Why Benjamin Netanyahu’s Defense of Hitler Is So Wrong — and Matters So Much

by J.J. Goldberg, Forward, October 22, 2015.
Note from ProMosaik e.V.: After all the discussion about Netanyahu’s ignorant “Shoa revisionism” which shows that lies do not matter if you have to demonize Palestinians we have decided to publish this article by J.J. Goldberg published today on Forward, the newspaper for American Jews. 

Once the laughter and groans have died down, the unorthodox version of
Holocaust history offered by Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem the other
day confronts us with a deeply unsettling question: What to make of the
fact that the Jewish state, of all places, has a Holocaust revisionist
for a prime minister?
Too harsh? Perhaps “Hitler apologist” would go down easier. What’s
the proper term for a politician who stands before an international
audience and declares that “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews,”
but was talked into it by someone he’d just met?

That’s the thesis that Netanyahu laid out in his keynote address to
the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on October 20. According to the
prime minister, the idea of killing the Jews was pitched to the fuhrer
by the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, when the two met
over tea in Berlin on November 28, 1941.

“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time,” the prime
minister said. “He wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini
went to Hitler and said: ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here,’”
meaning Palestine. Netanyahu continued: “’So what should I do with
them?’ he asked. He said, ‘Burn them.’” (You can watch Netanyahu’s
comments here on Ynet, here at Haaretz or here on CNN.)

The remark has prompted an international uproar, with barbs are
flying in every direction. Critics said Netanyahu was “plays into those
who would trivialize or understate Adolf Hitler’s role in orchestrating
the Holocaust,” in the words
of the Anti-Defamation League’s rookie national director Jonathan
Greenblatt. Supporters, like the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s associate
dean Abraham Cooper and in-house historian Harold Brackman, [said] the
prime minister “went too far” in suggesting that Hitler needed
Husseini’s helping thinking up mass murder, but was “right on” in his
larger point, namely that the Holocaust-supporting Husseini had begun
accusing the Jews of threatening the Al Aqsa Mosque way back in the

The implication, apparently, is that the mosque accusation is a
Nazi-style, genocidal delusion. By implication, the Palestinians and
other Muslims who now accuse Israel or Israelis of planning to damage
Muslim religious hegemony on the Temple Mount are merely carrying on the
ravings of the mufti who dreamed up the Holocaust.

Netanyahu tried to [walk back]
his statement the next day, saying that he didn’t mean to absolve
Hitler of responsibility, since he was the one who “made the decision.”
He doubled down on Husseini’s role, though, quoting a German official’s
testimony at the Nuremberg trials to the effect that Husseini had been
involved in the gestation. The German, Adolf Eichmann’s deputy Dieter
Wisliceny, has been quoted as testifying
that the mufti and Eichmann were “best friends” and that the mufti
“constantly incited” Eichmann to “greater extermination measures.” The
Wisliceny testimony has helped inspire the urban legend, which has
circulated for years among right-wing Israelis that Husseini was in fact
one of the architects of the Final Solution.

The legend is so deeply rooted, and the facts so tangled up in myths,
polemics and endless volumes of dry history, that many journalists
reporting Bibi’s latest fuhrer furor have simply concluded, as CNN’s
Greg Botelho reported,
that the facts can’t be nailed down. “There’s no video or audio, not
even a transcript, that can definitively prove Netanyahu’s account of
the conversation between Hitler and Husseini,” Botelho wrote.

But there is record — possibly two, in fact. Hitler’s translator, Paul Otto Schmidt, took notes at the meeting, and they’re readily available. (Find the English translation here or here.) Moreover, the mufti himself kept a diary. The common Internet version of what are purported to be his notes on the meeting (here) tracks closely with Schmidt’s minutes.

they show is that the mufti wanted to express his support for Hitler’s
plan to eliminate the Jews, which Hitler described to him in general
terms. Husseini said “the Arabs” supported Nazi Germany because they
shared the same enemies, namely Great Britain, the Jews and the
communists. Hitler told Husseini that he opposed the British-sponsored
Jewish national home in Palestine. Husseini wanted a public statement
from Hitler endorsing the “elimination” of the Jewish national home.
Hitler turned him down.

Both documents make clear that Hitler was already engaged in his
final solution, and that the mufti was enthusiastic about it. Hitler
wanted it because he believed the Jews were trying to take over the
world through their domination of capitalist Great Britain and communist
Russia. Husseini wanted them out of the Arab world because they were
trying to take over Palestine.

The public record is also clear that Hitler was well embarked on the
road to the final solution by the time of his November 28 meeting with
Husseini. The organized mass killing of Jews by the Nazis began in June
1941, immediately after the German invasion of the Soviet Union. According to
the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Hitler gave broad
instructions to SS chief Heinrich Himmler to “physically eliminate” any
perceived threats on July 17, 1941. On July 31, according to the museum,
Hermann Goering, Hitler’s chief deputy and designated successor,
“authorized SS General Reinhard Heydrich to make preparations for the
implementation of a ‘complete solution of the Jewish question.’”

By the end of November, when Hitler met Husseini for the first and
only time, planning was well underway for the Wansee Conference, where
various government departments were assembled in January 1942 to
coordinate the massive job of exterminating the Jews that Heydrich had
mapped out. Heydrich actually sent out the invitations to the conference on November 29, the day after the mufti met the fuhrer.

Netanyahu’s version of history is so demonstrably and utterly at odds
with the historical record that it’s hard to imagine what could have
driven him to offer it in a heavily watched keynote address to an
international convention. He prides himself on his grasp of history, and
makes frequent use of the Holocaust as an object lesson. Even his
harshest critics will have difficulty absorbing the knowledge that he
can be so ignorant of the basic facts of that history. There’s no lack
of observers who disagree, often sharply, with his policies. But this
goes to his competence.

But there’s another, perhaps larger question raised by Netanyahu’s
speech. It goes to the rapidly escalating level of vitriol that the
prime minister is directing at Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. One of
his clearly implied goals of the Zionist Congress speech was to draw a
straight line between the Final Solution and today’s Palestinian
national movement. Just hours after the speech, during a joint press
conference with United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon, the prime
minister said that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas had “joined” with Hamas and ISIS.

If Netanyahu’s goal is to pave the way to an eventual reconciliation
and coexistence, he’s picked a funny way of doing it. If his goal is, as
he says it is, to discourage slander, demonization and incitement,
practicing those very things is a bad first step.