Appointed Mufti of Jerusalem by the British High Commissioner in May 1921, Hajj Amin el-Husseini was the founder of the Palestinian Arab movement. He relied upon virulent anti-Jewish incitement to garner popular support. Throughout his public career, the Mufti used traditional Koranic anti-Jewish motifs to arouse the Arab street. For example, during the incitement which led to the 1929 Arab revolt in Palestine, he called for combating and slaughtering “the Jews”, not merely Zionists. In fact, most of the Jewish victims of the 1929 Arab revolt were Jews from the centuries old dhimmi communities (e.g., in Hebron), as opposed to recent settlers identified with the Zionist movement.
With the ascent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the Mufti and his coterie intensified their anti-Semitic activities to secure support from Hitler’s Germany, Bosnian Muslims, and the overall Arab Muslim world, for a jihad to annihilate the Jews of Palestine. Following his expulsion from Palestine by the British, the Mufti organized a brutal anti-Jewish pogrom in Baghdad (1941), concurrent with his failed effort to install a pro-Nazi Iraqi government.
Escaping to Europe after this unsuccessful coup attempt, the Mufti spent the remainder of World War II in Germany and Italy. From this sanctuary, he provided active support for the Germans by recruiting Bosnian Muslims, in addition to Muslim minorities from the Caucasus, for dedicated Nazi SS units. The Mufti’s objectives for these recruits, and Muslims in general, were made explicit during his multiple wartime radio broadcasts from Berlin, heard throughout the Arab world: an international campaign of genocide against the Jews.
For example, during his March 1, 1944 broadcast he stated: “Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion.” Hajj Amin made an especially important contribution to the German war effort in Yugoslovia where the Bosnian Muslim SS units he recruited (in particular the Handzar Division) brutally suppressed local Nazi resistance movements. The Mufti’s pamphlet entitled, “Islam and the Jews”, was published by the Nazis in Croatian and German for distribution during the war to these Bosnian Muslim SS units. This hateful propaganda served to incite the slaughter of Jews, and (Serb) Christians as well.
Indeed, the Bosnian Muslim Handzar SS Division was responsible for the destruction of whole Bosnian Jewish and Serbian communities, including the massacre of Jews and Serbs, and the deportation of survivors to Auschwitz for extermination. However, these heinous crimes, for which the Mufti bears direct responsibility, had only a limited impact on the overall destruction of European Jewry when compared with his nefarious wartime campaign to prevent Jewish emigration from Europe to Palestine. Invoking the personal support of such prominent Nazis as Himmler and Eichmann, the Mufti’s relentless hectoring of German, Rumanian, and Hungarian government officials caused the cancellation of an estimated 480,000 exit visas which had been granted to Jews (80,000 from Rumania, and 400,000 from Hungary). As a result, these hapless individuals were deported to Polish concentration camps.
A United Nations Assembly document presented in 1947 which contained the Mufti’s June 28, 1943 letter to the Hungarian Foreign Minister requesting the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Poland, includes this stark, telling annotation: “As a Sequel to This Request 400,000 Jews Were Subsequently Killed”.
The Mufti escaped to the Middle East after the war to avoid capture and possible prosecution for war crimes. The Mufti was unrelenting in his espousal of a virulent Judeophobic hatred as the focal tenet of his ideology in the aftermath of World War II, and the creation of the State of Israel. The esteemed journalist and writer David Pryce-Jones elucidated the pre-eminent status of anti-Semitism in the Mufti’s bitter legacy: “These, then, were the images and preconceptions to which Hajj Amin could appeal once he became the leading Palestinian power holder.
In memoirs written at the end of his life, when the bankruptcy of these images and preconceptions was starkly visible, he was still speaking of the Jews as ‘..notorious for perfidy and falsification and distortion and cruelty of which the noble Koran provides the strongest testimony against them..’. His hatred for Jews was instinctive, tribal; he wished to cut them down, declaring to their face, ‘..Nothing but the sword will decide the future of this country..’. That this came true amid calamity and ruin was Hajj Amin’s memorial to posterity”.
Pryce-Jones insights underscore the profound impact of the Mufti’s personal convictions and hateful messages on the development of Arab and Palestinian political culture in the latter half of the 20th century, to the present. It is undeniable that the Mufti’s virulent anti-Semitism continues to influence Arab policy toward Israel. Not surprisingly, Yasser Arafat, beginning at the age of 16, worked for the Mufti performing terrorist operations. Arafat still considers the Mufti his primary spiritual and political mentor.
This profile was adapted from the article “Arab Muslim Anti-Semitism,” written by Andrew G. Bostom and published by FrontPageMagazine.com on November 25, 2002.