyahu claims Husseini gave Hitler the idea to exterminate the Jews.

Nobody’s entirely sure when the decision to exterminate the Jews of Europe was taken. Most historians place it sometime in the spring or summer of 1941, largely because Goering’s letter to Reinhard Heydrich, ordering him to devise and coordinate with all relevant Nazi government agencies a final solution to the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe, was dated July, 1941. Records aside from that are thin. Hitler, after the political embarrassment stemming from having his name attached to the order authorizing the T4 euthanasia program, was understandably cautious about putting his name on paper to authorize potentially controversial policies. So whenever the meeting took place, it was probably not in Hitler’s interest to have it minuted or recorded. The best we can do is infer the time frame from the actions of those closely connected with it. Goering’s letter to Heydrich gives us as good a date as any, sometime before July 31st, 1941. Shortly thereafter, SS death squads form in the east and SS personnel start canvassing Polish real estate for favorable killing center sites. That happened, Bibi, at least four months before Hitler met with Husseini.

So no, Bibi, Husseini did not inspire the Holocaust. If you want to claim that he was an antisemite, that’s fair. If you want to criticize him for his desire to ally with Hitler, that’s also fair. If you want to point out that he offered to exterminate Jews in the Middle East, even that’s perfectly fair. But Hitler had no need of Husseini’s inspiration. The Holocaust had already begun.

Now why are you telling this easily debunked story? I don’t care to read your mind, but I’m guessing that you’d like to de-legitimize contemporary Palestinian political movements by linking them to the Nazis, and your version of history, though false, would serve this end nicely. I’m sure you’ll be able to get a fair number of people to believe it, and it will ultimately benefit you politicially. It’s clever, in a way. But to be clever is not to be right, Bibi. In the long term, Jews and Palestinians will need to reconcile. That cause is not served by libel.

Husseini was a dreadful antisemite, and Palestinians will have to deal with that as a painful part of their history. Someday, I predict, Israelis will have to reckon with you, the demagogue who battened on the fear of his own people, as a painful part of theirs.

Hoping You Can Live With That,



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